Having done countless cruises and met hundreds of members of staff aboard cruise ships around the world, Cruise Arabia & Africa has learnt that the quickest and cheapest (it doesn’t cost a thing!) way of getting the best treatment on your cruise is by winning over the crew.
The crew are there to serve you, that’s their job, but by ingratiating yourself to them in these 10 ways, you’ll make them want to cut corners to get you the best service.
Want your desert to come before all the other tables? Do you want to make sure the bartender remembers exactly how you like your evening cocktail? Do you want your after dinner coffee to be ready for you within minutes of stepping into the lounge?
Cruise Arabia & Africa will show you how to enhance the human connection.
One – Strike up unique conversation
Cruise ship crew have heard it all before and had the same conversation with passengers more times than they care to count: “Where are you from?” “How long have you been on this ship?” “Do you enjoy it?”
Rather, start with question other passengers might not have thought to ask them, “What do you miss most about home?” “How many hours do you work a day?” “What annoys you most about your work?”
And sympathise with their answers if its appropriate, most cruise ship crew work extremely hard and will like a passenger that shows appreciation.
Two – Try not to complain unnecessarily
Especially about your late luggage! Turnaround day (the day the ship ends one cruise and starts another) is the busiest and most stressful for the crew, they’re welcoming hundreds perhaps even thousands of new cruise passengers and trying to prepare the ship for sailing.
Accept that your luggage likely won’t arrive until late in the evening as stewards needs to carry several hundred pieces of luggage on-board, take a carry on with you for a fresh change of clothes and important items (camera, toiletries, medication etc).
Calling the pursers office incessantly will lead to what the crew call ‘blacklisting’ – word will get round that you’re difficult and everything will take even longer than it should.
Three – Your cabin is smaller than a hotel room
There is no cruise ship in the world that can rival the average hotel room in terms of floor-space, even a hotel room in Paris is larger than the average cruise ship cabin.
Experienced cruisers know this, but if you’re a first time passengers, don’t complain about it, because the crew, from the hotel manager down to the housekeeping staff, will just think you’re ignorant.
Four – Expect imperfection
Nothing in life is perfect and although cruise lines do their best to ensure that every cabin is made to look as though its never been used, mistakes happen.
Your toilet might be blocked, the batteries in the TV remote might have run out. Call and ask for assistance, but do it politely. It is amazing how far a please and a thank you can get one.
Five – Don’t complain about the weather
This is another complain the crew have heard countless times before, except it is even more annoying because it is an element of the cruise experience completely out of their control.
Cruise Arabia & Africa cant count the number of times we’ve had a shore excursion cancelled or a port call delayed or skipped because of the weather. Complaining about the weather will make you seem unreasonable, and the crew will resent it.
Six – Don’t lean over the purser’s desk
There is a series in the United Kingdom called ‘Little Britain’ that gave rise to the phrase “the computer says no”.
It can be extremely frustrating when you ask a request of the purser and he tells you ‘no’ after glancing at his computer, but don’t lean over the look at the screen.
He isn’t lying to you, and you wont understand anything on it anyway. All that will be accomplished is resentment and a disinclination to go the extra mile for you.
Seven – Don’t fraternise with the crew
Crew members are not supposed to initiate or allow intimate relations with passengers, although it’s common knowledge that it happens all the time.
However, if they get caught, they can be fired, so if you fancy a crew member be discreet, and ladies don’t think that overt flirtation will necessarily get you better service.
If you do end up ‘hooking up’ with a crew-member, however, be prepared to sneak around in the early hours.
Cruise Arabia & Africa has it on good authority that the best time to look for romance with a crew member is in the main nightclub on the first formal night.
But, remember the saying about a girl (or boy) in every port…
Eight – Don’t be late
If you have an assigned time for your dinner sitting (the first sitting or early sitting is usually at around 7 and the second or late sitting at 10pm), don’t be late.
A cruise ship’s main dining room isn’t run the same way as a restaurant on land, serving so many people in such a short amount of time takes pin-point precision and planning.
Arriving late will throw your waiter off his schedule, cause him undue stress and ruin the service for other passengers as he will have to neglect other tables waiting in line again for your courses.
This is one of the main ways in which passengers annoy dining staff, it makes you come across as inconsiderate as a result your waiter may not be very considerate toward your group.
Nine – Have empathy
You’ve paid a lot of money to be on the cruise and you expect to get your money’s worth, there’s nothing wrong with that, but try to remember that the ship’s crew work ten to 16-hour days, usually with just a handful of days off in eight months and very few opportunities to leave the ship.
It is an exhausting industry, but one that you can make very rewarding by smiling, showing gratitude and appreciation and by making whoever is serving you feel proud of what they do.
Ten – Avoid blacklisting
If you mistreat your cabin steward, by raising your voice or belittling him in anyway, or if you loose your temper with your waiter, most of the ship’s wait staff will know about it before desert is served.
Word travels fast between decks and you can quickly become everyone’s lowest priority if you’re seen as a problem passenger.
Bonus 11 – Spend (a little) extra cash
If a crew-member shows initiation or helpfulness from the get go, slip them USD $10 or so, and let them know that they’ll get the same at the end of the cruise if such service continues.
You’ll become priority number one for your steward and your waiter, the two most important crew-members for any passenger.
If you do this, remember that many cruise lines have automated tipping structures, which you can opt out of, so that you can instead spend the money tipping those crew members you personally contributed to making your cruise that much better.