Clearly, the cruise companies know that good service is key to repeat customers and good word of mouth. They have well defined service standards and train their staff thoroughly. Perhaps more important, they hire people with the right attitude for the job at hand. Waitstaff need to be outgoing, engaging, and energetic. The staff that keep the ship clean don’t have as much interaction with guests so need a different skill set.
I have been in banking for almost 40 years (oh, my) and am more convinced than ever that good service begins with good hiring practices. You still need to train, coach, motivate, mentor, and measure performance but if you don’t hire well you simply won’t get there.