Have you ever had a falling out with your cabin attendant on a cruise? It's an unusual event, as cabin stewards usually are the smiling, front-line points of contact passengers have with crew. But anybody can have an off day.
From the sounds of the discussion on the Cruise Critic forums, member Cardqb and partner had a breakdown of communication with their cabin steward on Carnival Splendor, whom they described as "horrible." Member Tapi also tells of a tale about a steward so bad, he asked for a different steward, and was subsequently "stalked" by the original one.
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We should stress these are very unusual events, and most people enjoy the banter that develops with their cabin steward (and many of our own members have expressed the view that Cardqb is expecting a butler's level of service from a cabin steward).
It's something that's unique to cruising; you rarely see this rapport with the cleaning staff in a hotel. And yes, you can argue that the cabin stewards are paid to look after you -- so why make an effort to make their lives easier? -- but somehow, most of us believe the relationship is two-way street.
So here are our top tips for getting the best out of your cabin steward:
Seems obvious, but leave the cabin tidy. A quick sideways glance into open doors of other cabins being cleaned (and I'm sure we all peek) can be a real eye-opener when you see the mess. Do you really want some stranger picking up your underwear?
Take time to exchange greetings. Some cabin stewards like a quick hello and a smile, or a chat about their families back home. You can develop a great natural rapport with the cabin stewards just by chatting and being friendly. It can even result in extra chocolates on the pillow.
Address your cabin steward by name. Sounds simple, and it is. It's also common courtesy.
Discuss any special requests you have at the beginning of the cruise. For example, if you don't want your ice bucket filled in the mornings, tell him, and shave a minute or two off his work time.
If you leave a written note, make sure it's clear and legible. English is often the lingua franca onboard, but it might not be the first language of your steward.
Start with a tip. This is a controversial one, but some cruisers set things off on the right foot with a pre-cruise sweetener of $20 or so to their room stewards. Whether this is saying, "I'm going to be extra demanding" or "There will be bigger rewards at the end for good service," you'll probably get the steward's attention.
--By Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic contributor