Our Top 10 Cruising Etiquette Tips

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As many people quickly discover, cruising is a wonderful way to get away from it all. Besides the thrill of experiencing, and travelling, on the high seas, cruising can also be great value for money, you get to explore a number of places on a single trip, and many of today’s modern cruise ships truly are floating resorts. In a number of ways, however, a cruise holiday is different from a getaway to a land-based resort, and there’s high seas etiquette to keep in mind. Here’s our top 10 tips to ensure smooth sailing for you and your fellow cruise mates.

Luggage Matters

Once you board your ship, you’ll want your luggage delivered to you quickly so you can settle in. To help this process along, avoid packing alcohol or anything else which is forbidden in your bags, as they will be confiscated and retained by security until you show up to collect them, all of which slows things down. Also make sure your bags are properly labelled with your name and stateroom number before arriving at the terminal to check in.

Mind The Noise 

If you’ve booked a stateroom with a balcony, be mindful that you have neighbours in the stateroom next door, and who may have a balcony of their own. Noise can travel, even at sea, so watch the noise if you’re outside early in the morning or late at night. Also, many people book staterooms with balconies so they can leave their doors open at night to hear the sound of the ocean; if you are inside with the doors open, and playing music or listening to the TV, keep the sound down.

Balcony Etiquette

There’s a divider between your balcony stateroom and your neighbours for privacy, so don’t be tempted to peek over it. And never try to feed birds from your balcony because it can create chaos, as well as be noisy and messy. Don’t leave things on your balcony while you are not in your stateroom either, as they may get soaked if the ship is being washed, which happens regularly in port, and if you’re at sea, your belongings might disappear with the wind.

Dress Appropriately

Although you’ll mostly be spending your days in casual clothing, there are a few rules when it comes to evenings. Sometimes the dress code may be more formal, where you are required to wear a black tie outfit, especially if you are planning to eat in the Dining Room. Other common dress rules include not wearing shorts or swimwear in the dining room, and for the most part going topless is not encouraged around the pool or on deck.  

The Buffet 

The risk of a norovirus outbreak on board ships is very real, particularly on larger ships. Never pick up food with you hands, and use the implements provided. Always wash your hands after using the toilet, especially public ones, and use hand sanitiser provided before entering the buffet. And while it’s fun to enjoy a wide range of choice, if the area is busy make your choices quickly so as not to hold up the line, and never cut in. 

Around The Pool 

Keep in mind that sun loungers cannot be reserved, and on many ships if you leave one unattended for more than 30 minutes staff will free it up by removing your possessions. If you sign out a towel from poolside towel service, you must also return it before you exit the pool area or you might get charged for it. Due to public health restrictions, children in nappies, or who are not completely toilet-trained, are not allowed in pools. Also be mindful of noise on deck, so use an “indoor voice” and listen to your personal music using headphones.


Many cruise lines have changed smoking policies in recent years, making it forbidden in most public areas, including on your own balcony. Find out where you can smoke and stick to those places only. And if smoking is allowed on your balcony, don’t smoke your neighbours out of their private outdoor space, and dispose of cigarette butts properly. This means that you never, ever throw them (or matches) over the edge of the ship, as they can blow back onto decks or other balconies below, and be a serious fire hazard.

Using Mobile Phones 

If you have to use your mobile phone, don’t speak at the top of your voice, especially on your balcony; you might think the call is “private” but anyone on balconies around you, including above and below, will be able to hear everything you say. Also be mindful of making calls in public areas including on deck, and in lounges and dining areas. Instead, try to find a quiet, private place to make your call or go back to your accommodation.

Traveling with Kids 

When it comes to junior cruisers, whether toddlers or teens, there are also rules. For a start, explain general cruise safety essentials to your kids before boarding, letting them know that running and not using the handrails on the stairs are against the rules, along with leaving small children unattended. Teens usually have curfew (check with your ship) and there may be some areas where children under 17 or 18 are not permitted. Overall, be considerate of your fellow cruise mates and keep a watchful eye on your children; letting your kids run wild whilst other guests are trying to relax isn’t cool.

Onboard Entertainment 

Whether you’re a fan of music, comedy or playing roulette, some of the entertainment on board ships is not always appropriate for everyone, especially younger guests. Check the daily program in case any shows are for a mature audience only, and for family shows on some ships, kids should be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Also remember that saving seats at shows is also frowned upon.

Ben Hall