ONBOARD THE HARMONY OF THE SEAS — Royal Caribbean
International is a month into its new suite-level offerings, which include the
services of uber-butlers that the line calls “Royal Genies.”
On the Harmony, the program began over the weekend with
the ship’s first revenue cruise, from Southampton, England.
Passengers in the 10 top suites on the Harmony qualify
for Royal Caribbean’s top-level Star class, and it is these passengers who get
the Genie service. The ship’s three Genies, one for approximately three suites,
work alongside two full-time concierges who are dedicated to passengers in the next-level Sky class of service.
Royal Caribbean has been playing up the Genie concept,
and the memorable name and some of the language (a pre-cruise letter to guests
reads, in part, “I promise to be ‘in my lamp’ and at your service every
afternoon”) might prompt passengers and agents to conjure up a Barbara
Eden lookalike in silk robes.
In fact, the Genies on Harmony were very business-casual,
with soft navy jackets in a shawl collar; the women wore light tunics,
ankle-length tan slacks and tan flats.
“How many of you watch ‘Downton Abbey?'” asked
Claudia King-McWilliams, Royal Caribbean’s director of guest services and
housekeeping, during an informational session. “If you took Carson and combined him with Mary Poppins., that’s sort of a Royal Genie. So they Royal Genie is coordinating behind the scenes and making sure the experience is phenomenal, but then they’re looking for every opportunity that they can to have a ‘surprise and delight.'”
Agents who book passengers into the Star suites will
receive a questionnaire about six weeks before the cruise and are asked to go
over it with their clients to help the Genie prepare their Royal experience.
Genies and passengers can communicate before, during and just after the cruise
via a smartphone app.
I took the questionnaire before meeting the Genies on the
Harmony. The form started easily with my name but then progressed quickly to
broader think pieces: “What would constitute a perfect day for you?” “What
are the three things that you and your travel companions have in common?”
“Given the choice of anyone in the world, who would you most like to have
King-McWilliams cautioned that Genies don’t do something
specific with every answer, but they might use the answers as talking points or
as a starting place to a special surprise.
For one guest who was a fan of Winston Churchill, the
Genie placed a set of books about him in the suite. For another, who loved
Freddie Mercury, the Genie obtained a DVD of “Queen: Live
at Wembley ’86” and a bottle of Moet champagne (Mercury’s favorite drink).
Sadly, none of the Genies referenced my completed
questionnaire, which stated I wanted to have dinner with Prince or that a
perfect day includes a deck chair, a good book and a glass of sauvignon blanc.
But I cut the Genies some slack. They would appear to be very busy: Not only
must they service the clients on their current cruise, but they also must
gather information on, communicate with and think of surprises for passengers
on upcoming voyages.
Royal Caribbean’s Suite Class program — Star, Sky and Sea
classes, with varying levels of perks and services — is available on the three
Oasis-class ships and the Anthem of the Seas (it is also on the Australia departures of the Ovation of the Seas).
The Coastal Kitchen restaurant and lounge. Pnly passengers booked into the suites on the ship have access. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin
Besides the service of Royal Genies, Star-class
passengers receive all-day access to the Coastal Kitchen restaurant and lounge
on the suite deck. The room has gorgeous floor-to-ceiling-window views. They
also get the Ultimate beverage package, prepaid gratuities, WiFi, in-room
cocktail service every afternoon and prepaid entry to any of the specialty
Those booked into the loft suites, two-bedroom
AquaTheater suites and the Family Presidential suite qualify for Star-class
Sky-class passengers (in the owners’ and one-bedroom
AquaTheater suites) get some, but not all, of the same perks. Passengers in
junior and named suites are in the Sea class and are able to book dinner at
Royal’s Suite Class is just one of the “ship within
a ship” offerings that cruise lines have rolled out to attract luxury
This report was updated on May 24, 2016.
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