The relationship between a cruiser and their cabin steward is a special one. For a week or more, this is the person who’s going to pick up your socks from the floor. Cabin stewards are not like anonymous hotel room cleaners; it’s much more personal than that. They will greet you, by name, every day. A lot of cruisers, when the holiday is over, remember the exchanges they enjoyed with the person who cleaned up after them more than with any other crew member.
On their part, cabin stewards depend on you (on most ships) to boost their income with a tip. It’s more than money, though. A smile or a kind word from you can make their day – and secure you better service in the process. Here are our top tips for getting the most out of your steward.
Have you ever peeked into open doors and marvelled at the awful mess people leave? Try to be a bit tidy, at least, so the poor steward doesn’t have to spend half an hour trying to clear the floor before they can hoover.
Don’t create extra work
Cruise ships often have a checklist for cabin cleaning but if there’s anything you don’t want done, for example, your ice bucket filled every morning, say so at the beginning of the cruise and save the steward a bit of time.
Respect the culture
Many cabin stewards are from Asia, from cultures where it’s unthinkable to ignore others, or fail to say hello. A friendly greeting costs nothing! But don’t push it too far; don’t ask them to spill the beans on their working conditions, or to gossip about life below decks or you could get them into trouble. Instead, ask them about their family at home. Encourage your kids to be friendly; a lot of workers on ships have left young families behind and love interacting with passengers’ children. Sometimes this results in extra pillow chocolates, too.
If you write your cabin steward a note, keep it simple and write clearly. Their spoken English may be good but their written command less so. Keep your expectations realistic, too; this is a cabin steward, not a personal butler.
Controversial, but some cruisers like to offer the cabin steward a tip upfront. This is admittedly a more American way of dealing with gratuities and it could carry mixed messages. Either, ‘I am going to be very demanding and I apologise in advance’, or ‘Keep me happy and there’s more of this to come’. It’s a personal choice but you might want to consider if it, say, you’re likely to be very untidy, with small children in your cabin, or you may be thinking of asking for extra services, like hosting a drinks party during your cruise.
Tell the boss
If you’re happy with the service you receive, one of the most valuable ways of saying thank you is to mention your cabin steward (or any other employee) by name on your comment form. Cruise lines really do take notice of this and enough positive remarks can fast track a worker to promotion, or a bonus.