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13 Things Polite People Never Do on Cruises

chair hogs

Although the main purpose of going on vacation is to escape the routine of daily life, you must remember the importance of practicing common courtesy while on your cruise, as it will make the experience more enjoyable for everyone. 

Cruise lines have rules in place to foster a positive and safe environment for both passengers and crew members. Some rules, such as designated smoking areas, are clearly defined, whereas others may be more implicit. 

Not only is breaking the rules considered rude, but it also risks jeopardizing the safety and well-being of others. Moreover, certain behaviors are impolite, even if they aren't outright banned. 

Here's a list of 13 things polite people never do on cruises. 

Be rude to crew members


The crew members onboard work hard to ensure you have a memorable vacation. While everything may not always go according to plan (i.e., perhaps the bartender heard your order wrong or your Main Dining Room service is slow), you shouldn't take out your anger on the crew. 

If you have a major concern, head to Guest Services to try and get the issue resolved. If they cannot assist you, they will get you in contact with the person who can. 

You're more likely to get your problem addressed quicker if you remain polite and levelheaded. If anything, at least the experience won't be as negative; you don't want to spend your vacation frustrated. 

Read more: 20 rules of cruise ship etiquette no one ever tells you (but should)

Rush on the elevator


Waiting on an elevator can be frustrating, especially if you are on larger ships. While there are times when an elevator will quickly arrive with minimal people on it, there are others where they'll be especially crowded, such as on embarkation day or when returning from port in the afternoon. 

It's polite to let the doors fully open and any passengers out before hopping on. If you try to get on while they're trying to get off, there will be a lot of unnecessary pushing and shoving. Instead, be patient. 

Moreover, if you're able, you should consider taking the stairs. This will help leave room for guests with mobility issues who rely on the elevators to move from deck to deck. 

Reuse the same plate at the buffet


Reusing your plate at the buffet can lead to cross-contamination and the spread of germs, so it's pretty frowned upon. If you don't like the food you finally settled on (or simply want seconds), leave your dirty dishes at your table when you return to the buffet. 

There are crew members who will be walking around to clear the tables, so you don't have to worry about doing it yourself. Even if you think getting a new plate for a single dessert or small side is wasteful, it's actually considered common courtesy. 

Speaking of the buffet, there are other proper behaviors that you should keep in mind, such as utilizing the handwashing station, refraining from cutting the line, and using the proper utensils for each dish. Doing your part will help make the buffet experience more enjoyable for everyone. 

Read more: 10 things you should never do at a cruise ship buffet

Skip the muster drill

Cruise Muster Drill

Before you're able to sail away, everyone onboard will have to complete the mandatory muster (or safety) drill. While an actual emergency is unlikely, the chance of something happening is never at 0%. The drill's purpose is to familiarize passengers with their assigned assembly station and other important protocols. 

Even if you've cruised before, you'll required to fully complete the drill. Thankfully, many cruise lines have converted to a virtual drill, so you don't have to worry about baking in the sun crammed next to other guests, as you're able to visit your station at your leisure, rather than everyone going at once. 

Of course, not all cruise lines operate that way. MSC, for instance, lets guests watch the safety video in their room; however, all passengers visit their stations at the same time. Similarly, Disney Cruise Line hasn't adopted a virtual process. 

Start altercations with other guests 

women fighting

The safety of all guests and crew is of paramount importance for cruise lines. If you fight with other guests, you could be found in violation of their safety rules and removed from the ship. You don't want a reputation of being a "fighter," either! 

According to Norwegian Cruise Line's guest ticket contract, "If in our reasonable opinion or in the reasonable opinion of the ship's Master, any Guest behaves in such a way as to cause or be likely to cause danger, upset or distress to any third party (such as other guests) or damage to property,...or fails to follow the lawful instructions of the ship's officers and crew at all times, we are entitled, without prior notice, to terminate the holiday of the Guest(s) concerned." 

"In this situation, the Guest(s) concerned will be required to leave the ship or, if applicable other accommodation or service. We will have no further responsibility toward such Guest(s) including any return travel arrangements. No refunds will be made and we will not pay any expenses or costs incurred as a result of the termination."

Read more: Things that can get you instantly kicked off a cruise ship

Be a chair hog


One of the most annoying aspects of cruising is that you'll likely have to deal with chair hogs. These are passengers who will leave their belongings on one or more chairs near the pool to reserve them for later use, rather than using them at that moment. Instead, they'll go do other things, such as return to their cabin for a little extra sleep or grab breakfast. 

