Whether you're cruising for the first time or fiftieth, these mistakes could single you out as rude.

New to cruising? You’re not alone—cruising continues to be one of the fastest-growing sectors of tourism, according to the 2023 State of the Cruise Industry report by Cruise Lines International Association. The report shows there is more interest than ever before among Millennials and Gen-X travelers to take their first cruise, with 73 percent of those who have never cruised indicating they will consider a cruise vacation.

Ready to get your sea legs and have your first floating hotel experience? Before you go, brush up on these common etiquette mistakes that will not only make it obvious that you’re a newbie, but could also frustrate your fellow passengers (not to mention, the crew!). Being a courteous cruiser helps everyone maximize their vacation enjoyment. 

1. Ignoring Safety Briefings

Safety drills are of critical importance on cruises, so don’t miss the muster drill on embarkation day. "Many times, passengers will skip them or treat them casually," says middle Tennessee-based travel agent and cruise expert Courtney Johnston, owner at Oh, Let’s Go Travel Agency. "Conducting drills familiarizes everyone with safety procedures, emergency exits, and evacuation routes in the event of an emergency."

2. Being Late for Shore Excursions

Think you can just mosey off the ship and to a shore excursion on your own schedule? Think again: Arriving late for scheduled excursions or activities can causing delays for the entire group—or cause you to get left behind, and likely without a refund for the missed activity.

"Respect the time of your fellow travelers and the crew by arriving on time for all activities," says Tampa-based Tammy Levent, founder of Elite Travel. "If you know you'll be late or need to cancel, please let the excursion desk know as early as possible."

3. Not Respecting Dress Codes

While many cruise lines have relaxed their dress codes in recent years, there are still occasions that call for more formal attire, such as elegant dinners or themed nights. Not adhering to these can not only detract from the ambiance, says Johnston, but also make fellow passengers feel uncomfortable. In some cases, you may even be denied entry into a restaurant or lounge.

4. Not Respecting Crew Members

Treating crew members poorly or not acknowledging their hard work is no way to behave on a cruise—the crew work long shifts seven days a week during their lengthy contracts, often going six months without seeing their own families. Most of them truly love working in hospitality and strive to make your vacation special.

"Show gratitude and respect to the crew members," says Levent. "A simple thank you or a friendly smile can go a long way."

5. Reserving Lounge Chairs

Planning to wake up early and claim lounge chairs in a prime location on the pool deck with your towels and personal belongings—and then head off to the fitness center, breakfast and to a cupcake decorating demonstration before making your way back to actually use them? This is a common problem that can cause unnecessary tension among passengers, says Johnston. It's important to respect shared spaces and only reserve chairs when they will be actively utilized.

6. Neglecting Personal Hygiene

Because ships are a confined space, germs can spread quickly—that’s why you’ll see hand washing stations in the buffet and hand sanitizer stations at every restaurant entrance. "Not adhering to proper hygiene practices can affect the health and comfort of others," says Levent. "Wash your hands frequently, especially before meals and after using the restroom."

7. Disrespecting Cultural Norms

When visiting ports of call, be mindful of local customs and etiquette. "Respecting cultural norms is important for promoting cultural harmony, avoiding offense or misunderstandings, and fostering positive interactions with local communities during port visits," explains Johnston.

For instance, one item that often surprises passengers is that a handful of Caribbean islands ban visitors from wearing camouflage print, because it’s reserved for their military (you can wear these items on the ship, but not ashore). 

8. Overloading Elevators

It's normal to be eager to get to your next fun activity on the ship, but crowding elevators is unpleasant for everyone. Levent says to be patient and considerate when using elevators and to prioritize allowing space for people with disabilities, the elderly, and families with strollers. Newer ships, like Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, have destination-style elevators to help prevent overcrowding and long wait times.

9. Not Tipping Appropriately

Most cruise lines have tipping guidelines, and it is important to follow them or tip appropriately for exceptional service. "It reflects a gesture of gratitude and fosters positive relationships between guests and service providers," says Johnston.

To help mitigate the issue of under-tipping, some cruise lines automatically add a fixed daily gratuity to your final bill, so double check if that’s the case (though you are, of course, still free to tip above and beyond that amount, which is why bringing cash is one of the 12 things you should always bring on a cruise ship). 

10. Be Discreet in Shared Spaces

Of course you want to snap the perfect photos to share on social media or make a scrapbook with after your vacation, but it’s important to be discreet when using your camera in shared spaces (such as the pool, dining rooms, or gyms) when others are present.

"Aim to capture your memories without disrupting others' experiences or invading their personal space," says Levent, who suggests opting for less crowded times or locations for your photo sessions.

11. Being Loud and Disruptive

Sure you’re on vacation, and want to let loose a bit. But being excessively loud in cabins, hallways, or public areas, and disrupting the peace for others isn’t cool. Levent says to be mindful of your noise levels, especially during late hours. Use earphones for music and movies and keep conversations at a reasonable volume.

By adhering to these 11 tips, you'll go a long way toward enhancing your own cruising experience and contributing to a pleasant and harmonious environment for all passengers and crew.

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2024-06-21T17:15:49Z dg43tfdfdgfd