Navigating Cruise Ship Etiquette

cruise ship etiquetteIt’s a great time of year to take to the open seas! When you embark on a cruise vacation, don’t forget to pack your manners!

Before you step on board, here are a few cruise etiquette tips to help you — and your fellow shipmates– avoid rocky seas.


Be courteous

You are on a floating hotel, with thousands of people for a week. This is the time to really roll out the manners. If for example, there’s a line at the elevator, take the stairs. When in your cabin, keep your voice down. The walls are thin and your neighbors can hear you! If you are a slow walker, move to the side of the narrow hallway to let others pass by—especially if it’s a rocky night at sea!

Follow the dress code

Check the dress code so you don’t make fashion faux pas. Refer to your ship’s daily program for appropriate attire for the evening’s activities. Many cruise ships have formal nights and on other nights, after 6 pm, many of the ships have specific recommendations on appropriate attire for the evening.

Example: jeans or cutoff shorts are not likely to be appropriate attire in the main dining rooms in the evening. The dress code information for each cruise line is typically available on their website so it’s best to check before you pack so you’re not stuck for something to wear!

Don’t overindulge

Most food, and sometimes alcohol, is already paid for and so it can be easy to overindulge, especially since you’re in vacation mode! Remember that too much food or alcohol can enhance the effects of rocky seas and it would be no fun at all to spend your vacation recovering in your cabin. Additionally, the floors on the ship can become slippery and you wouldn’t want to risk a fall.

Don’t be a seat saver

Saving the lounge chairs by the pool is a no-no in cruise culture, and yet I see it happening every time I take a cruise. Just because you’re the early bird, doesn’t mean it’s polite to pile your towels and sunscreen on a chair and then skedaddle to breakfast. If you’re not using the chair, be polite and leave it available for others.

Keep and eye on your children

If you’re on a family cruise vacation, remember that it’s not going to be a vacation from parenting. Most cruise lines have wonderful children’s programs that allow the parents a few hours of fun in the sun while the kids are safe at play. When not under the supervision of the cruise crew, be sure to keep an eye on your kids so that they are safe. Not only is it unsafe for them to have full reign of the ship, it can disrupt the enjoyment of the other passengers on ship.

Wait your turn

Disembarking the ship when you are at a port of call can be downright frustrating. Everyone wants to get in as much time as they can during the short time ashore. Be patient. It’s all part of the journey, so you may as well just breathe and enjoy it.

Arrive on time

Speaking of disembarking, if you leave the ship when it’s at a port of call, be wary of the time. The ship WILL leave port on time. You don’t want to be that couple that are running down the boardwalk as the ship is pulling away from the dock.

Know what to tip

All ships have their own policies, so be sure you review these before you leave the house. A good rule of thumb is to tip each person who has helped you on the ship – and it’s per person, not per cabin

And don’t forget the three “C’s at sea: Let consideration, courtesy and civility guide you on your journey!

Safe travels!

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