Early in our marriage, there were three of us: husband, wife and our fantasy butler, “James.” When neither spouse wanted to pick up the dry cleaning or wash the dishes, one or the other would suggest that James do the dirty deed instead. James was one busy guy. Years later, when faced with our very own flesh-and-blood butler aboard the Crystal Symphony, we weren’t exactly sure what to do. Accepting a glass of champagne from the silver tray he proffered seemed the polite thing. But then what?
The true professional he is, 38- year-old Jose Goncalves Moreir sensed our confusion. “Perhaps you wish for me to make shore excursion, spa, hairdresser or dinner reservations,” our Portuguese born servant discreetly suggested. Crestfallen, we sheepishly admitted to having stood in line and made these arrangements as soon as we’d boarded the ship. Inexperience and shyness aside, we quickly learned that having a butler at one’s disposal definitely has its perks. During our first night aboard the Symphony, for example, we gave Jose two bulging laundry bags of wrinkled clothes to have pressed (one of several free services afforded Crystal Penthouse Deck guests).
We found them crisply ironed and neatly hanging in our closet a day later. When a high-heel shoe broke just before leaving our cabin on a formal night, an unflappable Jose whisked it to the ship’s shoemaker and was back, shoe fixed, in no time flat. Each evening he would bring us canapes, unbidden.“My pleasure,” was the only response we heard. Butler service is just one more enhancement certain cruise lines are using to attract or retain passengers.
The Crystal Symphony and Crystal Harmony provide butler service to an entire deck of accommodations, the Penthouse Deck. Celebrity Cruises and Costa Cruises provide fleetwide butler service to all suite-level passengers. Cunard’s QE2, Royal Olympic’s Olympia Voyager and Olympia Explorer; and five Radisson Seven Seas ships offer butler service to cruisers in select suites. Cunard’s transatlantic liner Queen Mary 2, which debuted in January and is sailing several Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale, features butler service for select suites, plus penthouse and duplex apartments.