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SAILING THROUGH THE DECADES

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In the continuation of our Meet the Crew series, this month we would like to introduce Rao Prasanth, Head Butler aboard Crystal Serenity. When he is not sailing with Crystal he most enjoys spending time at home in Kerala, India with his wife and two children. I was honored to spend some time with him during our inaugural sailing this summer.

Written by

Authoress Zoe Hearne

Zoe Hearne

Published on 01/22/2024

Crystal Rao head butler
Rao has almost 20 years experience with Crystal

Thanks for meeting with me; I understand you have a busy schedule. Can you tell me a little bit about how your journey with Crystal began?

My journey with Crystal began in 2005. Previously I was a butler at a five-star hotel in Dubai. I loved it there, but I had heard whispers of Crystal being the pinnacle for elite butlers, and that's where my sights were set.

I've been with Crystal for 18 years. I started as an assistant waiter, and after six years of aspiring to be a butler, in 2011, an opening emerged – for one cruise. The Hotel Director knew that I had been a butler in the past and I had often expressed my interest in changing departments. Finally, my chance came, and I never looked back. Within a year, in 2012, I was promoted to head butler. Over the years at sea, I’ve attended to many of our valued guests, including Mr. and Mrs. Steiner.

How does it feel to work with Crystal?

Working with Crystal is about passion. It's a wonderful feeling being on the same ship with the same guests. When they arrive, I don't need to ask what they want; I just know. Unlike colleagues in other luxury cruise companies who see themselves as room service waiters, Crystal is more—it's about knowing the guests and anticipating their needs before they realize them.

What does your job entail?

In my role as a head butler, I ensure all guests are happy and well-taken care of. In addition, I provide butler service to our VIP guests.

Mentoring and training butlers, in the ethos of Crystal, is essential. The first 60 seconds when you meet your butler onboard are crucial—it's about making the guest feel comfortable and putting yourself in their shoes for the best experience.

Do you have any memorable experiences that you can share?

Oh so many! There are two standout memories in my 18 years with Crystal. The first, with Colonel Hawthorn, a 98-year-old World Cruiser and war veteran, who dreamed of teeing off from the Great Wall of China. It just so happened that the World Cruisers were having an event on the Great Wall, so I asked the destination experience manager if they could help make Colonel Hawthorne’s dream come true. Just before the dinner started, he was told he could tee off. His joy was palpable. We then mounted the club he had used with a commemorative plaque in the captain's quarters. It was unforgettable.

The second story involves a young couple, where I orchestrated a proposal during a special meal. I had planned a meal with all of the young lady’s favorite foods and they were having a great time. For the dessert, however - strawberry cheesecake, I remember - I had arranged to have a small chocolate disc with "Will you marry me" written on it, which would only be discovered at the end of the meal. She said yes, by the way!

Making moments like these is why I love my job. As butlers with Crystal, we want to create one-of-a-kind lasting impressions that no other cruise company can replicate.

How did you feel when you heard that the company was returning to sail?

When the call came that we were returning to sail, over 80% of the butlers returned. The joy of getting the call from the ship, asking if I was ready to return, was not only indescribable but a no-brainer. Returning in January 2023, I started the training and onboarding process, gearing up for the inaugural sailings. I'm now sailing Crystal Serenity for the World Cruise 2024.

Meet Rao onboard Crystal Serenity during the World Cruise until April 14th, 2024.

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