Can someone please tell me what it is to be butlered on a cruise ship. I will be taking two cruises one in late September and one in late December on NCL. On the first cruise I will be in the Owner's Suite and on the second I will have what they are calling a Courtyard Villa. The first cruise is on the Sun the second on the Jewel. Does anyone know that the butlers for the owner suites (there are two on this ship) is shared? Other then getting you your breakfast in the morning what are some of the other duties he/she can perform. Please let me know.
We had a butler on the last Dawn cruise. She wasn't as good or attentive as the one my sister had in her suite, but it was very nice. He/she will help you to arrange special dinners in your stateroom or on your deck from any of the restaurants. Also, if you want an entree from one restaurant and dessert from another (chocolate fondu from LeBistro) he will make this happen. Also, he/she will serve you each course. Also, my sister requested a BLT delivered to her stateroom each night at midnight and he arranged for this to happen.
My experience was just breakfast set up and served each morning. It really does depend on your butler.
She wasn't able to help us with a medical issue when my husband broke his foot at the beach and the medical team told us they couldn't do anything for us because it didn't happen on the ship.
They will also make sure the conciegre does his job (reservations, VIP tender tickets, VIP disembarkment).
There's nothing like having a butler (if you get Denny)! If you get Lanie - request another one.
If you want to know about NCL butler services, go to the source.
My name is Joshua, and I was the senior butler on NCL's American brand until I left in January.
You will get what you put into your butler experience. Yes, I'm talking about cash. NCL's butlers are stretched too thin to give proper, proactive service to every guest. For instance, the Jewel-class ships, with the Garden Villas, have 54 butler level suites, and perhaps 6 butlers to cover them all.
You can make sure you get extra attention by tipping a hundred or so up front. If you aren't comfortable with that, then tip a little bit each time you make a request or see your butler. Don't say, "Ill take care of you at the end," because that tells your butler that you will stiff them, and they will focus more attention on the gracious passengers.
Look, this isn't charity. Unicef is not in the cruise line industry. Perhaps, someday, they will, but until then...you've gotta make it work.
I stated before the butlers are stretched thin. They are also trained in invisible service, that is, they will enter your room for upkeep and maintenence when you are in port, at dinner, bingo, whatever. If you don't ask for service, you may find you don't see your butler after the first day.
What butlers can do...breakfast, lunch, dinner from any outlet (if you are in an owner's suite), laundry service, quick pressings, mail drop off, running errands on the ship / in port ($$$, this is thier free time), wine service, reservations, replacement keys, shoe shines, packing/unpacking, etc.
What they will not do...Anything illegal and/or immoral, clean-up of sickness, physical security functions, pick-up or delivery of medication.
Behind the scenes, Butlers are working 12 hour days, preparing meals, ordering supplies, keeping pantry areas up to USPH standards, as well as training for emergency duties every week.
Be kind and thankful, or you may find yourself slipping through the cracks.
Very interesting, Joshua. My first and only experience with a butler was last month on the Star in a Garden Villa. We (only 4 of us in the Villa) did not tip up front as I thought it was customary at the end. Other than breakfast each morning in the suite and dinner one night, we were pretty low maintenance. The butler set the tone the first day when he made it clear that he was stretched thin and when asked for a vase to put flowers in, it seemed to be an imposition. Despite that, we tipped generously the last day. Our concierge and cabin steward were VERY attentive without front money. To me, tipping is for services rendered. Front money is bribery to get good service.
I hope you enjoyed your overall experience on the Star. I've had the pleasure of being on that ship as crew as well as pax, and I have very fond memories.
Despite what I said previously, I am suprised your butler was put off by the vase request, which is fairly easy to accommodate.
I wonder when you went on the Star. Last year, about this time, NCL fired every butler on the Star and Dawn for milking the clock, among other infractions. I don't know about the replacements, but I know the terminated butlers were very, very, competent. NCL will take these measures to remind everyone onboard that no one is above the law. (Butlers are very respected and looked up to by the crew) It is possible that proper hiring standards were not followed in an attempt to fill the positions. (remember, no days off between cruises)
I'm sure you've heard the old adage that tips stands for To Insure Proper Service. While this is not exactly true, it does in fact represent reality. Anybody in a service position will react to the guaranteed money. It is easier and less stressful. While I would never slack on a request from any guest, let's think hypothetically.
If I get two simultaneous requests from butler VIPs for the same thing, and one has already tipped a couple hundred, I will expedite thier request before the guest who hasn't tipped anything. In this case, I may ask another butler to fill in, or a competent r/s server.
One problem NCL America has (believe me, there are many) is thier belief that anyone can be a butler. When I left, positions were filled by stateroom stewards and home office employees who gave themselves the position. HR refuses to listen to our suggestions of possible candidates, they say that they will handle the hiring, thank you. NCL does not give it's butlers the resources or attention they need. But alas, I am going off on a tangent.
I hope this helps you understand the decision process that goes through the butler's mind. We want to help everybody, but we really are stretched very thin in NCL's current scheme.