6 Simple Tips for Keeping Your Cabin Steward Friendly

November 27, 2012 | By | 24 Comments

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 seem recently to have had a breakdown of communication with their cabin steward on Carnival Splendor, whom they describe 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.

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.
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.
Have you had a particularly memorable cabin steward (good or bad)? Let us know.
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    24 Responses to “6 Simple Tips for Keeping Your Cabin Steward Friendly”

    1. Roslyn Pietz
      November 27th, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

      I know it sounds rude. But isn’t their part of the job to clean up the place?

      But then it would also nice to respect and help them time to time.

      “I’m going to be extra demanding” or “There will be bigger rewards at the end for good service,” – I’m gonna do that next time though.

    2. Scott M
      November 28th, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

      One year we cruised Princess out of LA down to the Mexican Riviera. Our cabin steward was from Puerto Vallarta, and gave us info on all the BEST things to really see and do in Puerto Vallarta. We enjoyed our day there so much that a few months later we went back and spent 5 days in PV. If our steward had not told us about these things, I doubt we would have considered going back. Needless to say, he got a very good tip!

    3. Patricia
      November 28th, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

      On one particularly long trip, our stewards, who were just great, got pretty lonely for their families and phone cards were a luxury for them. So we picked them up phone cards now and again. Each day was very busy for them, so we decided to give them a day off from our cabin chores, of their choice. We settled it with the purser so there would be no problems. We just had our ice delivered. They were very interesting fellows, and we learned to have great respect for them and the way they looked after their families. It was our privilege to leave them a well deserved tip.

    4. James
      November 28th, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

      On our last cruise I noted that while the cabin ice bucket had been filled, it had melted by early evening. The next time I saw our steward I asked him if he could do us a favor and see that the ice bucket was filled in the evening as well as the afternoon, with this request I gave him a $20. tip and need I say that we never went without ice again on that cruise.

    5. Jane Cunningham
      November 28th, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

      I have never had a bad room steward, I always give a tip upfront (with the promise of more if they do a great job) letting them know my preferances, and they never fail to please. I tidy up after myself – they aren’t there to pick up my undies. These people work so hard and it is shocking how rude some people treat them.

    6. Thelma
      November 29th, 2012 @ 10:45 am

      We have always treated our cabin stewards with total respect. They are there to do a job like any of us and have left their families for months at a time. A little common courtesy goes a long way. We always leave our cabin tidy to make their job that little bit less tiresome, and always give them that extra tip as they are usually from poor families, why else would they leave home for so long.

    7. David Tiner
      November 30th, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

      On a 11 day cruise we had a bad neighbor in a handicap room. He was loudly rude to his wife and she in turn took it out on everyone else including the room steward. Poor guy. He would come from that room to ours looking like a whipped puppy. No cause for treating someone like that.

    8. Orleanna1521
      January 29th, 2013 @ 9:38 pm

      We almost always tip our room stewards extra (above the prepaid) at the end as long as they have taken good care of us which they almost always do. I think that going forward give $20 of that planned tip upfront is a good idea.

      We only ever had one steward that disapointed us. It took him a long time to fufill a request such as ice and he even skipped turning the room down one night, not sure why. He was not horrible so we thought maybe he was not feeling good or was having a bad week. We left the pre paids of course because he did do his job but we didnt give him anything extra.

    9. Patti
      June 24th, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

      I’ve only been on one cruise so far but our steward, Angelo, was awesome! We took the time to chat with him the first day and got to know him a little. I told him it was our first cruise and he really did everything to make sure we were comfortable. I did give him part of the tip in the beginning, just explaining to him that I wanted him to have some of the money in advance so he could use it on his day off and that there would be more at the end of the cruise to thank him as well. He was very appreciative! Again, I think he would have been great without the tip at the beginning but he did appreciate it nonetheless!

    10. Donna
      July 13th, 2013 @ 8:53 pm

      We always give at least $20 when we first meet our room Steward. They always take good care of us. We are not demanding and are good about keeping our cabin tidy. I bring thank you cards from home to give out with extra cash on out last night. We have never had a bad Steward. We travel Carnival exclusively. They always treat us right.

    11. Martha Fletcher
      December 26th, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

      We tipped our Room Steward $20.00 in cash just because he was very kind and friendly. We knew he’d get the cruise gratuity but we wanted to show that we appreciated his good service. I’ve worked in service industries and a complement is always worth it.

