Miss Manners Guide to Cruising, the Dos and Don’ts!

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We all have personal pet-peeves when it comes to most everything in life whether it’s squeezing the toothpaste from the end or in the middle or driving behind someone who evidently plans to turn left for the duration of their commute. What about on cruise ships? Are there things we can do to make sure we are not “that passenger” everyone else is talking about?

As a child I was taught that when we were staying in a hotel that every single door I saw in the hallway was a bedroom door, so be quiet! The same is true on a cruise ship. Some passengers may be feeling the effects of sea-sickness and perhaps have been awake all night not feeling well, so they may be trying to get a nap in during the day. Whether it’s day or night then, when you are walking down these long hallways either keep your voice low or wait to have your discussion when you get to the elevators!

Who doesn’t love a buffet? Cruise lines have been famous for their lavish buffet food options. You know what really makes that experience turn from amazing to disgusting in seconds? Watching someone walk along the buffet eating while they gather more food choices! Having experienced a global pandemic as we all now have this should be even more obviously a total No-No both for adults and children. So put the items you want on your plate, or on your child’s plate, and then wait until you are seated at a table to begin eating your food.

Many areas onboard ships are close quarters since space is a premium. The last thing I want to endure while I’m trying to enjoy a quiet dinner with my wife or even just wake up while having breakfast is listening to someone else’s conversation or kids squealing on their speaker phone or FaceTime or whatever. I get that you want to keep in touch, that’s totally fine, just do so in the privacy of your own cabin where you won’t be sharing the experience with everyone around you.

Do you like waiting? I don’t. We’ve talked about one of the things you will hate about cruises is waiting in lines for everything. One thing that makes that even worse is having to wait for someone who has been standing in the line and when they get to the disembarkation point they don’t have their key card out and ready to be scanned. I have seen this happen after 14+ days aboard, so not the first time they have been through this process. Also for shore excursions having to wait for those who forgot to bring their ticket and/or key card after having been told 1000+ times these 2 items are absolutely needed. I was on a shore excursion once where despite both the cruise staff and the tour guide requesting everyone’s tickets numerous times we were delayed 45 minutes because one guest failed to comprehend that meant he needed her ticket too.

On the first cruise I ever took my neighbor smoked on their balcony every single day. I was prevented from using my balcony or even having the door open for much of my cruise due to the powerfully offensive odor coming from next door. I did not know at the time that I merely needed to inform my butler and the matter would have been resolved immediately. This is very clearly prohibited and if you are caught smoking either in your cabin or on your balcony you may have to pay a substantial fine. Something I am now seeing more frequently is vaping on balconies. This is also considered smoking and should be done only in the areas designated on the ship for smoking.

I am not a tuxedo dress for dinner sort of person, which is why I first began cruising with NCL because of the freestyle and more relaxed dress code policies onboard. That being said, the main dining room as well as the specialty restaurants do have dress codes especially for dinner. While it may be fine to go to the buffet for breakfast or lunch in your bathing suit, cover and flip flops this would be entirely inappropriate for dinner. So guys, put on a collared shirt and closed toe shoes and ladies, how about a sundress or a skirt and nice sandals and then enjoy your evening!

I have no idea how early some get up in the morning to go out and reserve their perfect chair, and more power to you if it’s that important to you! My one objection is those who go out and reserve multiple chairs and then keep them tied up all day but not using them! This leaves other guests with fewer options and places the crew in the uncomfortable position of having to ascertain if the chairs should be made available for other guests. I have seen fights break out over chairs, and this is so unnecessary.

Cruises are great vacation options for families since often times a cabin can be booked for parents and the kids are “free” since the cabin is booked based on double occupancy. There are many activities available onboard for kids and even daycare options so parents can have some relaxation time as well. That being said, there are also areas and facilities clearly marked “adults only” like hot tubs and some sundecks. Seeing a toddler in a “swim-diaper” in a hot-tub whether it’s adults only or not is just plain gross. These types of diapers are NOT leakproof, so any germs or bacteria the infant or toddler may be passing along are going to end up in the water. That may be OK in the ocean, but definitely not in the limited capacity of a hot-tub.

It’s also good to keep in mind that everyone onboard is on vacation, and should be able to enjoy that vacation without having your child running wild through the buffet, hallways, around the pool or anywhere else. If you brought your kids onboard they are your responsibility, so either ensure they are properly supervised by someone else or do that yourself. Do not expect the rest of the guests onboard to deal with your children for you.

I may be old-fashioned when it comes to this next topic, but it bears mentioning. The use of foul language has become far too common nowadays and I for one find it highly offensive. As I have already mentioned, there are almost always families onboard with children, so using this type of language in front of children is just plain shameful. Follow the basic rules of etiquette when in public areas and watch your mouth!

After having spent the day relaxing in the sun, it’s always nice to go back to my cabin to get showered and dressed for dinner. We all like to smell nice, right? You may have your favorite perfume or cologne you brought with you and that’s great, for you. Fragrance allergies are more and more common these days, however, and if you use half the bottle the result may be that everyone around you or in your wake is choking on your fumes.

Booking reservations early for specialty restaurants is really important as these often book up early and then you may be left with dinner options of 9pm or later! The crew are wonderful at trying to accommodate everyone’s preferred dining times, but they are greatly hampered in these efforts if you book a reservation and fail to cancel it if you can’t make it. Things happen, that is understandable, but if you know you won’t be able to use the reservation then take the simple step of informing the crew so someone else can get a table that would otherwise sit empty.

These simple points can go a very long way to help everyone onboard enjoy their cruise vacation to the full. Did I miss anything that particularly annoys you while onboard? Let us know! – René

Frequent Floaters has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. FrequentFloaters and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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René de Lambert
René de Lamberthttp://www.FrequentFloaters.com
René de Lambert has been a travel blogger for over 10 years covering the travel industry - including cruising.


  1. My biggest pet peeve on cruises is when people do not come back to the bus at the appointed time while on excursions. It’s incredibly rude and deprives everyone of more time doing what they came to do rather than waiting on a bus for that one couple that decided their time was more important than everyone else’s. It’s also incredibly stressful for the guides who are there to not only guide but to make sure you make it back safely to the ship by the appointed time.

  2. Your pointers are right on..The cruise lines should take the above and laminate and put in all cabins and prior to the cruise..send via email to all guests..


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