Review: Royal Caribbean Royal Genie Experience

Star Class guests on Royal Caribbean get their own personal Royal Genie- an onboard butler who makes magic happen. Here's my experience.

Royal Caribbean passengers travelling in Star Class get access to the Royal Genie service, described by the company as the “ultimate insider”. 

Genies provide white glove service throughout the cruise: restaurants are never full, there’s no such thing as a booked-out show, lines don’t exist, and while they can’t have anyone killed, they can recommend some very affordable hitmen. 

On my recent Spectrum of the Seas cruise, I had the opportunity to experience Royal Genie service myself, following a successful RoyalUp bid from a Junior Suite to a Grand Loft Suite. 

Review: Royal Caribbean Spectrum of the Seas Grand Loft Suite

Here’s what my experience was like.

What can a Royal Genie do?

I don’t think they allow open flames onboard cruise ships…

According to Royal Caribbean, Royal Genies provide: 

  • Royal Genie Escort and Expedited Luggage Handling on Day of Boarding and Final Departure
  • Arranges Prime Seating in Select Entertainment Venues
  • Provides Dining and Beverage Recommendations and Manages Reservations
  • Coordinates Shopping in Onboard Luxury Brand Boutiques
  • Plans Special Celebrations for Personal Events
  • Handles Special Requests
  • And much more…

It’s the “and much more” which is left ambiguous. In the lead up to the cruise, I did some research on the various cruise message boards, and found that some common requests were:

  • In-suite cocktail parties
  • Ordering in-room dining from specialty restaurants
  • Arranging bridge tours
  • Organising VIP shore excursions
  • Keeping kids entertained while mum and dad have some me-time

Here’s an interview with an actual Genie, who shares some interesting anecdotes of things he’s done.

Like every service interaction, YMMV. Some Genies will move heaven and earth to fulfill their guests’ every whim, others do the bare minimum. It really depends on your luck, but openly communicating your needs and preferences will go a long way.

Pre-cruise

The Royal Genie usually contacts Star Class guests ~6 weeks before departure.

Since my RoyalUp bid only cleared a week before departure, however, there was much less runway to work with. I got a welcome email the following day.

 

Thank you for choosing Royal Caribbean International. I hope you’re getting excited for your upcoming adventure. My name is XXX, and I am thrilled to serve as your Royal Genie. I can’t wait to welcome you to your Grand Loft Suite onboard Spectrum of the Seas on 01/29/2024.

I’m thrilled to help you create the most memorable vacation ever. If you have any requests for dining, shows, tours, activities or are celebrating any special occasions, please send them my way. To get started, I recommend you begin reserving your Shore Excursions and any Spa services now on Cruise Planner http://www.royalcaribbean.com/cruiseplanner.

To ensure a seamless experience in our diverse dining options, we kindly request that you notify us in advance of your dining preferences. Please be aware that a cancellation fee will be applied to your Seapass account for last-minute no-shows at specialty dining venues. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated. 

As you may know, Complimentary Specialty Restaurants are part of your Star Class amenities, reservations are required (except Gold Dining & Silver Dining which you can always walk in during the opening hours). 

Please kindly find the Specialty Restaurant list as below for your easy reference:  

  • Wonderland: Dishes beyond your wildest imagination. – opens for dinner only       
  • Hot Pot: Chinese Cuisine. – opens for dinner only 
  • Sichuan Red: Asian-inspired flavors.    
  • Jamie’s Italian: Taste your way to Tuscany at Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver.              
  • Chops Grille: Classic American Steak House.              
  • Izumi: Far East flavors and fresh-rolled sushi.  
  • Teppanyaki: Feast your eyes on incredible Asian dishes prepared right at your table.   
  • Gold Dinning: Complimentary restaurant. Mediterranean and Californian Cuisine with Asian selections, opens for Star & Sky Class guests only
  • Silver Dinning: Complimentary restaurant. Buffet style dining opens for Suites guests only (Star, Sky & Sea Class).     
  • Chef’s Table: Exclusive wine pairing dinner, sharing table experience (At additional value of $25/person plus 18% gratuities for Star Class).   

Please share with me your dining preferences below so I can arrange accordingly. Lunch normally opens from 11:30pm to 1pm, and Dinner normally opens from 5:30pm to 9pm(early seating is 5:30/6pm, and the late seating is 7:30/8pm).   

From this point on, any questions or requests can be sent my way. I’m looking forward to seeing you onboard soon and helping to make your trip extra special.

I was actually expecting to get the questionnaire I read about online, with quirky questions such as “name three people throughout history you would like to invite to dinner” and “if you could only bring three things with you to a deserted island, what would they be”. But maybe that doesn’t really work in Asia, where clientele can be more reserved and a more business-like approach preferred. 

The Genie also attached a letter outlining the standard Star Class benefits.

I found my Genie to be very prompt with responses over email; even faster once I got their WhatsApp contact. I provided the restaurants and activities I was interested in, and after a few rounds of iteration, got the following schedule. 

What was good?

You may have noticed that my schedule makes reference to 4 pax, because we were travelling with my parents, who were in a Sea Class Junior Suite. 

Sea Class entitlements, needless to say, are very different from Star Class, and I was wondering how much of the cruise we’d be able to enjoy with them.

Star, Sky and Sea entitlements | Source: Singapore Cruise Society
Star, Sky and Sea entitlements | Source: Singapore Cruise Society

Even though the letter of the law says that Royal Genie services can’t be extended to any guests not residing in a Star suite, I appreciated that they weren’t overly rigid on this. 

