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Navigating the seas of housekeeping excellence: Insights from Royal Caribbean’s fleet

Lycette and Associates (L&A) recently conducted training for Royal Caribbean International in Miami, Florida, USA: The Housekeeping Leadership Conference for Royal Caribbean International Miami 2024

The L&A team of Janine Hancox and Anne-Lyse Dufour flew with me to Miami from Australia and London in mid-March to conduct a Housekeeping Leadership Conference for 38 housekeeping managers and leaders from Royal Caribbean’s fleet.

To ensure the content of the conference was relevant, Janine and I had previously spent seven days onboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas. The cruise was an opportunity to learn and understand how ship housekeeping systems work compared to hotels on land. From this, we were able to design a highly relevant two-and-a-half-day conference session, covering topics including leadership, finance, coaching, handling conflict, motivational strategies, stock control and problem-solving.

Originally published in the latest AccomNews print issue. Read it HERE

Unlike hotels, cruise ships have a “turn around day”; the day when sailing guests disembark the ship between 9 am to 10.00 am and new guests begin arriving by 1.00 pm. Each State Room Attendant services an average of 23 rooms, so a lot of preparation is required and some pretty fantastic organisation.

Lycette and Associates (L&A) recently conducted training for Royal Caribbean International in Miami, Florida, USA: The Housekeeping Leadership Conference for Royal Caribbean International Miami 2024

Heavy-duty cleaning is done in the days prior, and a spare set of bedding is made up and placed under the beds in storage bags. Cruise ships require an extra step of disinfection following all the regular cleaning steps. Some of the public area team and other non-room related housekeeping staff are also rostered on a rotation basis to help strip State Rooms and make beds.

Another important part of the operation is the ordering of supplies and equipment. There is no opportunity to pop out to the shops if something is missing.

Most of the supplies are dispatched from Miami, so it’s a fine line between over-ordering and running out of stock. Space onboard is also at a premium.

Apart from taking care of the State Rooms, Housekeeping is also responsible for the vast public areas on the ships, all the pools, pool decks, back of house and staff areas including accommodation.

The restaurants onboard are the responsibility of the Food and Beverage team, and this includes all the daily cleaning, carpet shampooing, and upholstery.

Lycette and Associates (L&A)

The on-board laundry is the responsibility of the Laundry Master who reports to the Executive Housekeeper. The 13-chamber batch washer and dryers can process more than 100 kilograms of laundry per day.

There are strict regulations on when and where anything can be disposed of. Water generated through the washing process is recycled. Any combustible waste is incinerated, generating heat for hot water. All other recycled materials such as glass and aluminium are sent ashore for recycling.

As the housekeeping team, and indeed all the ship crew, live onboard for months at a time, maintaining morale is a critical part of the Executive Housekeeper’s role. The challenge of constantly changing staff, including fresh team members not used to living and working on a ship, requires strategic management.

At every port, part of the team will leave for a break or the end of their contract, and new team members will arrive. These team members need to be quickly integrated so training is key. This is also where strong quality control systems come into play. Working with a truly multicultural team, keeping them keen, interested and engaged is demanding, yet adds to the quality of guest interaction.

The Housekeeping Leadership Conference for Royal Caribbean International Miami 2024

It’s not only the team who are so varied, the guests are also very diverse depending on the ship, the route or part of the world the ship is operating in. Daily challenges such as bad weather and virus outbreaks are always a test for the housekeeping teams. The emphasis in housekeeping operations must always be on teamwork. However, this is even more critical on a ship, as the individuals are part of the shipboard family, taking care of each other and keeping everything ship-shape.   

The L&A Housekeeping Leadership Conference held for Royal Caribbean International was highly successful. Participant feedback showed that they valued the opportunity to interact and learn from us, and from each other, to sharpen their skills, and feel confident to face any challenges in the future. 

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