Essential guide to cruise etiquette: How to not be ‘that cruiser’

Essential guide to cruise etiquette: How to not be ‘that cruiser’

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Those planning a cruise holiday this summer are being given top tips on rules of etiquette to follow on the ship. Luxury cruise experts from Panache Cruises have provided an essential guide to cruise etiquette to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for everyone on board.

Modern cruising offers passengers a relaxed environment in which to unwind and be themselves but there are still certain rules of cruise etiquette that holidaymakers should keep in mind to avoid being rude or disrespectful.

Beyond common courtesies

Beyond common courtesies, there are more serious implications for breaking rules governing passenger conduct while on board. Passengers that disobey captain and crew member instructions risk being fined or in worst case scenarios asked to leave the ship.

Although everyone wants to let their hair down on a cruise, people should be mindful that every other passenger also wants to enjoy their holiday, so it’s important to not forget common courtesy. These cruise etiquettes do’s and don’ts are essential for those preparing to embark on their first cruise and are a little anxious about what to expect. They’re also a timely reminder for experienced cruisers planning another cruise holiday this summer.

In general, it’s important to be mindful of noise levels, be punctual when it comes to excursions and bookings, follow deck guidelines, keep to the dress code and show respect towards crew members. In addition, you’re not allowed to reserve sun loungers and leave them unattended for an extended period of time, or share drink packages with others.

Top cruise etiquette tips to keep in mind when embarking on a cruise holiday
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Cruise etiquette is all about creating a harmonious environment for everyone on board and following these valuable tips will help first-time cruisers to navigate the seas with grace and courtesy.

What do the experts say?

James Cole, founder and managing director at Panache Cruises said: “If you don’t want to upset your fellow passengers then it’s best to make sure you’re familiar with cruise etiquette before boarding the ship. Different cruise lines may have slightly different rules and regulations so it is important to read up on this before departure. 

“If you’re not an experienced cruiser then some of these rules may be new to you, but in general you just need to remember to be considerate and patient towards the crew and other passengers. There are things that are just simply unfair like skipping the queue in the buffet and hogging chairs, but there are also rules that can have serious consequences if they are ignored.

“When you booked your cruise you promised to adhere to a set of rules governing your conduct and behaviour when onboard your ship. Disruptive passengers can be charged a fine or forcibly removed from the ship if they disobey the captain’s and crew members’ instructions, smoke in prohibited areas or throw things overboard. Practising good cruise etiquette will help you prevent getting labelled ‘that cruiser’ who everyone is whispering about and trying to avoid in the ship’s public areas.”

Top cruise etiquette tips to keep in mind when embarking on a cruise holiday

Top cruise etiquette tips to keep in mind when embarking on a cruise holiday
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Don’t jump the queue for the buffet

Although you may be hungry and eager to head to the buffet, remember that your fellow passengers are likely feeling the same way, and your wants and needs don’t supersede theirs. Be patient and wait for your turn and if you really can’t wait to tuck into your food then make sure to have a snack in-between meal times.

Quiet down when the crew are making announcements

Take a moment to pause and listen when the captain or crew are making announcements as otherwise you and others around you may miss out on some important information. The announcements are usually made to pass along useful information about disembarking in ports of call, weather, onboard activities, etc.

Arrive to and from excursions on time

Respect the scheduled departure times for shore excursions because if you’re late then you’ll likely be left behind. Make sure to return to the tour bus or ship promptly, as late arrivals can cause unnecessary delays for other passengers and disrupt the itinerary.

Don’t hog the chairs

No one likes a chair hogger, so if you’re not planning on using the sun lounger for a long time after claiming it, then don’t prevent others from accessing it by leaving your belongings on the chair. Many cruise lines have taken measures to stop people hogging the chairs by removing their items if the chair has been left unattended for a certain amount of time.

Top cruise etiquette tips to keep in mind when embarking on a cruise holiday
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Be mindful of noise levels in the hallways and balcony

Avoid being loud when navigating the cabin hallways, especially during the night but also during the day, because your fellow passengers may be trying to relax or put their babies down for a nap. Save conversations and mingling for when you get to your cabin or common areas.

Don’t share your drink package

The add-on drink packages are designed for individual consumption and are priced accordingly. That’s why sharing one package between multiple people is considered a violation of cruise line policies and can result in fines.

Don’t throw anything overboard

Throwing items over the rail is one of the worst cruise etiquette violations and you can get in big trouble for it. Whether it’s a cigarette butt, trash or anything else, if you get caught throwing something overboard then you’ll be faced with a large monetary fine and you can also be forced to disembark the ship at the next port. CCTV cameras are in constant operation so be warned!

Only smoke in designated smoking areas

All cruise lines have designated smoking areas onboard and you should never light your cigarette, cigar or pipe anywhere else, including your stateroom balcony. The same goes for e-cigarettes. If caught, a cleaning fee will be added to your onboard account.

Top cruise etiquette tips to keep in mind when embarking on a cruise holiday
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Mind the dress code

The dress code policy on cruise holidays is much more casual nowadays so you don’t need to bring your best frocks and tuxedos. That being said, it’s still worth being mindful about dressing appropriately for the occasion. For example, you can get away with wearing bathing suits, shorts and flip-flops to a poolside buffet, however, that wouldn’t be acceptable at speciality dining venues. Each cruise line will have different expectations so do your research beforehand.

Be polite towards the crew

Treat the crew with respect as they’re the ones who are working tirelessly to make your holiday perfect every day. Make sure to give them a smile and greet them when you pass them in the hallway and if an issue should arise then stay calm and respectful when making a complaint.

Get a new plate when returning to the buffet

Don’t worry about dishes at the buffet and get a new plate, glass or mug every time you wish to top up on your food or drinks. You may think you’re doing them a favour by reducing the number of dirty dishes but it’s actually frowned upon due to sanitary purposes.

Drink responsibly

It can be difficult to limit your alcohol consumption if you have an alcoholic beverage package included in your fare. However, just because you can have all the drinks you want doesn’t mean that you should drink more than your body can handle. Don’t be a drunken and disruptive passenger, as this can ruin the cruise experience for others. It’s best to avoid spending your days recovering from a hangover and instead enjoy everything else the cruise has to offer.

Top cruise etiquette tips to keep in mind when embarking on a cruise holiday
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Panache Cruises is the leading UK provider of ultra-luxury cruises and partners only with the World’s most luxurious cruise lines such as Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea, Oceania Cruises, Explora Journeys, Emerald and Scenic. With full ATOL financial protection, Panache Cruises’ customers also benefit from the company’s Customer Trust Fund which provides total peace of mind. Find out more about luxury cruising at

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