Q&A: Head butler on a Regent Seven Seas Cruises ship

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is known for all-suite accommodation and top service, but what goes on behind the scenes? Katie McGonagle speaks to Premkumar Gajapathy

Q. How did you come to work for Regent Seven Seas Cruises?

A. I’m from Chennai, where I worked for the Oberoi and Marriott. Joining Regent was an accident – I was sharing an apartment with four friends and one morning woke to find them getting dressed formally. I asked where they were going, and they said they had an interview with RSSC. I joined them and they didn’t make it but I was selected. I owe this career to my friends, and now I’m in my 12th year.

Q. What does a typical day involve?

A. It starts with a big smile for my team in the galley, who are serving breakfast. I help where needed, complete some admin and look after my guests, then I have a team meeting and training in the afternoon.

This is followed by cocktail hour, when we provide canapés and cocktails in-suite, before escorting guests to the speciality restaurants, all before evening turndown service. Once my shift is over, I socialise with the team in the crew bar or mess room, and talk to family.

Q. How challenging is it trying to anticipate what guests want?

A. A butler’s job is unique. Every guest is different in their own space, so the service must be tailored. We observe guest habits in their suite – such as how they arrange their personal things or the drinks and foods they gravitate towards – and follow their preferences.

Q. What is your favourite part of the job?

A. Travelling and meeting people – learning about different cultures, traditions, cuisines and lifestyles. I also enjoy speaking to guests from around the world and learning about their countries.

Q. How does it feel to have repeat guests each year?

A. When a guest remembers one of the crew, there’s a feeling of pride. Likewise, when we remember a guest and know their name, that person immediately feels at home.

Q. Do you get time to explore?

A. I often go ashore on my afternoon break. Favourite places so far are Alaska and Norway, in terms of natural beauty and landscapes. For modern city life, I love Melbourne, New York and Dubai.

PICTURE: Stephen Beaudet.

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