Just about everyone knows how much fun a cruise can be, but what people don’t often think about is the close proximity in which you’ll live with others. Cruise ships have plenty of open space, especially on the decks and in port cities, but there are times when you don’t have much personal space. Plus, even in open space, someone can still offend your senses or morals in a number of ways.
That’s why it’s so important that you know these five rules of cruise etiquette to help you—and your fellow passengers—have the best time possible.
Five Top Cruise Etiquette Rules
1. Dress for the Situation. On cruises, there are many opportunities to dress for the occasion. Unfortunately, some people forget that not every situation is interchangeable and decide to mix and match their occasions and outfits. For example, imagine trying to enjoy a nice formal dinner with your family, posing for a picture that will look great for the Christmas card, and some guy in a Speedo is in your shot. Or how about a lady in a thong walking around your children?
There’s a time and place for everything—bathing suits should be worn at pools, while sunbathing and at the beach, not in formal dining settings. Just because it’s your vacation doesn’t mean it’s only your vacation. Have some courtesy and expect the same in return. Just as you wouldn’t want someone ruining your vacation, don’t ruin it for others.
As a general rule, casual dress is slacks and sports shirts for men, sundresses or casual slacks for women. Smart casual means men wear coats and ties and women wear dresses or pantsuits. Formal dress means suits, ties, tuxedos and cocktail dresses.
2. Don’t Stiff the Staff. Another faux pas that many passengers make is not tipping the staff. Many feel that they’ve already paid for the service in the price of the cruise so—without malice—simply don’t leave tips. Unfortunately, on some cruise ships, wait staff are paid only about $100 a month because they are paying for their room and board—this means the literally live on the tips they receive.
While most liners will list the gratuity guidelines to help passengers get a feel for what’s deemed appropriate, it’s a good rule of thumb to think about it like this: $5 per guest per day for suite attendants, $3 per guest per day for attendants; $3 per guest per day for waiters; head waiters should get $.75 per guest per day. You should also check to see if your alcoholic beverages already have the 15% tip added to the price—if not, tip accordingly.
3. Be an Ambassador. When you go on a cruise, remember, you are representing your neighborhood, your family, your home and your country. No matter where you are from, you’re going to be thrown into the mix with people of various nationalities, religions, races, origins, etc. Announcements will often come in many different languages so be sure that you understand that just as you wanted to hear your language, others will want to hear theirs. Be polite and keep quiet so others can hear the vital safety information that you just heard. Also, create goodwill between the people and you’ll find that you have more in common with others than you’ve ever imagined!
4. Respect the Quiet of the Night. While cruise ships are fun and the parties do often go into the wee hours of the night—and morning—it’s important to realize that near the cabins, there are people that are sleeping. In fact, they might have to get up early for various reasons—try to show them respect. Leave the late night partying on the dance floor and in the bars—even up on the deck. That’s where the noise is supposed to be—not near the rooms.
Even when you slam your doors, you could wake someone up so don’t only talk quietly around the rooms, close doors quietly and don’t stomp around. You don’t have to yell goodnight down the hall to your buddies—say it with a wave.
5. Keeping the Play in the Playgrounds. Finally, as much as cruise ships are kid-friendly, some parents take advantage of this and think that it’s a free for all with the ship’s staff acting as a baby sitter. Parents shouldn’t let their kids do anything they wouldn’t let them do at home. This means no running around unsupervised, splashing and running by the pool, cannon-balling into hot tubs or playing around in the elevators.
The bottom line is that it’s important to remember that everyone on board paid for their vacations as well so the more you respect each other’s rights, the more fun everyone will have.
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