Royal Caribbean International appears to be testing out a change in housekeeping services aboard Quantum of the Seas. While found on other cruise lines, how will Royal Caribbean cruisers react to what could be seen as drastically reduced service? Why the cruise line is doing this will surprise many guests.
Housekeeping Service Cut in Half
The luxury of being pampered with daily stateroom service is a benefit many travelers enjoy on cruises, from fresh towels and a clean bathroom to vacuumed floors, wiped down counters, or in the evening, turndown service for a relaxing welcome after the night’s festivities.
Guests recently sailing on Quantum of the Seas have noticed a “Housekeeping Services Update” listed in the daily cruise newsletter on embarkation day, however, that dramatically reduces that service. The notice reads:
“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.”
Traditionally, cruise travelers have enjoyed both morning and evening stateroom service to refresh their cabins, a benefit seldom seen in land-based hotels.
Onboard Quantum of the Seas, which features 2,094 staterooms that can welcome as many as 4,180 guests at double occupancy or up to 4,905 guests when fully booked, that service will now largely be just one time per day.
The notice goes on to clarify that Junior Suite staterooms and higher categories will still receive 2 housekeeping services per day. Still, those cabins that will get full twice-daily service make up only a small fraction of all the staterooms onboard. Guests are urged to “work with your housekeeping staff to ensure your individual needs are met.”
What this means is not clearly defined, but likely guests will be able to select whether they prefer morning or evening service, as well as asking their stateroom steward for any special requests, such as extra hangers, different pillows, or a mattress topper for softer sleeping.
There is no indication that this change in housekeeping service will be rolled out to the entire Royal Caribbean fleet, as for now, it is only being reported aboard Quantum of the Seas.
The first-in-class vessel is currently sailing from Brisbane, offering a variety of South Pacific and Australian cruises through mid-April 2023, at which time she will reposition to Seattle to offer 7-night sailings through the Alaska season.
At this time, it is unknown whether or not this change in housekeeping frequency will only apply to Australian cruises, or if the new policy will become permanent no matter where the ship is sailing.
Why Is Service Being Cut?
The notice claims that the reduction in daily housekeeping service is twofold, first to “be more sustainable” and second “to align with global hospitality trends.”
There is no doubt that reducing the frequency of cleaning will help conserve resources and reduce the use of cleaning chemicals, which is indeed more sustainable.
If guests do not have their towels exchanged twice per day, for example, they may be encouraged to reuse a towel or two. If each cabin onboard used just 1 less towel each day, that would mean 14,658 fewer towels to be washed for just a single 7-night cruise.
Read More: How to Help Out Your Stateroom Steward
Also helping sustainability is the fact that fewer chemicals would be needed to clean staterooms if stewards are not wiping down counters, cleaning toilets, or scrubbing showers twice per day. The idea that this reduction in service is “to align with global hospitality trends,” however, is more suspect.
Many current global trends for less service are practices put into place during the height of the pandemic, when it was recommended – even required – to reduce the number of people entering hotel rooms or cruise ship staterooms, which was believed to lower the risk of disease transmission.
Furthermore, staffing shortages as cruising restarted necessitated reduced service in order to keep sailing, as there simply weren’t enough crew members to maintain previous levels of service.
What is worrying now, however, is that these new, lowered “global hospitality trends” have become the norm, and what was once a luxurious part of cruising travel may be forever lost.
The fact that the twice-daily housekeeping service is still being maintained for all suites indicates this is a perk that must now be paid for, enticing guests to pay for a more expensive category stateroom rather than maintaining high levels of service for all guests.
No Reduction in Gratuities
While housekeeping services are being trimmed, it must be noted that the gratuities charged to guests to reward crew members for delivering excellent service are not being reduced accordingly, despite less service now being available.
Royal Caribbean International increased automatic gratuity rates across the fleet in September, with a $1.50 per person, per day increase for all the stateroom categories that will now be receiving less housekeeping service aboard Quantum of the Seas.
Suite staterooms, however, only increased gratuities by $1 per person, per day. Suites do already pay a higher per-diem gratuity rate than other stateroom categories, and enjoy many additional benefits as part of that higher fee.
What do you think of this policy change? Stay tuned to Cruise Hive for further updates if this policy is rolled out to the entire Royal Caribbean fleet.