12 Bad Behavior Mistakes to Avoid on Cruise Ships


Maybe you cruise a lot. Some people seem to almost live at sea. Others are celebrating a major wedding anniversary or taking their maiden voyage. A ship carrying 2,500+ passengers weekly sees all kinds of people, behaving in all kinds of ways. Here are twelve examples of what constitutes bad behavior.

Twelve Things You Shouldn’t be Doing

  1. Smuggling. Of course you wouldn’t do that! We’re not talking serious contraband, but things some people think won’t get noticed. You buy a Rolex in the Caribbean, wearing it off the ship. You know you can bring caviar or foie gras back home, but the US Customs form specifically asks if you have meat, fruit, fish or vegetables. You need to declare it.

Why: Following the rules takes a little extra time and might cost something. Getting caught not following the rules is much more serious.

  1. Insisting on changing cabins. You didn’t pay for a larger cabin. Now you want one. Your rationale is your cabin is too noisy/hot/cold/dark/bright. You line up at the Purser’s Office, ignoring the several “We are sailing full” signs.

Why: They can fix problems like climate control or burnt out bulbs. They won’t upgrade you just because you can argue.

  1. Sneaking booze onboard. This includes other things that are against the rules. They might allow a couple of bottles of special occasion wine, but not cases of beer or quarts of vodka. They will likely take them from you, returning them at the end of the voyage.

Why: They can monitor drinking and behavior in public lounges. Bad behavior in cabins can become tragic in a ten story floating building with railed balconies.

  1. Returning late to the ship in port. You are having a great time somewhere. The ship sails at 5:00 PM. Everyone is expected onboard at 4:00 PM. By returning late, you are inconveniencing 2,500 other passengers, or worse.

Why: The ship is on a schedule. The berth is needed for another arriving ship. You can catch the ship at the next port, but that will be expensive.

  1. Free range parenting. Many ships understand parents want some alone time on vacation. They often have programs for infants, young children and teens. Don’t let your children roam free, playing cards in the elevators.

Why: It’s an inconvenience to the other passengers. They could get injured or lost.

  1. Entering restricted areas. Consider that ships have two sides, inside and outside. The inside is another world for the 1,000+ people who live and work aboard. They often have their own gym, dining facilities and bar. Passengers are forbidden access under any circumstances.

Why: This is also where the machinery and electrical systems are housed. It’s dangerous. You are also violating the privacy of the staff and crew living aboard.

  1. Underdressing. Different cruise lines have different personalities. Your travel agent should explain this before booking. If they have formal nights and everyone is dressed in tuxedos or dark suits, showing up in a tee shirt is disrespectful.

Why: You may think it’s your right, but that other couple at the table celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary just had the magic of their moment ruined.

  1. Bragging. You meet your tablemates for the first time. You explain you are so rich and important. You live in a fabulous house.   Your children are so successful.

Why: The ship has Internet access! Once they know your name and town, they can look up your online profile. They can even get an aerial view of your home!

  1. Complaining. We’ve been on so many cruises. This line isn’t what it used to be. The towels are softer on cruise line A. The food is better on cruise line B…

Why: Who cares? Also, no one wants to listen to a complainer.

  1. Pushing in line. You’ve seen people do it when it’s time to go ashore at a port stop. They approach from the side and try to blend in. It implies “We are too important to wait in line like other people.”

Why: It slows things down. You know how you feel exiting the highway when a car cuts in front of you.

  1. Ordering off the menu. You are assigned to a table in one of the large dining rooms. You don’t like the multiple offerings. You don’t want to pay to dine in a specialty restaurant. You make a fuss, asking for a special order.

Why: The meal service runs like a Swiss watch. They repeat these same dishes every few weeks. It’s choreographed. Assuming they can even handle a special request, it slows down the serving process for your table.

  1. Not tipping. Many ships include tipping as a charge on your stateroom account. This eliminates the white envelope system and the questions, “Who should I tip?” and “How much?” Perhaps you can go to the Purser’s Office and have this charge removed. Your rationale is “I’ll never see these people again.” Don’t do it.

Why: The crew and staff work very long shifts. They are contract workers. They likely don’t get weekends off. This is part of their compensation. Looking after you, they earned it.

Obviously you would never do any of these things. Other people do. It’s bad behavior.

Story courtesy of Bryce Sanders. 

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