CruisePlus Guide to Etiquette at Sea – Home
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25 Jul

CruisePlus Guide to Etiquette at Sea

It’s finally time to unwind aboard your favourite ship and sail off to one of the many exotic locations on your bucket list. You’ve waited so patiently for this opportunity to recharge your batteries and really enjoy yourself for a few days or more. A first-time cruiser might not know that there are a few subtle niceties that will improve not only your own trip but other travellers as well. While the vast majority of cruisers are very considerate, it is possible to run into a rotten apple spoiling everyone else’s good time. We’re going to cover some of the ways you can avoid the embarrassment of making a common cruising error.

Dress Appropriately

For fun in the sun or an elegant evening, your choice of attire can make or break your day. Dress-codes vary between cruise lines and it’s important to know them. Most lines allow you to come as you are but some may require you to dress a bit sharper for formal nights in the dining areas. You certainly don’t want to be confined to your room ordering room service because you didn’t bring your formal attire and are not allowed to dine with fellow guests. If you’re new or unsure about cruising with a particular line, ask your travel agent about possible dress codes or formal nights. Also, something to keep in mind, depending on where you’ll be travelling, certain cultures may require a decorum of dress in order to abide by their customs and traditions. Bonus Tip: leave any military-style camouflage attire at home, a handful of countries have laws against wearing it.  Always ask your CruisePlus Travel Consultant about destination guidelines for dress and behaviour.

Wash Your Hands

With all of the health and safety precautions taken by cruise lines, you’d really have to go out of your way to avoid basic sanitary hand washing. Nevertheless, take health and safety precautions whenever possible. Doing so is in the best interest of everyone on board. Avoid getting yourself or others ill by using available hand sanitizers and washing regularly. If you do feel ill, do your fellow passengers a favour and spend that time in your cabin.

Chairs are for Everyone

Unfortunately, this is an all too common sight among many ships, a passenger has placed their towel or another item on a pool chair in an attempt to reserve it and then whisked away to the buffet for a bite to eat before intending to lounge poolside…  Do not attempt to reserve chairs this way. This is against the rules on most ships and is often not tolerated by the staff who will move you’re towel and items out of another passenger’s way. It’s best practice to let an attendant know if you’re just getting up from your chair for a short time to go to the bathroom or retrieve something. This will guarantee you will keep your seat.

Noisy Neighbors

A lot of people choose a cruise vacation for peace and relaxation. Some night owls may not realize this when celebrating late into the evening unaware the cabin under them may be trying to sleep. This could easily happen with morning risers as well… The early birds who get up for a morning run might just be jogging over a sleeping cruisers room. It’s best to keep the noise to the designated areas like the bar or pools as much as possible. As tempting as a party on your balcony may be, that sound will almost certainly be travelling to the rooms all around you. Slamming the heavy cabin doors is another common noise problem. Some lines have actually started to address this issue by placing instructions in the rooms showing cruisers how to shut the door gently. Contributing to keeping noise levels down will always be appreciated by other guests and staff.


Many people still enjoy a cigarette so cruise lines ask that when doing so, be conscious and considerate when choosing where you light up. There are designated smoking areas and lounges dedicated for those who enjoy a cigarette or cigar. Many ships have cognac and cigar bars for a higher-class experience.  It’s extremely important to stick to these designated locations due to health and safety concerns from fire or air pollution. The potential for fire is a concern cruise lines do not take lightly.  Never throw a cigarette butt off the side of a ship as it could very easily fly back on another deck and cause a fire and if you’re tempted to smoke on your balcony, you definitely want to check with ship staff as quite a few cruise lines forbid smoking in staterooms and balconies.

Fitness and Spa Facilities

Onboard spa and fitness facilities have the same common rules as they do on land. Abiding by common courtesy will go a long way toward everyone having the best experience

  • Wipe down your equipment when you’re done with it.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and share the machines.
  • Just like the pool chairs, please don’t attempt to reserve machines by putting a towel on it.
  • Spas are naturally a relaxing environment, be conscious of this when passing and keep the noise to a minimum

Patience is a Virtue

It’s entirely possible that you may end up waiting in a line or two on and off the ship. Patience is key, especially when waiting in line for the buffet. It’s in poor taste to cut in line or crowd other passengers. Perhaps most importantly, refrain from complaining about the wait. Everyone, from the staff to the other passengers are trying their best to be efficient and timely.

The Crew

Lastly, and likely the most important tip we can give is to be kind to the crew of the ship. They serve your food, keep you entertained and clean your cabins. They also work tirelessly providing you with the best possible experience on your holiday. If you treat them as you would a close friend or family you might just find some added extras coming your way, even if it is just a friendly joke or a smile.

Patience, kindness and a little extra care for others will take you a long way not only on a vacation but in life. Although some of these topics seem like common sense it never hurts to refresh and continue being courteous and conscientious in everything we do. You’re more likely to enjoy your trip if those around you enjoy it too. Now you know how to avoid the biggest and most common cruising faux pas’.

Next time you’re booking a vacation with CruisePlus, ask your travel agent about tips and tricks to get the most out of your vacation experience. Ready for your next adventure? Call today! 1-800-854-9664


Specializing in luxury cruises, all-inclusive and total immersive land journeys, as well as hosted adventures, our CruisePlus team of expert Travel Consultants, will help you to realize all of your vacationing dreams! Our non-commissioned staff and no pressure approach is what makes us unique in the travel industry and is what sets us apart from the competition. Once you become a member of the CruisePlus travel family, we guarantee we’ll be partners in travel for life!