Monday, October 5, 2009

Manners Monday: Cruise Ship Etiquette

If you haven't had the chance to vacation aboard a cruise ship, I highly recommend trying it. As many people are looking at how they can use up the remaining days of their vacation, all-inclusive vacations and cruises are generally popular options. I have been looking at some cruise options for an upcoming Milestone birthday that my husband will be celebrating in the coming months. While I was in cruise planning mode, I thought now was an appropriate time to share some cruise ship etiquette!

Cruises are a wonderful place to relax and unwind. There is nowhere to drive to once aboard the ship and all of your meals, onboard activities and entertainment are included (besides drinking and gambling of course). There are beautiful spas to be enjoyed, pools to lounge beside and wonderful cuisine to be devoured! You can even take some exciting day trip excursions to see all of the sights, to many it is the perfect vacation. It also happens to be one of the least expensive options as it includes many things that you would be paying for separately during other trips, including the ever-popular all-inclusive vacation. With that said, like all areas of life, there is some etiquette that needs to be adhered to so everyone can enjoy a happy vacation.

After experiencing several different cruise destinations with various cruiselines, I felt these tips were the most important and beneficial to new and regular cruisers alike.

1.  Once aboard, while walking the halls of the ship during the day or evening, dress appropriately. Underwear or nightwear are not acceptible. It's best to wear a cover up over swimwear also.

2.  If you are traveling with young children, be sure to watch over them and ensure that they aren't running through the halls or splashing other patrons in the pools. Anything that would be considered inconsiderate on land is equally as impolite on the ship.

I recall two couples (they were sisters) that sat at the table behind us on our last cruise. They brought their 2 and 3 year old girls to the table each night of our fine dining restaurant who were loud, disruptive and a complete nuisance. It was very distracting and I have no idea how they felt relaxed with toddlers past their bedtime. Their female server tried each night to take the girls for a little walk or calm them down to allow the other dining patrons to enjoy their meal. Luckily, there are babysitting services on board for these vary instances.

3.  There are designated smoking areas on ships, make sure you smoke within them. Smoking on balconies is generally not permitted although it happens all the time. My husband and I have been the victim of secondhand smoke in the past while enjoying a good book out on our balcony. As non-smokers, we found it to be overwhelming so we wound up spending our quiet time in the spa area or by the pool instead.

4.  Adhere to the ship's dress code. Most evenings will call for smart casual wear with one or more evenings dedicated to formal attire. The cruise ship's website will also provide this information so you'll know exactly what to pack before heading to your destination.

5.   Keep the noise to a minimum! The walls can be thin on the ship, so it's best to err on the side of quiet in cabins or other quiet areas like the library. Cabin door slamming is a common complaint of many as they can be heavy and therefore loud if not held and shut properly. It's best to push it closed gently and not let it slam shut, especially in the later hours when many are asleep. Talking at a normal volume is generally never a problem, but yelling after kids or to another family member down a hallway will be heard by many.

6.  When embarking, re-boarding after a day of excursions or waiting in line at a buffet it's never okay to jump the queque. Simply wait your turn as you would in any other line. Encourage your children to do the same, no matter how hungry they are feeling or how much they want to get back on the ship. Be prepared by having your cruise ID card ready to be scanned as to not slow down the line.

7.  Tip as you normally would in any other circumstance. Many times the employee's main incomes come from tips and they work hard 7 days per week (yes, you read that correctly they do not get a day off for months on end) so show them a little love for their hard work and provide a gratuity at the end of your vacation.

My best recommendation if you are looking for the creme de la creme, is to go with Celebrity cruise lines-especially their newer or newly refurbished ships. The only problem is you may be ruined for any future cruises. I last boarded the Solstice for a wonderful European cruise but they also tour through the Caribbean in the summer months if that's your thing. As the name suggests, I guarantee you will get the royal treatment and feel just like a Celebrity! This is now my favorite cruise line.

Want more travel etiquette? Read my post on International Etiquette, just for fun! Read this post on the essentials to pack in a carry on bag if you haven't traveled in a while.

Do you cruise? How many have you been on? Which cruiseline is your favorite? Share your stories with us!


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