When the “cruises to nowhere” started, my family took the opportunity to plan a birthday celebration for me.

It was my third time sailing with Royal Caribbean and it came about a month after the Covid-19 false alarm that saw a cruise turn back to port.

With the enhanced safety protocols and mandatory Covid-19 testing for crew and passengers, checking in on the Quantum of the Seas was a breeze.

And I was looking forward to spending more time with my family and having a good internet detox (because the Singaporean in me did not want to pay for the on-board wifi!)

Genuine smiles behind a mask

View from the stateroom, complete with birthday decorations. Image source: Michelle Tay

Upon entering our stateroom, our group of five (me, my husband, my toddler and his two grandmas) were greeted by our friendly attendant Redi who set up the lovely birthday décor.

“I’m finally on a holiday!” I thought to myself as I switched my mind off work-mode and watched my 3-year-old son jumping around in his new “house”.

Masked, I smiled at Redi and thanked him, and his eyes lit up while half of his face remained covered. I noticed that his nametag had a picture of his face, unmasked of course. Oh, at least now I can imagine how he would look like smiling behind his mask!

During the day, we were blessed with the sunny weather relaxing by the pool, as the children took turns to enjoy the ‘wave pool’ according to safe management measures.

The little personal touches

My boy happily tucking into his special fruit salad. Image source: Michelle Tay

Dinners were served at the same table with the same server during each mealtime. This gave a greater familiarity to my toddler since he got a special round table with a comfy sofa seat.

On our first dinner, he was served a fruit salad as an appetizer. Our waiter, You Xiang, noticed that my boy loved watermelon and rockmelon. So the next evening, he arranged for the same fruits to be served, which brought a great big boyish smile (and of course a happy mother relieved at seeing his simple contentment).

You Xiang also made a point to describe the various dishes in the menu, and help tailor it to our needs. Needless to say, my boy thoroughly enjoyed his steamed vegetables (from the kids menu) with garlic prawns (from the adult menu)

You Xiang made the dining experience more special. Image source: Michelle Tay

On the last evening, we decided to dine at the same restaurant since we enjoyed the good food and personalised service. This time, as we approached our usual table, we all started grinning from ear to ear. There wasn’t a need to order the “usual fruit salad”. You Xiang had gone ahead and prepared his special fruit salad, as well as another portion of fresh fruits for all of us!

After the hearty meal, You Xiang spent some time engaging my boy, folding table napkins into animals to his delight while we finished up our desserts. He definitely went the extra mile, considering that he could have been busy serving other tables but chose to spend a couple more minutes with us. Thank you for the lovely entertainment!

My short holiday ended too soon. But the memories and the great service of the cruise crew will stay with me. I think we need to appreciate service staff, especially during these trying times, even more than ever.

Michelle Tay

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Top Image: Michelle Tay