5 Ways to Have the Best Cruise Etiquette

With the summer air coming in hot, it’s hard to resist fantasizing about your very first cruise. Days spent taking in the fresh ocean air, swimming in the pool and exploring new places, and nights spent dancing, dining, and making new friends.

But just as your excitement starts to peak, so do your questions:

  • What should you pack?
  • Are there nightly quiet hours?
  • Have they charged you for dining services yet, or do you pay on board?
  • When are you supposed to tip?

The details can be overwhelming, but don’t get caught up in your nervousness for long — we’re here to help!

Below we’ve outlined 5 rules for first-time cruisers, from appropriate clothes to pack to general etiquette. You’ll feel like a cruise pro before you even board the ship!

1. Plan Your Wardrobe Accordingly

It’s hard to tell how fancy you should dress for evening events on a cruise ship — especially when the ship itself looks like a palace!

Before packing, check out the recommended attire for your specific cruise line.

Dress codes have gotten a bit more relaxed over the years, so oftentimes you can bring the cocktail dress and leave behind the ball gown.

A few cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean, recommend bringing formal attire. Typically, a cocktail dress or tie and jacket will suffice. Just leave the shorts and jeans behind if you plan on being in the dining hall during dinner hours.

The dining and events staff members are also a great reference point to get an idea of the attire you should sport. If they look to be decked out in formal attire, you should plan on donning yours as well.

When it comes to daytime attire, you can aim for the type of vacationing clothes you’re comfortable with, as long as it’s not sloppy. Skip the bathrobe unless you’re going to the spa, and leave those PJs waiting for you back in your room. Any ripped or overly-distressed clothes you’d be better off skipping entirely.

2. Know What to Leave at Home

Cabins on a cruise ship usually have limited space. The last thing you want is to spend your cruise worrying about safe places to store the things you didn’t even need to bring in the first place.

Instead of bringing a fancy outfit for every evening, bring 1-2 outfits with a few different accessories to help you switch up your look.

You can also skip electronic beauty supplies like blow dryers and straightening irons, as they can pose a fire risk. Any open flames like candles, incense etc. are also a fire hazard, and many ships don’t allow them at all.

Many cruise lines also don’t allow outside alcohol, so it’s best to avoid the temptation to bring a bottle from home.

Lastly, you might want to consider leaving behind your fancy heirlooms behind. While many cruises have safes, it can make for one less worry on your plate!

3. Bring Tip Money

Your cruise staff works hard so you can enjoy yourself, and tips are a great way to show your appreciation.

For a long time, ship staff would mostly receive cash tips. An envelope of cash was given by the passenger to the steward on the last night of the trip.

Now, tipping methods have changed a bit. Due to staff changes during cruises, and the fact that certain countries that aren’t accustomed to tipping, tip courtesy and methods of payment can vary depending on the cruise.

Some require you to pay an added service charge ahead of time. On others, services like cleaning, room service, and dining service should be given a 15%-20% tip, even if your trip is all-inclusive.

Before your trip, talk to your travel agent about your cruise’s specific tipping policy, and be sure to bring enough cash to tip if there isn’t an option to pay service fees ahead of time.

4. Be Prompt

It can be easy to lose track of time when you’re in vacation mode. That’s one of the joys of relaxing, after all!

But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a clock around. Being late to dinner or excursions on a cruise ship can affect the staff as well as other passengers.

Often, you’ll have assigned table mates during dinners. If you’re late to order your food, these passengers have to wait for you. Table mates have the potential of becoming new friends, so don’t ruin your chances by making them wait to eat.

Being late for an excursion can delay an already time-limited adventure other passengers have been waiting for anxiously. And returning late from an excursion can land you in quite a mess. There’s a chance the ship will leave without you in order to stay on schedule, meaning you’ll have to find a flight or other method of catching it at the next port!

5. Use the Halls and Cabins as Quiet Spaces

When you purchase tickets for a cruise, you’re signing up to have a whole lot of roommates for the duration of your vacation. Along with this agreement, it’s expected that you will respect that people need rest at different times.

While you may be looking forward to sleeping in, others are resting up for an early morning excursion.

The walls of cruise cabins can be thin, so keep the partying to designated social areas. Use headphones whenever possible, and enjoy some peace and quiet for yourself and others.

From being polite during after-hours to being prompt for all your appointments, cruise etiquette is comparable to on-shore etiquette. You might be more prepared than you think!

With a little extra research or help from a travel agent, you’re bound to catch on to cruise etiquette quickly and enjoy a stress-free vacation. You might even be able to give your cruise mates a few pointers yourself!

The next step is actually booking your first cruise. Going through a cruise agent (rather than going it alone) can help you with more than picking the best cruise for you and making sure you’ve got all the most important details figured out. They can also save you a boat-load of money.

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