Know What Extras You Are Getting When You Book A Suite

Many cruise lines are now offering extra service and amenities with their suites and upgraded class of rooms. However, some passengers may believe that because they have paid for a suite they are entitled to much more than the extra space and cruise lines promised amenities. In general, booking a suite entitles passengers to a larger room and usually some sort of butler or concierge service. Recently, some cruise lines have started offering even more extras with a suite. Some cruise lines like Celebrity even offer standard size rooms with an upgrade in service class called Concierge Class and Aqua Class. But even suite passengers and upgraded class passengers will still have to pay for items that are not included as part of this special package. I recently heard of a passenger complaining that she had booked a suite, but still had to pay for bottled water and was not given special priority for her tendering at a particular port.

For a long time, many cruise lines have strived to treat all passengers as if they were the most important person on the ship. The cruise lines wanted to do away with the class system that was a hallmark of the Ocean Liner days. When ships were a main source of transportation for people going from Europe to the Americas and vice versa, the majority of passengers were in steerage, with a few passengers in tourist and the select privileged few in first class. With the dawn of the pleasure cruise industry, the old class system went away as cruise companies strove to provide all passengers with the vacation of a lifetime. The motto was to treat all passengers equally, regardless of what kind of cabin they were booked in.

The one exception to this has been the Cunard Line, which has three different levels of service and dining determined by type of room booked. Their booking information clearly spells out all the perks and benefits of each type of room. For example, under their description for Queen’s Grill Suites they list the following amenities:

  • Priority embarkation with separate Grill check-in
  • Full bottle of French champagne with sugar-iced strawberries at embarkation
  • Complimentary in-room bar set up
  • Fruit basket & bottled water replenished daily or as needed
  • Full flower arrangement
  • Personalised Cunard stationery
  • In-room Xbox
  • Single-seating dining in the Queens Grill, or En Suite from the Queens Grill menu
  • 24-hour room service & Grills Concierge services
  • Butler service (including packing/unpacking service)
  • Access to Grills Concierge Lounge, Queens Grill Lounge and private Queens Grill sun Deck
  • Daily abridged newspaper
  • Shoe shine service
  • Evening canapés
  • Linens & duvet
  • Pillow Concierge offering nine pillow options
  • Nightly turndown service with pillow chocolates plus special Sweet Dreams turndown surprise on formal nights
  • Terry cloth bathrobe & slippers
  • Fine Canyon Ranch soaps & shampoos
  • Bath salts & manicure kit
  • Priority disembarkation and tender service (Q1 – Q4 only)
  • In-room DVD Player (Q1 – Q4 only)

Recently, there has been a slight shift from the completely “Classless” system by some lines which are offering some extra perks to their patrons who book suites. NCL calls their suite patrons VIP’s and offers the following exclusive amenities to passengers who book suites:

  • Priority embarkation
  • Concierge service
  • Bottled water
  • Up to 504 square feet of elegance
  • Separate sitting/dining area
  • Luxury bath
  • Private balcony*
  • Flat screen TV* with DVD player*
  • Mini-bar*
  • Coffee maker*
  • Invitation to VIP cocktail party*
  • 24-hour room service with special suite menu
  • Full in-room breakfast menu
  • Hors d’oeuvres delivered twice during cruise
  • Fine linens, duvet and
  • feather pillows
  • Plush bath robes and towels, luxurious bath amenities
  • Fresh flower arrangement and fresh fruit basket

Celebrity already offers the Concierge Class staterooms that offer extra perks like appetizers in the early evening, special shower heads and fresh flowers. They will be rolling out the new Aqua Class staterooms with their Solstice Class ships. With both Aqua Class and Concierge Class, the state rooms are generally the same size as the standard rooms. The rooms just have extras that come with them designed to offer a more upscale experience to the passengers. The Aqua Class staterooms will include:

  • Welcome champagne
  • Daily fruit selection
  • Fresh-cut flowers
  • Daily hors d’oeuvres
  • Menu of pillows-Conformance,
  • Body, Goose, and Isotonic®
  • Duvets and pillow-top mattresses
  • Leather key holder, personalized stationery and a tote bag
  • Frette bathrobes
  • Hansgrohe® showerhead
  • VIP invitations to events
  • Early embarkation and debarkation
  • Dining and seating preference
  • Preference on shore excursions
  • Express luggage delivery
  • Shoeshine service

For the most part, the suite or upgraded cabin amenities focus on making passengers in stateroom experience more pleasant. They also offer priority boarding and disembarking, however these are also often offered to repeat passengers as well. When the process is very efficient, like our boarding process in Vancouver, which took all of 15 minutes, this is really not much of a perk. When passengers book a suite or upgraded cabin class on one cruise line, they need to make sure that they are not expecting the amenities offered on another. Some offer an exclusive lounge, deck or pool. Some might offer free laundry or dry cleaning, others don’t. Some offer free bottle water, others don’t. Some might have a VIP tour as part of their suite amenity. For others it might be a special cocktail reception. You can see that the perks in these different upgraded cabins on the example lines have some crossover features. They don’t all feature the same amenities.

For their part, the cruise lines need to make sure they are complete in spelling out exactly what is included and what is not with a suite or upgraded cabin. Passengers need to read the information provided to them so that the know what to expect. Perhaps had the Celebrity passenger known that Celebrity does not include free bottled water in their suites, her cruise might have been more pleasant. Also, passengers should distinguish between a cabin with upgraded perks and a larger suite size cabin. I sailed with a passenger on the Infinity who was disappointed in the size of her Concierge Class cabin. She thought she had booked a larger cabin by upgrading to Concierge Class. She got perks instead of more room which was what she really wanted. The cruise lines also need to feature the benefits of a suite prominently in their literature and web sites. For example, dining at the “Blu” restaurant is included at no extra charge for Aqua Class passengers. However, this is listed on the Celebrity web site, but only on the page listing all the accommodations, and not listed under the specific amenities for the Aqua Class cabins. Travel agents will have to be ever vigilant in learning the ins and outs of the different classes of cabin on all the different cruise lines.