Bob McGownHaving worked for Thomson Holidays and Thomson Cruises, Bob joined Cruise & Maritime Voyages in 2010 as Passenger Services Director on board our ships. After a brief spell in the UK hotel industry, Bob returns to CMV as Head of Customer Services based at our Head Office in Essex.

Here we ask Bob some questions about his new role and on servicing the demands of our customers.

You were previously guest services director on Marco Polo and Ocean Countess – how different is this role?
I look at this role as an extension of the ship. I work very closely with the on-board team to ensure I know how the cruise is going and what is happening. Customer satisfaction is key to the success of our business and we are always looking at ways to develop our product so feedback from customers through our customer questionnairesis paramount.

What are your main responsibilities?
My main responsibility is heading the customer service departments, which include shore-side operations, customer services pre-cruise and customer services post-cruise. It doesn’t sound like a big job, but when you take into account that nearly everything we do involves our customers,we need to make sure we are constantly delivering a high level of service.

Will you be travelling regularly on the ships or are you mainly shore-based?
When necessary, yes, I love travelling on-board our ships. Not only does it help me gain a better insight into what we are delivering,but it’s a great opportunity to meetandchat to our passengers and gain first-hand feedback about our product.

How much difference does it make to your role by having Astor join the fleet?
I think this is an exciting time for Cruise and Maritime Voyages. Adding Astor gives our customers even more choice of destinations, yet she isstill in keeping with our traditional cruise feel.  

Are you planning to introduce any changes?
We already have a strong customer following so unless changes are necessary, the answer is no. With advances in modern technology we want to make things as easy as possible for passengers, but still offer the great service we are famous for.It is more a case of enhancing what we offer rather than changing it.

What will be your main priorities?
Customer satisfaction is the key to our continued success. My main priority is to ensure our customers are happy and want to returnto cruise with us again. We monitor this by thecustomer questionnaireson-board. Looking at it year on year, we are continuing to delight passengers with somenotching upmore than 100 nights a yearwith us!

Which is your favourite ship and why?
I love Marco Polo. She has a great history and a special atmosphere that youjustdon’t get on larger resort-style ships. 

Describe your perfect day onboard – and your favourite port of call.
I love a sea day as it’s a perfect opportunity to unwind and make great use of the on-board facilities. If I had to pick a port, then it would have to be St. Petersburg in Russia, which is amazing. Having been there several times I would recommend this to anyone. There is so much to see and do, particularly the PeterhofPalace, The Hermitage Museum, The Winter Palace and, of course, the Russian ballet.