On the deck with Royal Caribbean’s Sanjay Kumar

So Sanjay, tell us a little about your history and how you came to be hotel director on Navigator of the Seas?

Well, I started as a hotel man in India, working in numerous hotels, including opening a few. Then for a few cruise lines – 7 business units culinary operations. I joined RCCL in 2000 as executive chef for the company.  After 2 years I became food and beverages manager, and I’ve been hotel director for the past 13 years.

Linda Jack with Sanjay Kumar
Linda Jack with Sanjay Kumar

Which ships have you worked on during your career?

Granduer, Enhancement, Serenade, Brilliance, Vision, Freedom,  Liberty and now Navigator of the Seas.

So which is your favourite ship?

They are all unique  although I had a special relationship with Nordic Empress. I like the Radience class as it’s more high end, boutique. But I also like Freedom and Navigator, they are nice, bigger ships. They all have a different feel.

What would you say is the most challenging element of your job?

Every cruise is different, everything changes. It’s fun to adapt to new crew members. What is important is that we have one vision, which is what we will deliver. This voyage, for example, involves beautiful planning. Our crew is the key component, they need to be informed, told, we need flexibility with all we do.

It is important to react quickly. At times things happen, for example, we can’t come to the port in time. Sometimes we have to go to a different port. So we have the responsibility of passing on the message, ensuring we engage our crew members, we leave a lasting impression when this is managed well. I’m always proud to see how well it’s been dealt with. I manage challenges by not seeing road blocks,  I attempt to try my best to make people happy and our crew proud.

Navigator of the Seas in Miami
Navigator of the Seas in Miami

What does your role involve?

I manage, 1121 crew members, but I still have leisure time, time to walk and talk to guests, I offer open access. I also think it is important to be visible in crew areas.

What is your favourite port?

Dubai – it’s an amazing port and a fascinating country, seeing what they have created from the desert, or building houses in the middle of the sea! They have everything there, everything you can imagine, very high in luxury.

Who would be your 3 perfect dinner guests?

A ‘Make a Wish’ child, a guest who has complained  so I can get the joy of getting a good balance of understanding between us; then I’d select a random guest, chosen from one cabin.

Are there particular challenges with a 14 day transatlantic?

Well 70% have already cruised, but especially with a transatlantic the challenge is keeping our guests engaged. We do this in two ways, talking to them and keeping them occupied with activities. That way all 3,300 guest will be happy, the crew will be engaging.The crew love what they  do and do it with passion, they are doing it for me so I need to support them.

Why should anyone choose Royal Caribbean?

Because of our crew, they are passionate and proud, friendly and committed, wherever they work – every singe one is committed, genuinely deliver a memorable experience for our customers.

I’ve spoken to 200 guests this trip, this is the best and most friendly crew we have ever had. I want them to enjoy what they do, they work freely, when its also fun!

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