Obviously, you shouldn’t be putting the Genie in a difficult position by asking them to get non-Sky/Star guests into Gold Dining, or complimentary drinks for guests without a beverage package. But smaller things like reserving a couple of extra seats at shows, inviting them to join the bridge tour, and arranging for priority disembarkation in Penang and Singapore weren’t issues at all. The Genie was also able to coordinate all our specialty dining reservations so we sat at the same table.

Again, the ability of the Genie to extend Star Class benefits to non-Star Class guests is really a function of how many. Two extra people might be within “close one eye” territory; more probably won’t be.

North Star

Onboard, the Genie experience was really quite something. Even though the ship was sailing at close to full capacity (COVID-era restrictions are long gone), we never waited in a single queue. Bumper cars, laser tag, iFly, Flow Rider, you name it.

While it’s not mentioned as a Star Class benefit, there was no extra charge for any activities such as laser tag and North Star, nor the galley tour that we did. None of the upcharges on the specialty dining menus applied to us (though on other ships, that may not be the case), and the only thing billed to my account at the end of the trip was US$25 for the wine pairing at Chef’s Table.

We always got the best seats in the house for all shows, and only needed to be there 15 minutes before curtain up to secure them (I didn’t think much of the shows onboard Spectrum – Silk Road in particular was completely incomprehensible – but that’s another topic for another time).

The Effectors
Showgirl
Silk Road

Throughout the cruise, the Genie was readily available, and I never waited more than five minutes for a Whatsapp reply.

What could be improved?

While the Genie provided us with an enjoyable experience overall, I felt there were some areas where the service wasn’t quite to the same levels as what we’d experienced with butlers at 5-star hotels.

For example, I wanted to have a look inside the Ultimate Family Suite, so I asked the Genie about it. The Genie informed me the suite was occupied on this sailing, so it wouldn’t be possible. That’s fair enough, but a better response might have been “let me check what time they’re leaving on the final day, and if you’re departing after them of course we can arrange it”.

We purchased an unlimited photo package, and were growing frustrated with how hard photographers were to find onboard. Unlike Quantum, where they were readily found on the outside decks, Solarium, and roving from table to table at speciality dining restaurants, the photographers on Spectrum were mainly on Decks 4 and 5, with those cheesy fake-looking backdrops. 

I raised this with the Genie, who simply reminded me where the photographers on the ship were (which I already knew). Given that the Genie knew our dining schedule already, a more proactive step might have been sending a photographer to our table that evening.

At Chef’s Table, the dish we liked the most was, surprisingly, the bread. Served as a starter, the 150 Central Park Bread, as it’s called, was the best Parker House roll I’ve had in my life. I sent a photo to the Genie and asked if we could have it again at breakfast, but was told it was only available at Chef’s Table or Taste of Royal. In fact, it was our waiter who showed more initiative, by suggesting that we have room service deliver an extra roll to the room, then heat it up for breakfast the following day. 

Best. Bread. Ever

So it’s very simple things like that where I felt there was room for improvement. Obviously, not every request can be granted, but I’ve always thought the hallmark of great service is to say “I can’t do X, but what I can do instead is Y”. That didn’t really happen here.

How much should you tip the Genie?

While Star Class guests receive complimentary gratuities, this doesn’t cover the Royal Genie.

If your Genie went above and beyond to make your cruise memorable, do consider recognising their efforts. How much you give is really up to you, but I’ve read online that figures range from US$50-100 a day.

Conclusion

No queues and easy reservations are great to have, but they’re pretty much table stakes for Star Class guests. The opportunity to make a lasting impression comes from the Royal Genie Service, and the best Genies craft the kind of bespoke experiences that take into account guest’ preferences and personality.

I’d say our overall Genie experience was very good, though perhaps not to the level of accounts I’d read online (there’s obviously some self-selection bias here, in the sense that those who have had fantastic experiences are more likely to write about them). 

That said, it’s a classic case of YMMV, and your experience will almost certainly be different from mine. The golden rule is to communicate often and openly with your Genie, and let them work their magic. 

What was your Royal Genie experience like?

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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So did you tip your royal genie?

cheryl

Last day is when they are busy trying to turnover the ship, so I don’t think they will accommodate that, plus they will be busy being genies for guests that fell in their department as little as 48 hours in advance, and “after” disembarkation, they need to fully clear the boat and technically don’t have to be your genie on disembarkation day.

cheryl

I think 50 usd per day tip is way too low considering you dont have to pay gratuities vs non-genie rooms pay already about that. I did think your genie went above and beyond because the extended your benefit to your parents too ( they didn’t have to) and came up with a really good schedule in sucha short time.

Cheryl

I absolutely hate it when I leave my mess in there and housekeeping let’s passerbys (near lifts) peak into my owner’s suite. My man always tells me I have nothing to hide but still don’t like it. I guess could always check online for room videos aplenty. Actually I have done multiple sky class suites on Quantum and Spectrum and at no point in my at least 4 cruise did I feel extra special. It was almost as if on the last day, i was suddenly a normal human being and queued everywhere while disembarking.

kelvins

may i ask star class’s unlimited Speciality dining the same as if you book sea class and buy unlimited dining package for Speciality dining?

Alan

How much did you bid to get the Grand Loft Suite?

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