Royal Caribbean is just weeks away from letting its Royal Genies out of the bottle. The genies are part of the new Royal Suite Class program the line is rolling out on its Oasis and Ovation class ships – and it will be available on Ovation of the Seas when it sails from Sydney in December.
Royal Suite Class will have three luxurious levels: Star Class, Sky Class and Sea Class. Those who purchase a suite in the Royal Suite Class’ top category, Star Class, will have their own Royal Genie, a personalised butler at the guest’s beck and call 24 hours a day to make restaurant reservations, shine shoes and handcraft cocktails. They can also put together special date nights, organise private shore excursions or arrange a family celebration in the suite. This is the first time Royal Caribbean has offered personalised butlers and they will be certified by the British Butler Institute.
Other Royal Suite Class perks include complimentary high-speed internet, specialty dining, Ultimate Beverage Packages, access to the thermal suite at the spa and inclusive gratuities. Star Class accommodation includes most of the Loft Suites on Anthem of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. Sky Class includes complimentary highspeed-internet and thermal suite access. The Sea Class will have the junior suites. All Royal Suite Class passengers will have the option of dining at the exclusive Coastal Kitchen, reserved for suite class, and guests will also receive designer bath and beauty amenities by Hermes, Ferragamo and L’Occitane.
Royal Caribbean is not the first mainstream line to introduce a little something extra for its premium passengers. They combine the perks of travelling on a large ship (more restaurants, good nightlife, activities, facilities, kids clubs) with the benefits of a smaller luxury ship (personal service, private areas, included extras). And while they do come at cost, it’s generally much lower than a luxury cruise.
Suite Class was introduced across the fleet in 2015 incorporating the top six suite categories. The suites aren’t new, but the range of perks they come with has been improved. Book one of these and you’ll enjoy butler service, priority boarding and the use of a private restaurant, Luminae, near the main dining room. Guests in all except the Sky Suites can also use a private lounge, Michael’s Club, offering complimentary cocktails and canapés in the evenings. But it’s in the top three categories, Reflection Penthouse and Royal suites, where even more perks kick in, from Wi-Fi to all-inclusive drinks and free access to the specialty restaurants.
Probably the most traditional of today’s cruise lines, Cunard has a four-tier system on board. The class of cabin you book determines the restaurant in which you eat. Guests in Britannia cabins have fixed-seating dining in the grand Britannia restaurant, while those in Britannia Club Balcony cabins qualify for open seating in the more intimate Britannia Club. Big spenders opt for Princess Grill, with more spacious cabins, a private lounge and open seating restaurant. The top level, Queens Grill, includes the most spacious cabins or suites and butler service, as well as the lavish Queens Grill restaurant. The Cunard Grills have a reputation for providing some of the finest accommodation and service at sea; it’s not unusual for a royal or a big star to book an entire suite of suites in Queens Grill for themselves and their entourage.
Norwegian Cruise Line
The Haven by Norwegian is a smart hideaway for suite guests available on Norwegian Cruise Line’s newer ships. Suites and “villas” (larger suites sleeping up to six) of varying size are grouped together in an enclave high up on the ship, served by a butler and concierge and sharing a private VIP restaurant, lounge and small pool (complete with pool valet to polish your sunglasses), workout area and Jacuzzi. Haven guests get priority seating at the shows and priority bookings in the ships’ many restaurants. Because Norwegian’s market is young and lively, The Haven is great for families with teenagers, offering the contrast of a quiet retreat for adults and the razzle-dazzle of the rest of the ship for night owls.
If The Haven has the vibe of a cool beach club, the Yacht Club on Italian-owned MSC Cruises’ newest ships is more akin to a boutique hotel, not short on the bling, with acres of Italian marble and a staircase made entirely of Swarovski crystal. Accessed by a private lift, the Yacht Club has suites of varying sizes, including some excellent family accommodation, top-notch butlers, a private lounge, deck area, pool and restaurant. The service starts with a red carpet at check-in and includes extras like priority booking for excursions and spa treatments, as well as drinks in the lounge and restaurant. Like the NCL product, the Yacht Club works well for families or groups who want the bustle of a busy ship at the same time as the five-star lifestyle in a beautiful, tranquil setting.