Tears, Tantrums and Flying Crockery

10 January 2011 By Lucie Ferrer

There are guests that are hard to please at the best of times, but if they’ve arrived with a load of tension and emotional baggage as well as the usual array of Louis Vuitton leather goods, it certainly doesn’t make the crewmembers’ lives any easier.

All couples and families have their squabbles and by the end of a week trapped on a boat together, even the best of friends can start rubbing each other the wrong way. There tends to be a couple of people in a group who won’t necessarily get on as well as the others. (Is it just me or do you notice the one odd person who doesn’t seem to gel with any of the rest and you can never quite work out why they’re along on the trip?)

When guests can’t agree about anything from their itinerary to where and when (never mind the question of what) they’d like to eat, all the chopping and changing can drive crew mad. Having to reset the dinner table in every conceivable location on board and inform the chef of the third menu change of the evening can cause tempers to heat up and fuses to fray between crew as the messenger tears his/her hair out and invariably is shouted at as the bearer of bad news.

It’s impossible to please all the people, all the time, but that’s our unenviable task, so flexibility, thinking on your feet and a Zen attitude are of paramount importance to survive with quarreling guests.

Keeping guests distracted with suggestions of excursions and other activities can be a good way to keep them busy and ease the tension. Offering several different activities can separate the feuding parties, giving them a welcome break from each other and a chance to unwind a little. Suggest sports activities – it’s hard to argue underwater – or an onshore excursion; if they argue ashore it isn’t the crews’ problem and if they actually enjoy a restaurant or attraction that you’ve suggested they might even come back in a better mood. At worst, someone else will have to listen to their bickering for a couple of hours.

It’s the crew’s job to try and make sure everyone is happy. However, think carefully before getting involved. If one of the guests wants to vent, taking sides is a good way to get caught in the crossfire when the fur starts to fly and becoming the go between for two people in the same room is not a position you’d wish to find yourself in. “We’ll eat dinner on the sun deck.” “No, tell HIM that we are eating ashore,” and so on. Argh.

At the end of the day, their arguments are theirs and theirs alone. But just in case, remember the golden mantra: they’ll soon be gone, they’ll soon be gone, they’ll soon be gone….