What Does a Cruise Ship Butler Do?

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Considering booking a luxury cruise with one of the world’s ultra-luxury cruise lines, like Regent Seven Sea or Seabourn? Or maybe you’re just planning to book a luxurious suite with one of the more budget-friendly cruise lines out there, like Celebrity Cruises or Norwegian Cruise Line.

Whatever the case, if you’re booking any cruise experience that could be described as “luxury,” it’s likely you’ll enjoy one key and amazing amenity: butler service.

Cruise ship butlers and their services differ from cruise line to cruise line, but their goal is always the same — to ensure you have the most enjoyable experience possible, with everything you could need for a superb sailing.

If you’ve never enjoyed butler service on a ship or at a hotel, though, you might not realize all that a butler can do for you. They’re not just hanging around to take your coat, ferry your luggage and open the door. 

Here’s what all a cruise ship butler can do.

Welcome You to the Ship

One of the first things that your cruise ship butler will likely do is meet you upon check-in and then whisk you away to your suite. Along the way, they’ll point out things of interest, ask you questions about your journey thus far, and more or less make sure your trip starts out on the right foot.

Sometimes, they might greet you with a welcome drink as well, so you can sip away while they ensure your suitcase will make it to the right suite.

Once you arrive at the suite, the butler will show you around and point out special amenities, show you how to work any tech features in the room, etc. 

Unpack Your Bags 

Once at your suite, the butler can unpack your bags for you (if you so wish). They’ll tidily put away your toiletries and hang up your evening wear, ensuring that every piece of clothing is ready when you are.

Packing Less on a Cruise Vacation
Photo By: Melissa Mayntz

Did you notice that, as your butler was unpacking, you left some important accessory, clothing item or cosmetic at home? Tell your butler. They can likely find you a suitable replacement, elsewhere on the ship. 

Specially Outfit Your Suite 

Once you’ve arrived in your suite, if you find it nearly perfect, but only nearly, let your butler know. They can tweak the suite’s furnishings and even décor, to ensure that every element is just to your liking.

Towel Animals in Cruise Ship Cabin
Towel Animals in Cruise Ship Cabin (Photo Credit: EWY Media / Shutterstock)

For example, don’t prefer the pillows on the bed? They’ll get you some new ones, as is the case with Cunard Line, where butlers will allow you to choose your pillows from a nine-option pillow menu. Need to get some work done during your stay? Ask for a desk. 

Arrange Your Reservations  

While, often, the concierge is your go-to professional for securing reservations at this or that restaurant aboard the cruise ship, or for snagging reservations to a show, in some cases, the butler may assist with this as well. They’ll help you get seats at all the specialty restaurants, book your spa treatments and more.

Serve Your Meals

This is not your average room service experience. Suite passengers can simply ask their butler for meals, snacks and drinks, and then your butler will ensure that your food is served as elegantly as if you were dining in the cruise ship’s finest restaurant. Whether it’s setting out breakfast in bed or setting out a late-night snack on the veranda, they have you covered.

Cruise Room Service Breakfast
Photo Credit: CathyRL / Shutterstock

Even better, on many cruise lines, including Azamara Club Cruises and Celebrity Cruises, when you do order a meal to your suite, it likely won’t just come, all at once, on a bunch of cloche-covered trays. Instead, if it’s a multi-course meal, your butler will serve you each course individually, so each course remains hot until you’re ready to enjoy it.

Serve Your Bottle of Wine (and other drinks) 

Don’t struggle with a corkscrew as you attempt to open that bottle of wine you purchased in the duty-free shop. Your butler can help. They’ll not only open, present and pour your wine. They’ll also make recommendations as to what to pair the wine with, or other bottles you might enjoy.

Wine on Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: SeaRick1 / Shutterstock

Read Also: Can I Take a Wine Opener on a Cruise?

Not really a wine drinker? If you’d prefer some other beverage, like a cocktail, your butler can prepare it on the spot. Some cruises even offer in-suite afternoon tea, which your butler can serve, alongside small snacks (as is the case on Celebrity). The point is, if you’re thirsty at all, or peckish for a snack, your butler can likely help. 

Plan a Special Occasion 

If you want to make your cruise a little extra-special, such as by popping the question to your partner or throwing a little impromptu cocktail party in your suite, your butler can help.

Just let them know what exactly you have in mind, and they’ll do their best to accommodate any special requests for any special occasion, from anniversaries to birthdays.

Happy Birthday Cabin Welcome Cake
Happy Birthday Cabin Welcome Cake (Photo Credit: Joni Hanebutt)

As an example, one cruiser on Celebrity said their butler helped set up a sail away party in their cabin, as well as a birthday party. The butler decorated and brought a cake. 

Keep Your Suite Stocked 

There’s nothing more annoying than running out of those much-needed items in your suite, mid-cruise (think your favorite drinks and snacks in the mini bar or, worse yet, toilet paper in the restroom).

