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Cruise ship cabin stewards: who are they and what do they do?


If you are new to cruising, you might be wondering how housekeeping works. Onboard cruise ships, housekeepers are referred to as cabin stewards, and your assigned steward will maintain your "home away from home" throughout the duration of your sailing. 

Like other crew members, they work to make sure that you have a memorable trip! They'll go above and beyond to make sure that all of your requests and concerns regarding your stateroom are promptly addressed. 

Here is everything you need to know about cruise ship cabin stewards. 

What is a cruise ship cabin steward, and what do they do?


A cabin steward, also referred to as a cabin attendant, is responsible for making sure that your cabin is clean and tidy throughout the cruise. While they will not pick up your vanity full of clutter, they will refresh your towels, make your bed, empty the trash, deliver important disembarkation documents, and even leave fun towel animals!

On embarkation day, they will ask if you have any preferences, like in-room bathrobes (depending on your loyalty status/cruise line), fresh ice, wine glasses, additional hangers, or specific bed configurations. Once while onboard Liberty of the Seas, I informed my cabin steward that I had brought a bottle of wine onboard. Each morning, they gave me a new pair of wine glasses to use without ever having to ask again. 

You will not have to be present for them to service your room, as they have their own key for entry. In essence, a stateroom attendant is similar to a housekeeper at a hotel. 


Depending on what cruise line you are sailing with, they will either visit once or twice-per-day.

Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Carnival Cruise Line, for instance, have all cut back to servicing staterooms once-per-day. Premium lines, such as Disney Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, and Holland America Line, are still providing service two times per day, once in the morning and the other in the evening. 

Even though Royal Caribbean recently cut back their standard staterooms to one service per day, their suites will still receive a morning and evening visit by their cabin steward. Those in standard cabins -- like interior, ocean view, and balcony rooms -- may select if they want their stateroom to be attended to in the morning or evening. 

If at any point you do not wish to be disturbed by your steward, cruise ships will either have a magnet, sign, or button that will let them know that you are resting. 

Will I ever meet my cabin attendant?

Cabin Attendant

At the beginning of your cruise, it is customary for your stateroom attendant to introduce themselves to you. This may be done if they see you in passing, or they will take the time and knock on your door. You will also receive a small business-like card with their name and/or picture for you to keep in case you need to contact them. 

Chances are that you will see them in the hallway throughout the cruise. When that occurs, it is considered polite to say hello to them and greet them by their name. They may even ask about your day and what you have planned. It is okay to engage in friendly conversation with them for a moment! 

What are cabin attendants not responsible for?


Cruise ships are essentially "floating cities," which means that there are different crew members assigned to handle different concerns. Your cabin attendant is responsible for the cleanliness of your room.

If you have questions about your onboard account or need to replace your cruise card, you will have to visit Guest Services. Cabin attendants also cannot help you book shore excursions, onboard shows, or dinner reservations. Most of that can be done through the cruise line's app either prior to embarkation or once you get on the ship. 

If you have children, cabin attendants are not responsible for any childcare services. You will have to arrange that through the ship's youth program. Some have late-night babysitting available; however, it is often an extra charge that will be billed to your onboard account. 


Carnival's Night Owls program, for instance, is available for children between the ages of 6 months to 11-years-old each evening from 10:00pm to 1:00am and costs $7.50 per hour, plus an 18% service charge, per child. 

Additionally, while cabin stewards will deliver your luggage to your cabin on embarkation day, they will not help you unpack any of your belongings. Similarly, they will not assist in packing the last night of the cruise. Make sure you allot enough time to get this done, especially if you are planning on leaving your luggage outside of your cabin to be collected once you have disembarked the ship. 

Do you have to tip your cabin attendant?


Tipping on a cruise ship can be confusing for first-time cruisers. The daily gratuity rate is rarely included in the base fare and is something that you can either prepay prior to getting on the ship or have added to your onboard account to be settled at the end of the cruise.

The daily rate varies by cruise line and which category stateroom you are sailing in. If, for instance, your cruise is with Carnival, you will be charged $16 per person, per day for standard cabins and $18 per person, per day for those in suites.

Norwegian Cruise Line's daily rates are some of the most expensive for a mainstream cruise line, as they charge $20 per person, per day for standard staterooms and $25 per person, per day for guests staying in suites or "The Haven," their exclusive ship-within-a-ship retreat. 


The gratuities are divided between the hardworking crew members that work to make your vacation memorable, including your stateroom attendant. That being said, it is not unusual to hear about guests leaving extra cash for their attendant. Some tip throughout the week, while others leave a larger tip on the last night of the cruise. The amount left varies; however, $10-$20 per day seems to be a common answer on cruise forums.

Some guests like to bring a small gift to their cabin attendant in lieu of, or in addition to, a cash tip. Just remember that their living quarters are tight. A box of chocolates or other non-perishable food is best instead of a trinket or other souvenir-like gift.

Read more: 10 do's and don'ts of cruise ship tipping

I booked a suite and was told that one of my benefits is having a butler. What's the difference between a cabin steward and butler?

MSC Yacht Club butler

If you are staying in a suite, you may have an assigned butler in addition to your cabin steward. A cruise ship's butler job is to pamper you, and this begins before you even board! A butler can arrange dining reservations, shore excursions, and ensure that your stateroom is stocked to your liking before you arrive. 

Their primary job is to provide next-level service, so you can expect for them to do, well, just about anything! They will unpack your luggage, wake you up in the morning with fresh coffee delivery, draw a bath for you to relax after a long day ashore, and more.

That being said, butlers are not responsible for the cleanliness of your cabin. Just like every other guest onboard, you will have an assigned cabin attendant. They, too, will introduce themselves just like if you were staying in a standard stateroom. 

Read more: 10 reasons to spend extra for a suite on a cruise

How long is a cabin attendant's contract?


A crew member's contact varies by position. Some may be onboard for nine months, while others can be onboard for only two.

Each crew member lives onboard for the total duration of their contact. And since ships have passengers onboard 7 days per week, it is unlikely that they will receive a full 24 hours off. Cabin stewards have to tidy guests' rooms every day per cruise. 

Plus, they are responsible for cabin turnaround in between sailings! Do not be surprised if you cannot go straight to your stateroom when you board. Typically, they are not available to guests until a few hours before sail away to allow cabin stewards enough time to fully service each room. 


Depending on the crew member's position, they may or may not be able to mingle in guest areas. Some may be able to make reservations for specialty restaurants like passengers, while still paying the required cover charge. Others may be restricted to only dining in the crew mess hall.

Similarly, their exact living arrangements depend on their position. Headlining performers may get their own cabin, while housekeeping crew may be subject to sharing staterooms with other crew members.

After a contract ends, they will have a couple months of vacation that they can spend at home with their loved ones before returning to sea, if they so choose.

Read more: What are the crew areas like on a cruise ship?

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