The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2013

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IN THE BIZ Cruise Control SERVICE IS KEY ON A VIKING LUXURY LONGBOAT by Ben Weinberg Ma��tre d���Hotel Iulian Popa and Hotel Manager Gerald Hauswirth aboard the Viking Idun. Austria���s Melk Abbey. A Viking River Cruises Longboat on the Danube. 40 / the tasting panel / march 2013 A s I jetted across the Atlantic Ocean toward my New Year���s cruise down the Danube River, I wondered what it would be like to work in service on a highend riverboat. The chance to hobnob with wealthy travelers from all over the world, to serve top wines and tour exotic locales surely must translate into highly coveted service positions. But how was this segment of the job market different from service on land? ���Unfortunately,��� says Gerald Hauswirth, Hotel Manager for the Viking Idun, the Viking River Cruises Longboat where I lodged, ���food and wine are secondary on a cruise of this nature. Guests are much more involved in exploring new and revisiting favorite places, meeting family members and sightseeing. So we get our diners in and out of the on-board restaurant in an expedited fashion. That doesn���t leave a lot of time to chat, but we���re trained to also be available outside of service hours.��� So maybe it���s not such a great job after all? Hauswirth smiled. ���I didn���t say that. If you love to travel, this is for you.��� The Opportunity Prices for this sort of cruise, including airfare from the U.S., range up to $8,000 per person or more. Our new Longboat contained 95 cabins lodging up to 189 passengers serviced by 54 staff. This works out to one crew member for every three and a half every paying customers���so service is obviously important to Viking River Cruises (VRC). ���We employ a range of functions,��� says Silvia Emmerich, HR Marketing Manager for Viking River Cruises. ���In the hotel we have front ofice, housekeeping, restaurant/bar and galley staff. The tourism department comprises program directors and concierges. All are necessary to make the boat function properly.��� Of the crew on our boat, 15 (the largest cohort) worked in the dining and bar area, with another 11 in the galley. Hauswirth told me that a company such as Viking looks after its crew well, which results in less than a 20 percent turnover rate. ���Your job must be the number one priority. Second is family and third is home.��� Good boat employees should not be shy and must be ready to work extra hours. ���Open-mindedness is also a plus,��� says Hauswirth, ���as are language skills and an ability to apologize nicely. Above all else you must have your own personality.��� Tips are shared equally among the entire crew, a good sign of the company���s overall ethic.

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