Gone are the days of the stiff, breathe-in-and-look-posh, formal cruises where nothing less than white tie would do for dinner and having children running amok would be considered very poor form indeed.
The face of cruising has changed, with cruises for the family market as well as for the ‘young, fun’ market replacing the floating high society balls of yesteryear.
As with all things though, there are certain rules and expectations that go with a cruise holiday.
Unless you want to be the passenger that everyone is whispering about at dinner or in the pool, pay attention to these ten simple cruise rules…
1 – Don’t Be Late
If you’re one of life’s white rabbits try your very best to be a punctual Polly instead, at least for the duration of your cruise. People are impatient when it comes to starting, and continuing, their holidays, so show up on time to embark and stick to the schedule for port days.
If you’ve ever been the target of 500 death-stares when boarding a plane late you’ll know that holding people up on holiday is a quick route to unpopularity. Multiply those accusing eyes by 100 on the larger cruise ships and it’s easy to see why you should always keep an eye on the time!
2 – Forget the Booze Cruise
Bringing spirits aboard is a big no-no for most cruise lines – and don’t think you’ll get away with it by rolling your bottles up in your beach towels. Most lines do allow you to bring a small amount of wine aboard for consumption in the dining room or cabin but be prepared to have to pay corkage if you want to BYOB.
While we’re on a boozy note, remember that, while everyone likes to let their hair down on holiday, good behaviour is expected. Be especially mindful if you’re on a family friendly cruise. If you can get a little lairy and sweary after a few too many Babychams, make sure you do it in the over-18’s only areas.
You might find that your budget stops you from going overboard anyway – a good reason to avoid the drinks packages that could see you drinking over your usual limits and streaking from port to starboard.
3 – No Waterbabies Allowed
Here’s a rule that catches many doting parents out – babies and toddlers who aren’t potty trained cannot usually go in the ship’s swimming pools, for obvious reasons. And if they do and they cause a mess your fellow passengers will never forgive you! Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean (Freedom and Oasis Class) are two lines that have specific baby splash areas, so look at these if you’re cruising with a waterbaby.
4 – No Hogging
We’ve all seen it – the use of towels to reserve sun loungers around hotel pools. Maybe we’ve even given in to a ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ attitude and done the 8am towel drop ourselves.
Thankfully, a cruise ship is somewhere that this blood-boiling practise won’t be tolerated. P&O state that any pool chairs left unattended for more than 30 minutes will be freed up – so you’d better make that lunchtime dash to the dining room a very quick one!
5 – A Very Short Dinner
Speaking of dining, dinner dress codes are a huge deal on cruise ships, with some passengers wanting them enforced and others determined that no-one will tell them what they can and can’t wear on holiday.
Where the two camps mix, you have a recipe for dinnertime dress code disaster. The fact is that there are options on all cruise liners, so if you don’t want to have to dress for dinner, just don’t book a table at the Captain’s formal dinner-dance. There are always going to be more casual options for those who appreciate comfort at mealtimes. Try your luck in the formal dining room in shorts however, and it’ll be the shortest, and probably most embarrassing, dinner you’ve ever had.
You can learn more about what to wear on a cruise here.
6 – Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire
Smoking is a cruise ship sore spot, with two very clear camps – those who do and those who detest those who do with a passion! Most cruise lines are loathe to ban smoking altogether as it would alienate a potentially large slice of their market, but smoking will still be heavily restricted.
If you are a smoker, check in advance where the designated smoking areas are on your ship – and stick to them. Some ships allow smoking on balconies, but that may not be the best idea if you don’t want to upset every single non-smoker in the cabins downwind of yours.
You can find out what your chosen cruise lines policy on smoking is here.
7 – Cover Up
Hopefully you will feel at home on your cruise of choice but that’s no reason to actually act like you are at home, with the curtains shut and no-one but the cat to see you.
Wandering between cabins in dressing gowns, going for lunch topless (men) or in bikinis (women), or wearing dental-floss swimwear should be avoided. You should consider your fellow cruiser!
If you wouldn’t wear it in front of your own children, or your Mum and Dad, leave it at home. Similarly, topless bathing is also a no-no, so you’ll just have to put up with the dreaded tan lines.
8 – No Slamming
Keep in mind that there are dozens of cabins within earshot of yours when it comes to loud noises like a door slamming. If you’re coming back to your cabin after the late night entertainment or disco, remember that many of your fellow cruisers will have been tucked up with a cocoa for hours. Be a little cautious when coming in and out of your cabin and try not to blast your TV too loud if you don’t want neighbours knocking on your door!
9 – Choose Your Cruise Wisely
As with all holidays, there’s a cruise for everyone and there are some big differences between cruise lines and the different class of ships in their fleet.
If you’re looking for a cruise where you won’t feel like little ones are being frowned at for running around, go for a family friendly line. If you want to enjoy a more casual, laidback type of cruising, try NCL Freestyle or Carnival.
On the other hand, if you actually want to experience a formal cruise where you can enjoy silver service dinners and dance with the captain at the formal ball, one of the luxury lines like Silversea will give you plenty of opportunities to get wear out of that tux or gown and indulge your Titanic fantasy (before, you know, the iceberg).
They say that rules are meant to be broken, but ignoring cruise etiquette could make you very unpopular very quickly. And no-one wants to spend their holiday on the receiving end of tuts and complaints. Avoid those death stares – follow these 10 cruise rules and your holiday will be smooth sailing.
Do you agree with our top tips on cruise ship etiquette? Do you have any tips to add to the list? Have you ever encountered guests who don’t follow these rules? Let us know in the comments below…