Is a week-long cruise vacation in your near future? Everything from rock climbing to surfing, live performances, tropical beverages, shopping and (of course) lots of dining options can make for a dream come true experience. Follow these tips to get you sailing along in the most mannerly fashion.
Tips for Cruise Ship Etiquette:
- Remember, kids will be kids. If you are on a Disney cruise, expect a kid or two hundred to disrupt your quiet time. Keep your expectations reasonable and don’t come unhinged when you have to quickly jump to the side to avoid a head-on collision with a running fairy princess. Keep in mind that you knowingly booked this lively cruise and wild and rowdy kids are part of the package.
- Dress appropriately for dinner. Shorts are not permitted in the formal dining area, and the same goes for swimwear. Cruise lines generally offer an alternative to the formal dinner where you can wear more casual clothing. Still, choose appropriate dress that doesn’t include a bathing suit. Some cruise lines allow jeans, others don’t so it’s best to check the individual cruise line’s dress policy before packing your suitcase.
- Dress for a cruise, not a car wash. A mannerly traveler is aware of his or her surroundings and selects clothing that doesn’t offend their fellow guests. Before walking out of your cabin, look back and see if you can “see through” your white linen pants.
- If you are feeling ill, take it to your room. Without being too graphic, the side of the ship is not the place to lose your breakfast. If you’ve experienced motion or sea sickness before, contact your doctor for a prescription or purchase an over the counter drug. It is always better to be over prepared.
- Be timely for departure. When the ship docks at different ports, make sure and return in plenty of time. It is your responsibility to keep an eye on the clock and get back to the ship at the designated time. You are not going to be greeted with a smile if you hold the entire ship up while they are waiting for you to jump on board.
- “Adults only” means ONLY adults. Don’t bring your kids to an event meant only for adults wanting some quiet time AWAY from crying babies and screaming children. Make arrangements for a babysitter, visit a kid friendly venue, or stay in and enjoy your children in the comfort of your own room.
- Don’t pack onto the elevators. Just one more guest may be one too many. It’s never fun to be first into an elevator simply to be swarmed by a family of 10, a bickering couple, three “runaway” children, and a singing quartet forcing you to ride to up to your room packed in like sardines. No one appreciates smelling your strong cologne or hearing about how your best friend’s marriage is on its last sea leg.
- Shhh…baby and fellow guests are sleeping. Be considerate of the noise level when parading around the ship and planning late night outings. That also applies to leaving your room quietly in the morning. Be respectful of fellow cruise guests, taking advantage of their time to sleep in a little extra.
- Respect different cultures. You will no doubt be rubbing elbows with people from other countries. Remember that each country may have a different way of greeting, eating and engaging and it’s important to show tolerance and respect for each other’s differences. At the very least, it’s a wonderful way to learn about others.
- If you attend a show, be a good sport. Don’t sit with your arms crossed while the rest of the table is up dancing with the entertainer. Instead, let your hair down and shake it like you own it. Who knows, you might even enjoy yourself!
Tipping policies for cruise ships can be confusing since there are as many different policies as there are cruise lines. While it’s common for many cruise lines to implement a pre-applied standard gratuity rate, it’s also a good idea to inquire with the particular cruise company to verify their particular tipping policy.
In most cases there is a set per-person, per-day gratuity that is charged against the guest’s individual account. Cruise guests can then add more to their standard gratuity charge if they feel the service was exemplary (or less than what was expected). Most of the bar areas automatically factor in a 15% gratuity, added to the bill. It is customary to give a gratuity to dining room waiters, head waiters, assistant, cabin stewards and butlers on the last night of the cruise. Use an envelope that is supplied by the cruise line or bring your own.
The following is a general guideline: (country and cultures vary)
- Cabin Stewards: $5/night
- Room Service: $2 per visit
- Butler: $5/night
- Baggage service: $1/bag
- Bartender:15 to 20% of tab or $ 1 per round and if you have a regular bartender, an envelope at the end of the trip
- Wine Stewards: $5/bottle plus service charge; $10/bottle plus corkage (when the bottle is personally yours)
- Dining Room Waiter: $4-$5 per day
- Bus Boy: $1-$3 per day
- Main/head server: $1/night; when offering more detailed service (menu selections, special dishes) $5/person per service
- Assistant server: $2-$4/night
- Host/hostess: $1/night
- Spa services: 20% of bill
- Activity instructors: $5-$10 per service
Some cruise lines do not allow gratuity for the spa and other services.
For additional cruise etiquette tips visit Royal Caribbean’s article on Etiquette at Sea: Mind your cruise vacation P’s and Q’s.
Have a great trip!