Stateroom steward, cabin attendant, housekeeping staff – no matter what their title, these crew members are some of the hardest workers on the ship. Not only do they perform their regular duties, but they frequently go beyond to ensure their passengers’ needs are not only met, but exceeded. What can you, one of those pampered passengers, do to make your steward’s job just a little easier?
What Stateroom Stewards Really Do
A stateroom steward is much more than just a housekeeper. Yes, they clean cabins – empty trash, exchange towels, make beds, scrub toilets – but they actually do much more. On the first day of the cruise, stewards often offer a cabin orientation by describing how to adjust the air conditioning, where life jackets are located or how to use the in-room safe. If passengers request extra pillows or hangers, fresh ice or little extras to celebrate a special occasion, the stewards attend to those requests as well. They perform the nightly turndown service, make those quirky towel animals, pick up and deliver laundry, provide copies of newsletters and announcements and may attend to other special needs.
Need an emergency wardrobe repair, such as a popped button on a dress shirt or a stubborn wrinkle on a formal gown? Ask the steward for help. Need recommendations for port activities? The steward has been there dozens of times and can suggest unique options.
Stewards do all this and more by working split shifts, with on-call hours each morning and evening as they service cabins. They are the most intimate point-of-contact for most passengers, and are the smiling face of the crew that represents all the best a cruise vacation can be.
Lightening Your Cabin Steward’s Load
Because stewards do so much, anything you do to make their work a tiny bit easier will be appreciated. The easiest way is to be sure you aren’t inadvertently making more work for them to perform basic duties – before you leave your cabin, put away your personal belongings so the cleaning can be done quickly and efficiently. Group used towels together in the bathroom (toss them on the floor so it’s easy to see which towels need changing), and be sure your toiletries are not cluttered in the sink or all over counters that need wiping down.
Next, don’t make unnecessary requests. Do you really use fresh ice twice a day? Don’t ask for it if you won’t be needing it. It’s not necessary to have sheets replaced daily, and if you don’t have excess clothes that absolutely must be hung, don’t ask the steward to track down extra hangers.
One of the best ways to help your steward is to give them adequate time to do their job. Leave your cabin for several hours each day when the stewards are servicing cabins, and you won’t be disappointed by a rush job or missed cleaning. Use door hangers or signs to indicate when you do not want to be disturbed or when your cabin is empty, and let your steward know about your habits – if you are an early riser, for example, they will know to tend your cabin first thing. Also be sure they know your evening dining time and they will coordinate turn down services when you are out of the cabin. Time is especially critical on debarkation day, when every stateroom must be thoroughly cleaned and all bedding must be changed – leave your cabin to wait in common areas or debark the ship as early as possible so your steward has enough time to turn the cabin over for the next passenger.
Communication can go a long way toward helping out your cabin steward. Whenever you see your steward – you’ll likely pass them in the halls several times a day – say hello. Greeting them by name is friendly and respectful, and if you have a moment, ask about their day or engage them in conversation. How long have they been working with the cruise line? How are their families? What do they miss most about home? Those personal touches are incredibly meaningful to crew members who work seven days a week for months at a time and can make a tough work day much easier.
Not all communication with your steward will be spoken, however. If you need to write them a note – asking for an extra blanket after a cold night, for example – be sure your handwriting is clear, and say please and thank you in the note.
Rewarding a steward’s service is a great way to make their work easier and enjoy great service. Depending on their experience, position and cruise line, a stateroom steward typically makes $1,200-2,200 (USD) per month. Gratuities are often pooled and divided among the housekeeping staff, but if your steward did something extraordinary to make your cruise even better, consider increasing their tip or leaving them extra cash on the last night of the cruise. You can also mention them by name in a review or survey about your cruise or send a letter or email to the cruise line to compliment their work. Those personal recognitions can lead to paycheck bonuses, contract renewals and promotions.
Stateroom stewards do so much to make your cruise comfortable, relaxing and amazing – won’t you do a little in return to make their jobs that much easier?