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What is a cabin steward on a cruise?

15 Dec 2023
Elizabeth Wright

A cabin steward on a cruise is the individual responsible for ensuring that your stateroom is maintained throughout your sailing. 


Often referred to as cabin or stateroom attendants, they'll perform tasks such as making the bed, removing trash and used dishes, cleaning the bathroom and replenishing towels, and leaving cute towel animals. They are also the person responsible for leaving important disembarkation documents. 

You don't have to be present for them to service your stateroom, as they have their own key. In fact, cabin stewards on Royal Caribbean ships will ask if you have a preference between whether your room is cleaned in the morning or afternoon. 

If you're staying in a suite, however, they'll service your room two times per day, rather than just once. 

Loft Suite

Compared to housekeepers at hotels, you can expect your experience with a cabin steward to be far more personalized. When you pass them in the hall, they'll often address you by your first name, and they'll take the time to introduce themselves on the first day of the cruise. 

On embarkation day, you can let them know of any preferences that you may have


Typically, you'll meet your cabin steward on embarkation day, and they will ask whether or not you have any special requests. This could be anything from separating beds to additional hangers, fresh ice, wine glasses, etc.

They'll also give you a business card with their name and extension, so you can call them throughout the cruise if any needs arise. 

When you meet them, they will also ask if you have a preference for when they freshen your stateroom. While they cannot guarantee a specific time (i.e., 10am if you select the morning), you'll be given a time frame.

Luggage lined up in hallway

It is best that you consider how you plan on vacationing. Do you expect to be up early each morning to make the most of your time onboard the ship, or will you be using your PTO to catch up on sleep? 

RelatedSpotted: Royal Caribbean cuts cabin housekeeping from twice to once per day service

Cabin stewards are not responsible for anything except the cleanliness of your stateroom

Towel animal in bed

Throughout the cruise, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to speak to someone about getting a new cruise card, or perhaps you have a question about your onboard account. Those issues can best be handled by Guest Services, rather than your cabin steward. 

Additionally, they cannot help you book shore excursions or dinner reservations. Thankfully, it's easy to do so through the Royal Caribbean app either before embarkation or once you get on the ship. 

If you get a craving for a late-night snack or want breakfast delivered, make sure that you contact room service, rather than your steward. 

For any child-related needs, you'll want to visit Adventure Ocean. Rather than waiting to register your children on the first sea day, you should take advantage of the open house on embarkation day. 

While children won't be able to stay and partake in any complimentary programming quite yet, you'll be able to tour the facilities and get acclimated to the program before sailing away. 

Finally, even though your cabin steward will deliver your luggage outside of your cabin, they won't help you unpack. Similarly, they won't be of any use when you are packing on the last night of the cruise, so you will want to ensure that you allot enough time to get this done. 

Leaving an extra tip isn't required; however, it is a nice gesture 

Oceanview cabin

When you book your cruise, you'll notice that you have an option to pre-pay for your gratuities. If you choose not to, they will automatically be added to your onboard account to be settled at the end of your vacation. 

As of November 2023, the automatic gratuity rate is $18.00 per person, per day for standard cabins (Junior Suites and below) and $20.50 per person, per day for suites.

Gratuities are divided amongst the crew members who work to make your time onboard so memorable, including your cabin steward. However, it's not unusual to hear about passengers leaving an extra tip. 

Counting cash

The amount that guests leave varies. According to Ampurp85 on a Royal Caribbean Blog forum, "...I normally give my room attendant between $35-50 depending on length of cruise. I like to give them $10-15 halfway through and the rest at the end."

"For a typical 7-night, we did an additional $20/p for head waiter, $15/p for asst waiter, $20/p for stateroom attendant, $1/drink for bar staff," wrote KJones. 

What's the difference between a cabin steward and Royal Genie?

While there are technically three different tiers to Royal Caribbean's Royal Suite Class, only those who booked a Star Class suite will have access to a Royal Genie, who is pretty much like a private butler. 

Suites within the Star Class include the Royal Loft Suite, Owner’s Loft Royal Suite, Grand Loft Sky Loft Suite, 2-Bedroom Aqua Theater Suite, and 4-Bedroom Family Suite. 

Having a Royal Genie is all about making your life onboard easier, so you can expect them to assist you with making dining reservations, booking shore excursions, and more. 

Additionally, since their job is to provide next-level service, you can ask for just about anything, whether it's fresh coffee in the morning, arranging in-suite parties, or scoring reservations to a fully booked show. 

That being said, Royal Genies do not take the place of cabin stewards. As such, they aren't responsible for the cleanliness of your stateroom. Just like standard staterooms, you will have a dedicated cabin steward throughout your sailing.

RelatedMy advice for someone using a Royal Genie on a Royal Caribbean cruise

If you don't want your cabin serviced, utilize the "do not disturb" magnet

Stateroom doors are magnetic. In addition to fun decor, they can also serve a functional purpose. If, for instance, you wake up feeling unwell and want to remain in bed, you can place the "do not disturb" magnet outside, which will let your cabin steward know that you're inside. 

Perhaps you told them that you'd prefer your cabin to be cleaned during the afternoon, but you want a nap before dinner. 

Whatever the reason, the magnet will let your steward know that it's okay for them to skip your room. 

Elizabeth graduated from New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute with her M.A. in Journalism in May 2023. Growing up, she had the privilege of traveling frequently with her family and fell in love with cruising after sailing on the Oasis of the Seas her freshman year of high school. She wanted to pursue a career that highlighted her passion for travel and strengths as a writer. 

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