Your butler will keep your suite stocked with all the necessary items without you even needing to think about it. It’s just one of the many unspoken, somewhat unseen tasks they complete that make your trip all the more enjoyable.

Royal Family Suite with Balcony
Royal Family Suite with Balcony

In fact, some butlers will even go out of their way to pay attention to the items you use in your suite, and then adjust their offerings accordingly.

For example, one cruiser who recounted their experience with Norwegian’s butlers, on Reddit, said that they only ate red and blue gummy bears out of a bag of gummy bears and, so, moving forward, the butler removed all the other gummy bears, so that they only served the cruiser their favorite red and blue gummies. 

Plan Your Schedule 

From restaurant reservations to special occasions, to on-shore excursions, your butler can help you keep your entire cruise itinerary straight.

From reminding you of your plans for the day as they serve you coffee on your balcony, to contacting the right crew members to make it all happen, they’ll take care of all the planning, so you can focus on having fun.

Do Your Laundry  

Getting ready for dinner and realized that your dress shirt is a bit wrinkly? Spilled a bit of wine on your favorite dress? Call your butler.

Cruise Ship Laundry Room
Cruise Ship Laundry Room

Worth Reading: Cruise Ship Laundry – What You Need to Know

They can whisk your items away for dry-cleaning, pressing and all the rest, so your items look good as new, the next time you’re ready to wear them. They’ll even shine your shoes!

Provide Insider Knowledge of the Ship 

Sometimes, you just want to know if a certain restaurant is really worth the hype, or if a particular shore excursion will be crowded, or maybe the best time to go to the pool. Whatever the case, a butler can answer all of your questions. Consider them your insider expert to all things cruising. No question is too weird.

Regent Seven Seas Explorer
Photo Credit: ShaunWilkinson / Shutterstock

As they get to know your tastes and preferences, they’ll even be able to provide personalized recommendations and tips, elevating your cruising experience further. 

Draw You a Bath 

If you fancy a bubble bath after a long day of off-ship exploring and shore excursions, your butler can draw you one. In some cases, the butler may even be able to fine-tune the bath to your needs, with a bath menu, as is the case on Norwegian, if you have a Haven spa cabin, which comes with a selection of products and drinks on its specialty bath menu.

Handle Dietary Needs 

Do you have allergies or food sensitivities that you take seriously? If so, you’ve probably already attempted to let the cruise line know, ahead of your trip, but tell your butler as well.

They’ll go the extra mile to communicate with the ship’s culinary teams to ensure that not a single potentially irritating or even dangerous food makes its way to your plate or into your suite.

Cruise Ship

One cruiser with a butler on Norwegian says they went so far as to request that their butler not bring any snacks into their room that had even come into contact with any surfaces that had been used to cut or clean raw mushrooms, as they had an allergy.

Even if you don’t have an allergy or similar serious dietary need, if you just have certain preferences (like, say, you hate onions and you never want them to appear in your meals), then your butler may be able to talk to the culinary team and let them know, as is the case on Silversea Cruises.

In some instances, the butler can request the culinary team even prepare you a totally off-menu meal, just because you don’t like what’s being offered on the regular menu. 

Print Your Local Newspaper 

Do you have a strict morning schedule that includes reading your local newspaper? If so, you might want to sail on MSC Cruises, where butlers who serve MSC Yacht Club passengers will happily print out your favorite source of news, so you can enjoy it as you sip on your butler-provided coffee.

Escort You Around the Ship 

If you’re on a rather large ship and aren’t quite sure where you’re going, your butler won’t just tell you how to get there — they’ll actually show you. Ask for them to escort you to an event or a particular restaurant and they’ll get you there on time, with ease.

Find Your Way Around a Cruise Ship
Find Your Way Around a Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: vbertiany / Shutterstock)

Arrange Exclusive Experiences 

A butler can help arrange a ton of exclusive experiences that you wouldn’t be able to arrange on your own. For example, stories from cruisers abound of butlers who’ve been able to bend the rules a bit and get non-suite guests into suite-only restaurants, just because they were the suite guests’ friends, or butlers who’ve arranged for special shore excursions, like exclusive tours and meet-and-greats with famous faces. 

Be Available to You 24/7 

While your butler will perform most of their services from within your suite, that doesn’t mean you have to wait until your butler checks in, in order to ask a question or request a service.

Cruise Ship Butler
Cruise Ship Butler (Photo Credit: alexkich)

On many cruise lines, including Norwegian, butlers carry pagers or phones on them at all times (yes, even at night), so you can always reach out, any time you need even the tiniest thing. 

Be Available to You Whenever, Wherever 

In addition to being available to you 24/7, your butler will also be available to you wherever you might be on the ship. Decide that you really need some sparkling wine as you sit in one of the ship’s hot tubs? Or really need some canapes as you sit on the sun deck? Your butler can help. 

Pack Your Bags 

At the very end of your cruise, your butler will pack up your bags and get you ready to head back to shore. You’ll very likely wish that you could take your cruise ship butler with you, but don’t worry — you can always come back and see them again, during your next luxurious cruise.

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