How Royal Genies Introduce Luxury Service Into Mainstream Cruising
On Harmony of the Seas, I met with 'Royal Genie' Reyno Varkevisser to discuss the finer side of luxury travel.
Sat in the comfortably spacious Suite Lounge in the ship nursing cappuccinos, Reyno walked me through the Royal Genie service onboard the world's biggest cruise ship.
Harmony of the Seas offers 103 suites, including Grand Suites, AquaTheater Suites, Royal Family Suites, Owner's Suites, Royal Loft Suites, Sky Loft Suites, and Crown Loft Suites.
These come with access to the Suite Lounge where guests can use the services of a concierge. They can source show tickets, make dinner reservations, and so on.
So far, so straightforward. The set-up is similar to that found on other cruise lines. But Royal Caribbean has gone one step further for its top-paying guests.
What is a Royal Genie?
When you pay $40,000 (≈ £35,088) for a luxury suite aboard a week-long holiday on the world's largest cruise ship you may expect service tailored just for you.
After all, if you paid this for a break at a land-based resort, you'd get five-star VIP treatment. So why shouldn't this be the case at sea?
That is where Harmony of the Seas' three Royal Genies come in, serving just the top 10 suites onboard (one Royal Loft Suite, two Sky Loft Suites, six two-bedroomed AquaTheater Suites, and one Four Bedroom Family Suite in case you wanted to book one).
Following intensive training at the British Butler Institute, Royal Genies head to the cruise line's training facility where they then learn the Royal Caribbean way.
Royal Genies are not stateroom attendants with extra responsibilities. Entirely separate to the housekeeping division, Royal Genies can take care of restaurant, show, and customised shore excursion reservations, can plan in-room parties, can take care of laundry, ironing and shoe shining, unpack luggage, and more.
Reyno likened himself to Charles Carson from the ITV television series, Downton Abbey. Royal Genies are butlers, concierges, and personal assistants all rolled into one.
His philosophy was "luxury is never having to ask." Royal Genies are trained to pre-empt every whim by creating a tailored and bespoke experience.
How does a Royal Genie differ to a concierge?
Royal Genies are mobile and meet guests whenever and wherever they desire. By contrast, the concierge is only available in the Suite Lounge between certain hours.
Royal Genies look after fewer suites, with three looking after just ten suites. The concierge caters to the remaining 93, allowing Royal Genies to offer a far more bespoke service.
Royal Genies are best friends on holiday. Before boarding, they get in touch with their guests through an instant messaging app to answer questions and to get to know them. A pre-cruise survey is sent out designed to help the Royal Genies profile guests to ensure their service is flawless from start to finish. Those guests that complete the survey and connect using the app get the most out of the relationship with their allocated Genie.
There are some who don't have time to complete surveys, who aren't technologically savvy, or who will only engage in face-to-face conversations. While the lack of a pre-cruise connection means that the Royal Genies have little to go off on boarding day, Reyno boasted that the Royal Genies are trained to profile guests very quickly so as to serve them better.
Royal Genies in action
"Luxury is never having to ask." Reyno's earlier statement had got me thinking.
Weeks before my cruise, I spent hours arranging dining and show reservations online (Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner isn't the easiest platform to use, although it is better than some others). When I stepped aboard, the printed Daily Planner was my best friend. I used this to plan out my day religiously and to adapt it as, and when, my two-year-old's mood changed.
Naively I assumed that most people did this to some degree (perhaps not to the same extent). Alas, not.
Passengers typically booking into a top suite are often financially wealthy but time-poor. If you have several personal assistants looking after your daily affairs, you are most likely not going to spend time pre-booking every aspect of your holiday.
Of course, Royal Genies can make reservations at the request of guests. But they can also influence and shape the holiday.
Reyno gave an example of a steak-loving passenger who might have booked into Chops Grille for the duration of his cruise, much to the disappointment of his wife who desperately wanted to dine at one of the many other restaurants. In this scenario, he would suggest Wonderland's irresistible Terroir Beef dish, armed with photographs of the dish of course.
The role of a Royal Genie is to enhance the holiday, and in this example, the Wonderland experience may well become the couple's most memorable dining experience.
Only ever enhancing holidays takes a lot of skill and understanding. Suggesting a mismatched restaurant choice, for example, could jeopardise the Genie's relationship and could impact on the enjoyment of the holiday.
Recommendations are bespoke and tailored to the individual passengers. Through incremental enhancements, Royal Genies can elevate a standard cruise holiday into an unforgettable experience.
How to claim your very own Royal Genie
Royal Genies can be found on Oasis-class ships (Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, and Harmony of the Seas) as well as Quantum-class ships (Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, and Ovation of the Seas).
Not all suites come with this exclusive service. It is part of the Star-class Royal Suite experience and applies to selected cabin grades only.
You can find out more about the Star-class Royal Suite experience here.
Would you use the services of a Royal Genie, or would you find it a little intrusive? Leave a comment below.