Cruise Etiquette to Make Any First Timer Look Like a Pro

Congratulations, you booked your first cruise! Cruise memories last a lifetime and there’s no bonding quite like that done on a big new adventure.

Time to enjoy the excitement of each step — even the planning. We know, we know…for many, the planning stage can be stressful, especially if you’ve never gone on a cruise before.

As the details pop up, so do questions. Do you bring cash to tip, or stick to card? What should you pack to wear for dinner? Should you bring earplugs, or will it be quiet at night?

Luckily for you, you’re resourceful and came to the right place to ease your mind. We’ve created a 101 guide on cruise etiquette so you’ll look like a pro your first try.

Dining Etiquette for Cruises

One of the biggest perks of cruises are the new meals you get to try in unique fine-dining settings. In order to add some “oomph” to the fun, it’s important to feel confident in your preparation for the occasion.

Plan Your Seat

If you chose assigned seating, check your cruise documents or room card for where your seat is located. When you get a chance, ask the maitre’d to help you take a peek at where it is in order to save yourself the time scrambling around a crowded room.

It’s Okay to Order a Variety

Cruise entrees can be very small, while the variety of food can be very large. Don’t be afraid to ask to try multiple different foods and maximize your experience.

Use Buffet Courtesy

Buffets are used by many people at one time, which makes it important to be mindful of cleanliness, timeliness, and basic respect:

  • Avoid moving tongs from one dish to another in case others have food allergies and can’t have certain foods touching.
  • Follow the direction of the line, don’t move backwards even if you missed a food.
  • Stay sanitary by using a new plate each time and making sure to wash your hands before each round at the buffet.
  • Guide children under 10 to teach them the same courtesies.

Tip Accordingly

Like most servers in the US, many servers on cruise depends on tips to create a reliable income. It’s courtesy to tip them accordingly.

Many cruise lines recommend budgeting $10 or $12 a day for tips.

Some cruises automatically add gratuity to a passenger’s onboard account which is then settled at the end of the cruise. From there, tips are typically split between your dining room waiters, cabin waiters, and waiter assistants.

If you’d prefer to do cash, however, that’s an option too! Typically the standard for that is to hand out cash tips to people who have provided services on the last day of the cruise.

What to Wear on a Cruise

Between a pool, dining, dances and more, it can be hard to determine what’s appropriate to wear on a cruise. A few staple rules are:

Plan Ahead

First and foremost, check your cruise information for a dress code. You’ll want to double check your schedule for events you plan to attend, and what wardrobe changes may be required.

For example, no shorts, swimwear, flip flops etc. are allowed in formal dining areas. Be sure to give yourself adequate time to freshen up and change before heading to the ballrooms or main dining rooms.

Dress Like You’re “Going Out”

Part of the fun of a cruise is being able to look sharp during your excursion.

While running around in sweats can be tempting after a long night out, get dressed in an outfit that has you feeling prepared to see new faces and places. You’ll thank yourself later.

Living With Others on a Cruise Ship

By hopping on a cruise, you’re committing to quite a few “roommates” for a while. Practicing cruise courtesy will help you fully enjoy the new experience and perspectives.

Respect Other Cultures

During a cruise or any type of travel, you’ll be interacting with people from various cultures. Keep in mind that people will greet, eat and interact in a variety of ways. Keep an open mind and give yourself a chance to learn new things.

Keep Noise to a Minimum

Be courteous to the varying sleep schedules and rest needs of other passengers by being mindful of your noise levels.

A good basis to use is to be a bit less noisy than you are at home…lower TV and music volumes, trying not to work out above rooms at odd hours, and other basic courtesy can go a long way.

Be a Good Roommate

If you’re sharing a cabin with a family member or friend, you’ll enjoy a tight bond by both respecting some room rules. Keep the cabin tidy, and be sure to share the limited outlets.

It might feel silly at first, but going over some cabin rules before your trip will prove to be very helpful on your journey.

Just like that, you’re off on your first cruise knowing the ins and outs of cruise courtesy! Other passengers will be shocked to hear it’s your first time, and you’ll enjoy an even more relaxing time knowing what comes next and what you’ll need.

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