I’ve returned to Turku for another review of construction progress and meetings with the shipyard. A lot of progress has been made since my last visit, but it all still very much looks like a construction site.
This is one of the frustrations of building ships; there is so much infrastructure and technical backbone to a vessel that it does not feel like the final product until very close to delivery. Even worse, there is scaffolding everywhere which blocks your view of all spaces onboard. The Yard always claims that it needs the scaffolding so its workers can do their work. Sounds good, but I can’t get rid of the feeling that they put the scaffolding up each time before I arrive just to frustrate me.
One of the spaces that is just coming to fruition onboard the ship is our new Diamond Club lounge. I was looking forward to seeing it in place. We have never before devoted so much space or such a prominent location to such a lounge and I was quite excited about it. It is located on deck 6 as a mezzanine overlooking the forward part of the Royal Promenade. The location makes it easy to get to and beautiful to be in. Or at least that is what the drawings showed.
I was anxious to see it for two reasons. Firstly, as noted I was excited about the enhanced positioning of the lounge and wanted to see how the real thing compared to our drawings. But another reason relates to a controversy that arose a week or so ago about some of our existing lounges. The concierge lounges on some of our ships had become so crowded that we could no longer properly handle all the demand. We announced that effective July 1, we would be limiting use of those lounges to suite guests and Diamond+ members.
Many of our Diamond members were upset. They valued the clubs both for the opportunity to mingle with kindred spirits and for the amenities offered in the lounge. We received hundreds of complaints and the internet chat rooms were abuzz with postings.
We learned several important lessons from the brouhaha. Most importantly, we saw how passionate our loyal Crown & Anchor members felt about the company and its product. They cared deeply and they were unhappy at anything we did that they believed undermined our commitment to excellence. I view that as a good thing. Secondly, we realized that we had greatly underestimated the importance they placed on this amenity. They placed a much higher value than we appreciated on a place where they could relax and enjoy themselves in the company of other similarly minded souls. And lastly, we got a real taste of the importance of good, open communications.
In the end, we delayed the change until September 1, announced an interim substitute and vowed to continue to look for better ways to accommodate our Diamond members. I can now attest that OASIS’ Diamond Club is a major step forward. The actual location and space are terrific. And as Adam Goldstein mentioned in his latest communiqué, we have a lot more ways in which we will recognize and thank our most valuable Crown & Anchor members. Adam also mentioned that we were looking for new and better ways to communicate as well. This blog and Adam’s about-to-be-released forum are examples of those efforts.