    12. FireStation46
      April 16th, 2014 @ 6:26 pm

      We tipped our attendants, waiters and such in cash at the end of the cruise. We tipped our bartenders during the cruise. I like the idea of the phone card as a nice gift. Is there a type of card anyone recommends and where do you buy them? Is there a difference between US call card and one they likely need to make international calls? Thanks.

    13. FireStation46
      April 16th, 2014 @ 6:28 pm

      We also pre-pay gratuities in our cruise booking but I am not sure if our attendants or waiters know we did that in addition to the other tips we give.

    14. Yvonne
      October 17th, 2014 @ 3:57 pm

      We always clean up after ourselves. We put a trash can liner in the trash can. The only thing our Steward has to do is make the bed. Yes, we keep it that clean. I know how some people keep their cabins…Yuck. I feel bad for them they deal with so many pigs. He/She still gets a gratuity.

    15. Brandy
      October 27th, 2014 @ 1:31 pm

      I once traveled with an elderly friend who soiled the toilet every single day. I felt so sorry for our steward but he was always so nice, and he kept our room immaculate. My friend made good at the end with a $100.00 tip, though.

    16. Tom Collins
      August 25th, 2015 @ 11:45 pm

      Wehave always tipped our cabin steward extra until our last cruise on Voyager of the Seas.
      The service was so absymal that we did not tip that extra.
      Yet the next cruise a 42 day China Japan Princess cruise the Cabin steward Alston was wonderful

      So I think it depends on the service you receive.

    17. DK Sampson
      September 15th, 2015 @ 4:58 pm

      Near the end of the cruise, we wrote a letter to the hotel manager about how hard our room stewards worked and their exceptional service. We leveled similar praise on our dining stewards. The restaurant manager called to thank us for our letter and the steward told us he was getting extra time off as a result of our praise. The room steward stopped us in the hall to thank us and explain that those comments help him get promotions. We also tipped on top of the compulsory gratuities. I might note a different letter helped get a wine manager fired.

    18. Eddie
      September 15th, 2015 @ 5:30 pm

      Simply put, we always tip on the 1st day and we always try to get to know our steward. It took a few cruises to learn certain things but we are now facebook friends with a small army of ship employees, from stewards to waiters to buffet workers to pizza and burger cooks. And yes, we do keep in contact with most.

    19. Lyn
      September 15th, 2015 @ 5:42 pm

      This coming December will be my 19th cruise. I learned after the first one about tipping the room steward on the first day.
      I’ve done it ever since in addition to the standard cruise tips.
      I’ve started tipping $30-$40 dollars on the first day when they introduce themselves and then leaving $5 plus a note every day thanking them for taking such good care of me. I usually travel as a single so I don’t want them to miss out on having the double tip.
      Leaving that $5 a day gets my room cleaned really fast. Once I went to breakfast and came back and it was already finished.
      i also tip the bartenders $1.00 for each drink. I get great service and great drinks.

    20. Joseph
      September 15th, 2015 @ 8:34 pm


    21. Geoff
      September 15th, 2015 @ 10:30 pm

      There’s a line in the movie ‘Maid in Manhattan”: just because we serve them doesnt make us their servants”. They are people just like us. doing a job just like us. I’ve always been cordial and respectful to our stewards, who do take very good care of us. and we take very good care for them. What urks me is some guy thinkg that cause he paid for his cruise that the service person is some how so far beneath him. Treat everyone with respect and it will come back you 100 fold

    22. Sylvia
      September 17th, 2015 @ 5:30 pm

      Treat others as you would wish to be treated….great ideas for nice conversation, tips as appropriate, reporting good and bad behaviours, and communicating always…has worked well for us on Carnival and Celebrity..give anyoen who messes up a chance for redemption and time to improve and they usually do..:-) Happy Sailing all!

    23. Sylvia
      September 17th, 2015 @ 5:31 pm

      ..sorry should read ..”anyone who messes up…”

    24. Heather
      September 28th, 2015 @ 1:13 am

      We are about to leave on a family 7 day cruise and I have made my kids help me design thank you cards for their kids club attendants and put mini candy bars on them. I am certain everyone will win from the nice gesture. It is fun to give, and get. Human kindness always wins. :)

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