4 Ways to Get Better Service on a Cruise

service crew celebrity cruises glamping dinner
Showing appreciation for crew members goes a long way. - Photo by Celebrity Cruises

Everyone wants great service during their cruise, but sometimes the staff can leave you disappointed in their efforts. Generally speaking, you’ll find more hard-working and friendly staff on a cruise ship than anywhere else in the travel industry, but here are some ways you can ensure even better service onboard.

1. Slip crew members some money.

norwegian cruise haven service crew staff
Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

If you want the very best effort from your cabin steward, your waiters in the dining room, or the bartender at your favorite shipboard bar, one of the easiest ways to get it is by slipping them some cash. Obviously, you’ll want to do this right at the beginning of the cruise so you’ll receive extra attention the entire sailing. If you planned on tipping them above and beyond the automatic gratuity if they do an exceptional job, but feel hesitant about giving it to them before you have a chance to see their quality of service, consider dividing it up. Give them half of what you plan at the beginning and then the other half at the end if you’re happy with their work ethic and demeanor. Also, we probably sound like a broken record about automatic gratuities at this point, but don’t remove them. They’re widely divided out between crew members, including many you will never meet.


2. Have a good attitude.

carnival cruise alchemy bar staff crew bartenders bartender
Photo by Carnival Cruise Line

If you pack a good attitude along with your shoes and shirts, it will go a long way in how you’re treated by staff and crew members. That isn’t to say that there aren’t countless crew members who still treat rude guests wonderfully and with a smile, but they will be genuinely happy to serve a kind person. Plus, we as cruise passengers and as humans in general should treat everyone with respect and kindness, regardless of whether it will benefit us. That old saying “You get more flies with honey, than vinegar?” Same thing here.


3. Give a small gift.

carnival cruise blueiguana tequila bar crew staff
Photo by Carnival Cruise Line

In the same vein as a monetary token, starting off your cruise with a small gift of appreciation for all of the hard work that your servers or cabin steward do could go a long way. A bit of thoughtfulness will not only improve your service quality, it will also boost their overall morale. Ship life is hard and can be taxing, where crew members don’t usually even get full days off during their contract at sea. Trust us, when a passenger shows them appreciation, it brightens their day and they’ll be even happier to make your vacation the best it can possibly be.

Tip: Cruise ship crew members live in very small quarters, and don’t have room to store big, bulky items, so keep your gift small and personal. Maybe a trinket from your hometown, or one of those small inspirational cards you’d find at a greeting card store.


READ MORE: 4 Reasons Tips Should Be Included


4. Sail on a line known for better service.

norwegian cruise district brewhouse bar service crew
Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

This may be the most obvious point, but simply sailing on a cruise line known for exceptional service should — obviously — ensure that you’ll have better service than you may have experienced on other lines. Luxury lines will tend to do better overall in this category, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that they are the only place to get fantastic service — mainstream and premium lines have some gems in the service area too. Luxury lines Windstar and Crystal rank nearly perfect at an average of 4.8/5 stars for service at the time of publishing, but the upper mainstream line Disney also holds a steady 4.8. Luxury lines Regent Seven Seas and Silversea Cruises come in at 4.5/5 for service, but so does Celebrity, a still classy but far more affordable option. It also doesn’t hurt to investigate specific ships you’re interested in to see how reviewers rated service onboard and make your decision from there.


BONUS: Fill out a comment card.

royal caribbean independence fish ships dining crew staff
Photo by Royal Caribbean

Filling out the comment card and mentioning specific crew members might not get you better service on your cruise (since this generally takes place at the end), but positive comments may favorably impact guests on the following voyage. Crew members may or may not receive comment cards directly from guest services, but you can be sure that their supervisors will read them and pass along the glowing reports. If your cruise line offers the opportunity to pick up a comment/thank you card at guest services and award it to a specific crew member, do this for your cabin steward and anyone else who made your vacation special. They’ll be recognized for this, and may even receive a bonus or entry into a drawing to win a prize or cash. These simple steps will boost morale and show the crew member that what they’re doing matters and people notice, which in turn will probably cause them to work even harder during their next shift. If enough cruisers “pay it forward” like this, service will get even better across the entire industry.

Join the discussion

Have you done any of these before? Do you think it made a difference?

1 Comment

Posted by MrJames1955

Yes my wife and I always do this and it do make a difference!!!!

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