Cruising Etiquette

Cruising Etiquette

By: Tina Hayes & Indigo Silva

Going on vacation is always a treat, especially during the summer months. A popular trend in the past few years has been to take a cruise. Speaking from experience, going on a cruise is a jam-packed adventure and wonderful getaway. The experience however can quickly turn sour if certain decorum is not kept. Here are some suggestions to remember the next time you are cruising.

Don’t Complain: Nothing is worse than being excited for your day and hearing someone else speak negative about their experience. The key to life and vacation is, “nothing is perfect.”  Do not expect everything to flow perfectly as planned; unfortunately, things do happen. Keep a positive attitude during times of adversity.

Follow the Rules: Adhere to the signs around the cruise liner, especially those pertaining to smoking, children and safety. Smoking is only allowed in the designated areas. If you are unaware of these locations, politely ask a crew member. In general, for safety purposes, it is not advisable to allow young children to roam freely around the ship. At the onset of the cruise, all passengers are required to participate in a safety drill. These drills are mandatory! Following the rules is the ultimate sign of respect and will help you have a fun and safe cruise. 

Be Mindful of Others: A cruise ship is not your home, hence, do not walk the halls in your sleepwear. Be aware of the times you come in and out of your cabin. Do not slam the doors or be noisy in the hallways during the night hours. If you have portable electronics, keep the volume at a respectable level so you don’t disturb others. On private balconies or in your cabin, do not blast your music. During shows on the ship, be respectful to the performers. Do not “boo” or get up in the middle of the performance; this can be a distraction to others and the performer. When on an elevator, be courteous and hold the doors open for others you see trying to catch a ride. Do not cram the elevator full. If you have a large party with you, graciously decline to enter when it stops on your floor if it looks crowded; no one likes being crammed tight in an elevator. 

When Embarking at Ports: If you want to be the first person off the ship, make sure you arrive at the embarking areas before the scheduled departure. Don’t forget your travel documents which should include your passport or any form of identification such as an ID card, driver’s license or birth certificate. You will not be allowed to board the ship without the personal information. According to Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas Cruise Director Richard Spacey, adult cruisers with no passport need to bring a government-issued identification card in addition to their birth certificates in order to board the ship. Remember, everyone is just as anxious as you are to see what’s at a port city. So practice patience and good manners. Always have a watch or clock handy, so you can give yourself enough time to explore and get back on the ship before it leaves port. 

At Dinner: Make sure you review the cruise line’s daily program to see what attire is requested for dinner. Some evenings, formal wear is expected. On seven-day cruises, there are usually two formal nights, and one formal night is set aside for shorter cruises. It is not good decorum to show up in casual clothes to a formal occasion. If you do not want to get all “dolled-up,” other dining options such as the buffet are always available.

At the Buffet: Buffets are popular due to the vast amount of choices. Because you have so many choices, make sure you take a walk around the buffet before getting in line to see all of the options. Go with the flow of traffic when standing in line. Do not cut in front or become irritated if someone is moving slow; wait your turn. When the food is being replenished, wait patiently, then express a kind word of thanks to the dining staff. Use a clean plate each time you go back through the line. Always use tongs or utensils when taking food from the platters. Under no circumstance should you place food from your plate back on to a platter. Do not sniff or taste foods you are unfamiliar with; if you are unsure of a dish ask a server to enlighten you. Table manners when dining with others still applies when dining buffet style. Do not begin to eat until at least half of the table has returned. Remember, your dining excursion is a way to enjoy a meal with others.   

At The Pool: If you are traveling with children, pay close attention to them when they are at the pool. Do not let them disturb others. Follow the rules listed in the pool area. A major challenge when lounging at the pool is finding enough chairs to accommodate your group. Do not go out to the pool area before it is opened and save chairs.

Tipping: Many crew members earn the majority of their salary from tips. The appropriate amount to tip is usually listed in the ship’s program. Of course, you are allowed to pay more or less according to the service you received. In keeping with good cruise etiquette, I suggest you give at least the standard amount unless your service was poor. Most cruise lines require you to keep a credit card on file, and typically the suggested tip amount is automatically added to your bill at the end of the cruise. If you prefer to tip directly in cash, that is perfectly fine. It is best to give your tips on the last night of sailing, because some crew members may leave the ship early or you may not be able to locate them.

For those of you planning to take a cruise in the near future, be sure to follow these etiquette tips. Gestures of good manners and politeness may brighten someone’s day. Always remember to enjoy yourself on your vacation and have fun!

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Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Antioch, CA. As a passionate instructor dedicated to providing quality and professional etiquette training to her clients, Mrs. Tina Hayes promotes the awareness that social presentation and behaviors are important to be successful in today's society for all ages.