Royal Caribbean International, one of the world’s largest cruise lines, has recently implemented a new cleaning regime for guests’ cabins. The cruise line has reduced its room cleaning service from twice a day to once a day.
This move is in line with the policies of other major cruise brands, including Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line, and is aimed at reducing costs, being more sustainable, and reducing the workload for the crew.
Royal Caribbean Reduces Cabin Cleaning Service
Royal Caribbean’s decision to reduce its room cleaning service from twice a day to once a day comes after a successful trial onboard the Quantum of the Seas vessel, which started last year.
In December, guests sailing on Quantum of the Seas noticed a “Housekeeping Services Update” listed in the daily cruise newsletter on embarkation day, which announced the change in service. Now, several ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet have made the change, with guests being informed through a notice in the daily Cruise Compass paper which states the following:
“In an effort to be more sustainable and to align with global hospitality trends, we will be adjusting our stateroom services to 1 time per day. Junior suites and above will maintain 2 services per day. Please work with your housekeeping staff to ensure your individual needs are met.”
Despite this change, Royal Caribbean assures its guests that their services will remain high. During the daily cleaning service, guests can still expect a thorough stateroom cleaning, replenishment of towels and amenities, and beds made up in the evening for guests staying in a stateroom with three or more beds.
Guests can also still contact their stateroom attendant directly for any additional requests throughout their cruise. It’s also important to know that guests in suites will still have the twice-a-day service.
Most other cruise lines, such as MSC Cruises, Holland America, Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, and Celebrity Cruises, still offer twice-daily service; and yet, the move from Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Carnival Cruise Line might well set a new standard in the industry.
Cutting Costs or Sustainability?
For Norwegian Cruise Line, the reasoning behind the cutting of housekeeping services is clearly down to cutting costs. On December 29, 2022, Norwegian Cruise Line announced changes to its housekeeping services to prioritize “environmental sustainability and adapt to guests’ evolving preferences.”
Starting in January 2023, the cruise line adjusted its daily stateroom (turn-down) service, providing once-daily service to guests staying in Studio, Inside, Oceanview, Balcony, and Club Balcony Suite categories. The policy is expected to be implemented across the fleet by this March.
The cruise line stated at the time the move aimed to give guests more control over their personal space and to allow them to customize their onboard experience. However, comments from NCLH CEO and President Frank Del Rio made clear the reasoning behind the move was optimizing revenue and minimizing costs.
In a conference call with Wall Street analysts about the 2022 and 4th quarter results, Frank Del Rio, the CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, stated that the company is trying to balance financial pressures with the need to keep passengers happy. However, for him, the bottom line is more important, and it’s the lower category cabins that are most affected.
Frank Del Rio said the following: “We did not cut the turndown service that you mentioned across all brands nor across all cabin categories. It’s only in the lower-cabin categories that equate to a lower per diem. So, look, it’s management’s responsibility to optimize revenue and minimize costs. That’s economics 101, and that’s what we’re doing.”
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Cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Carnival must balance cost savings with a high-quality experience to keep guests returning. Similarly, guests must weigh cost savings against reduced service and decide if cruising is a viable vacation option.
It remains to be seen whether the reduction in onboard services will have a significant impact on the cruise industry, but it certainly raises questions about the future of cruising and the level of service guests can expect.