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Cruise Etiquette: First Impressions Matter

Cruising can’t be a more rewarding way to escape the raw winter weather. Everyone has gone on a cruise at some time. Whether cruising from the New York area, Galveston, TX, or Florida, it is the most momentous traveling experience anyone could have. While cruising, so many great opportunities await. There is casino gambling, karaoke, and exotic cuisine. For some, it is all about forgetting the stresses of real life.

On an everyday basis, people go places or are subjected to genuine situations. There are certain places and situations which require the proper behavior. Has anyone heard that there is such a term called cruise etiquette? Yes, there is. Showing the proper etiquette aboard any cruise ship makes any cruise experience all the more enjoyable. Proper etiquette plays an effect on the experience for fellow guests. Cruise ships nowadays carry from 3,600 to as many 6,000 guests. With so many taking to the waves, it is paramount to adhere to a simple, but however sincere code of etiquette while on board ship.

While on board ship. It is crucial to exemplify the proper behavior. Whether on a five, seven, or fourteen-day voyage, the rules are no different. What etiquette should guests show while on board ship? Here’s what and what not to do.

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Acknowledge the Cruise Staff

Without these talented individuals, there would be no excitement to speak of. The cruise staff are to be considered the guests’ best friends. From sports activities, to dining, to shore excursions, the ship cannot function without them. Each and every day, guests should familiarize themselves with the cruise staff. The cruise staff will always acknowledge guests who are respectful to them. From helping guests with picking out the right watch at the duty-free shop, to assuring their safety on the rock climbing wall, to cheering the guests on in the belly flop competition, they want them all to feel welcome. First-time cruisers are not always so comfortable. Many of them may not know what to expect. Greeting the cruise staff each and every day, and thanking them for their professionalism indeed does go a long way.

Be Courteous to Fellow Guests

Home, Ship, Home

Be Courteous to Other Guests

This is a tough one. Guests come in all ages and with a wide range of personalities. They come from all over the world to sail on the voyage of their choice. It is imperative that guests be courteous to one another. The crew and staff are sharing the ship with them. In return, the guests must share the ship and the on board amenities with one another. How so? On sea days, guests should neither hold tables at the buffet, nor should they save chairs and lounges on the open decks. Yes, everyone is hungry. Yes, everyone wants to enjoy the pool and the jacuzzi. However, there is no harm in asking guests if they’re done using a table. Guests should politely ask if the towel or flip-flops left astray is theirs. Guests can do some very rude things to make the very best of their vacation. Being respectful in situations like these and exhibiting patience will certainly gain the trust of fellow guests.

Dine Appropriately

In the dining room, proper manners are crucial. The dining room staff, including the head waiter, waiters, and chefs all do a masterful job throughout the voyage. They take great pride in assuring the guests a memorable dining experience on board. Upon entering the dining room, guests must use the sanitizing gel. Even though it’s best to wash hands throughly, using the gel is considered a desired once over. Once seated, guests should politely share their dining concerns with the waiting staff. Plus, guests place their napkins on their laps right away. In the dining room, guests may be sharing a table for six. Elsewhere in the dining room, guests could be sharing a table for twelve. Regardless of how many guests are sitting together, showing the right manners makes every dining experience all the more delightful. With that said, sharing interesting stories from their day on board while enjoying their meals makes any evening all the more enjoyable.

On the first night of a cruise, guests are invited to dress casually. On a formal night, a suite and tie, tuxedo, and formal dresses are required. No baseball caps, sneakers, tank tops, or flip-flops are allowed. Guests are advised of the dining attire in the daily cruise program. Giving fellow guests the proper impression is undoubtedly critical. Unquestionably, showing proper etiquette and making a solid first impression scores brownie points with fellow guests.

Avoid Horseplay

Crew member on deck | Photo by Billeasy on Unsplash

This is the part which families must give their undivided attention. Being on vacation always brings out that awesome feeling. However, enjoying the amazing on board amenities does come with responsibility. The pool deck is the prime example. The pool deck on board any cruise ship is not like anyone’s backyard pool. At some swimming pool facilities, there are lifeguards present. On board most cruise ships, pool safety is the responsibility of the adults. On board ship, horseplay must be avoided. Sometime ago, a European family let their teenage children run roughshod around the pool area. Along the way, they mingled with another group of young people. At first, they were under some control. Then, it completely unraveled. One thing led to another. The five teenage children, along with the other young group, starting pushing each other into the pool. Immediately later, they were playing rough in the pool. Immediately after that, they were skinny dipping. They had a splendid time without incident, but it did cause discomfort among fellow guests. Being respectful of other guests in public areas is paramount. Acting safely ensures a memorable and pleasurable time for all guests.

Be Mindful of Neighbors

When guests board any ship, the first question they will ask is “When can we get into our stateroom?”. Guests are anxiously looking forward to seeing how big the bathrooms are, where the TV remote is, and of course, what kind of view they’ll have from their verandah. The staterooms are undoubtedly comfortable. The guests should treat their staterooms as being their “home away from home”. Nonetheless, proper etiquette should too be exemplified. Every stateroom should be treated like the quiet car on a train. Guests should keep their voices down and refrain from making any ruckus. Comparable to a college residence hall, the staterooms should be the place for quiet time.

Balcony rooms are great, but remember, you can be seen

While in their staterooms, guests should show a sense of decent exposure. Specifically, if guests aren’t dressed properly, they should cover up. If a stateroom has a promenade view, the curtains should be drawn closed. On the verandah, the public view is much larger. Guests should look presentable before stepping outside. A few years ago, a group of young people were sailing. Among the group were two young ladies in their mid-twenties. The ship had two decks with verandahs that jutted outwards. On more than one occasion, one of the two young ladies was the center of attention. Every morning, one of them walked out onto the verandah, stretched, and get a breath of fresh air. She was wearing a buttoned nightshirt. As she stretched, her lower extremities showed. Unknowingly, she was being admired by the guests on the decks above. One can imagine the dozens of guests keeping track of her sunbathing schedule.

A cruise vacation, unquestionably, is the ultimate getaway. Whatever the occasion may be, cruising provides the perfect cure to all the pains of everyday life. A cruise vacation provides great experiences for everyone. Nonetheless, a memorable cruise vacation cannot come without showing the proper etiquette. Proper etiquette, no matter how people choose to travel, is the root of all dignity. The on board staff should always be acknowledged. Guests should be courteous to one another. Guests indeed must refrain from horseplay. Proper dining etiquette, undoubtedly, must be shown at all times. Regardless of what cruise line, ship, or itinerary-exemplifying the proper behavior is fundamental. Chiefly, it demonstrates the tell-tale difference between a cruise vacation being extraordinarily gratifying vs. downright contemptible.  

David Kriso

Along with being a prolific travel writer and travel expert, David Kriso works part-time as a cruise line guest port services agent in the New York area. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Cruise Travel Magazine, NUSA Sun, H & E (England), Examiner.com, The Gazette and BC The Mag-the official magazine of his home area-Bergen County, New Jersey. Read more of David’s writing at on his website or on his social media channels.

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