Most cruise lines do try and limit this from happening by actively monitoring which chairs are being used. At the end of the day, though, there's only so much that they can do. 

Rather than contributing to the problem and hogging chairs, you should strive to beat them. Get up a little earlier than you usually would and relax by the pool before it warms up. You can also return to the ship earlier on port days to avoid a less crowded lido deck

Smoke in undesignated areas 


Smoking is permitted on cruise ships; however, you can only light up in designated areas. If you're caught smoking outside of them, you could receive a large fine, upwards of $500, on your onboard account. 

Smoking is banned in staterooms on most lines, including private balconies, as well as public venues. If there's a designated smoking area inside, it's often somewhat enclosed— think of the casino or cigar lounge. Outdoor areas are usually found on one side of the ship, such as the port or starboard side. 

Plus, it's just good manners to respect the rules, as the majority of passengers don't want to constantly smell smoke on the pool deck or throughout the ship. 

Read more: How To Get Away With Smoking On A Cruise Ship

Make a lot of noise, especially at night

Disney cruise hallway

When navigating the hallways at night, you'll want to use your inside voice to avoid disturbing those who are already in bed, especially if you're returning later in the evening. 

Personally, I don't enjoy hearing intoxicated adults yelling in the hall when I'm trying to sleep, and I like to extend the same respect to others. 

Avoid playing music, screaming, and running. You'll be in your cabin before you know it. Even then, however, you don't want to be overly loud, especially if you have a connecting cabin, as it's easier than you think to disturb passengers in nearby staterooms. 

Throw things overboard 

cruise ship balcony divider

Regardless of whether you're hanging out on the pool deck or on your private verandah, you should never throw anything off a cruise ship. 

All cruise lines have some pretty strict rules about throwing things into the ocean; they have a commitment to protect the marine environments in which they operate.

Read more: 17 Things You Should Never Do on a Cruise Ship

Let children who aren't fully potty trained into pools

Harmony kids

Cruising with young children is different than sailing with older ones. First, youth programming usually isn't included for the youngest sailors, so if you're looking for some adult-only time, you'll have to pay extra to have the ship's staff take care of your kid(s). 

Moreover, infants who aren't potty trained cannot use the main pools for hygiene reasons. If you want them to have a place to splash around in, make sure that you book a ship with a dedicated area. On Royal Caribbean, for instance, they're called the Baby Splash Zone

If you don't book a ship with a splash zone, they'll be limited to swimming during excursions, as they will not be able to do so onboard. 

Leave a mess for your cabin steward 

Cabin Attendant

You will be assigned a cabin steward for the duration of your cruise. They'll be responsible for freshening your stateroom daily, replacing any towels that you may have used, as well as making the bed, emptying the trash, and delivering important documents. 

To make their job as easy as possible, keep your room as tidy as possible. Instead of leaving clutter all over the vanity, make sure that everything's somewhat organized before you leave.

If you feel as though your cabin steward did a great job attending to your room on your cruise, it would be polite to leave them an extra cash tip on the last evening. I usually leave them around $10 per day of the sailing, so I would leave $70 on a 7-night cruise. 

Spread germs 


Illness can spread very quickly on a ship, so you should keep up with your personal hygiene. For instance, after you use the restroom, wash your hands. You should also wash, or at least sanitize, before going into the buffet, as that's a very high-contact area. When you have to sneeze or cough, do so into your elbow. 

If you feel ill, you should remain in your cabin as much as possible; you don't want to be the reason for getting other passengers sick! Moreover, if you have any troublesome symptoms before embarkation, visit your local physician to see whether you should sail or not. 

If they think it's something contagious, you're better off staying home, where you can get more rest and regain your strength faster! 

Read more: Norwegian cruise ship in Africa being investigated for potential cholera outbreak

Speak during the announcements 

Celebrity Ascent

On a recent cruise onboard Celebrity Ascent, one of the Captains came over the PA system to make an announcement regarding our arrival in San Juan; however, I was unable to hear what was said because those around me didn't quiet down. 

It was kind of important, as he was letting us know that we'd be arriving one hour earlier than scheduled. Thankfully, someone nearby was able to hear, and they filled me in on what I had missed. 

Whenever someone comes over the speaker system, make sure that you pause your conversations. You never know if it'll be an urgent announcement, so it's best to listen up and see what they have to say. 

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