Do You Observe Cruise Etiquette?

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By ,   May 8, 2015 ,   Tips & Tricks

Are you planning a cruise vacation in near future? Our cruise etiquette tips will be of great help to you. Everything onboard - from exotic beverages and a variety of dining options to live performances, shopping and rock climbing will bring the relaxation you've been dreaming for a long time. By following the cruise etiquette rules listed below, you'll be able to sail along in a most mannerly fashion.

Cruise etiquette RULES

  • Lifeboat drill: It is mandatory requirement of Coast Guard for all cruise ships. Shortly before ship sails, passengers must gather for a review of all emergency procedures. Carry or wear from cabin your life jacket to the muster station. When everyone's participation is voluntarily, drill is short - cruise can commence. After the drill, don't forget to allow elderly and disabled passengers to access elevators. If you can walk, take the stairs.
  • Don’t pack on the elevators: It has never been fun to be first in an elevator, crowded by a family of 10 with five screaming kids, packed in the elevator like sardines. No one appreciates strong smelling or hearing long stories about how your cousin divorced for the third time. So, better avoid taking the elevator when possible - climbing the stairs is the best you can do for health before dinner.
  • Going ashore: The ship has to anchor in open water at some ports and travelers are shuttled ashore on small boats (tenders). The once who have booked early morning excursions have priority tender boarding; elite past guests are next. Everyone else takes a number. Tender tickets are handled differently, but the process is explained clearly. Pay attention to the instructions and wait patiently until the time designated.

  • On time for departure: The ship docks at a variety of ports, so make sure to return in plenty of time. You are responsible for keeping an eye on clock and getting back at the designated time. No one will greet you with a smile when the entire ship is hold up because of you.
  • Respect other cultures: No doubt that onboard you'll be rubbing elbows with passengers from other countries. Don't forget that each country has a different way of eating, engaging, or greeting, and you have to show respect and tolerance for each other differences. It’s wonderful to widen your horizons and learn about others.
  • Adults only: These venues are really only for adults, so don’t bring your children to such an event if you need some quiet time far away from crying babies. Arrange a babysitter, stay in with your kids in the comfort of the stateroom, or visit some kid friendly venue. Remember that kids will be kids and if you're on a Disney cruise, can't expect two hundred kids to not disrupt quietness. Keep reasonable expectations and remember that you booked this family cruise knowingly and wild kids are part of your package ;-) .
  • Deck chairs: Some passengers pile books, flip flops, sunglasses, or other items when trying to “reserve” deck chairs, which is prohibited officially by major cruise lines. It is acceptable to stack things in a deck chair if you plan to come back right after running to the buffet or dipping in the pool, but the chairs do not belong to you. Take all your things with you when you'll be gone for more than 30 minutes, and later select a new chair.
  • Late night courtesy: Cruise parties run until wee hours on most ships, but some guests have to get up early for pre-paid shore excursions. Generally, noise is allowed, and even encouraged on some ships, but after you return to cabin, try to be quiet. Cabin walls are quite thin, and noise transfers easily between staterooms. In the morning, leave your room quietly and respect fellow cruisers.
  • Dress code: Few cruise lines impose strict codes for dressing up, but some basic guidelines are well provided. Virtually anything goes during the day. Make sure to be dried off when you enter the indoor areas from pool, put on a shirt and shoes. Swimsuit dining is only permitted at poolside bars and fast-food stands. Each evening, most lines provide newsletter in guests' cabins. Check it to find out the following evening dress code. On a typical 7-nights cruise, the first and the last nights are casual, formal are just two in the middle, and the remaining are informal. Dress for dinner appropriately. Swimwear and shorts are not permitted in formal dining areas. Lines usually offer alternatives to formal dinner and you can wear casual clothing. Some also allow jeans, however others don’t - better check the individual dress policy of your line before you pack. Dress for a vacation cruise, not for washing your car. Mannerly travelers are aware of their surroundings and always selects clothing which don’t offend fellow guests.
  • Gratuity: Cruise ships tipping policies can be quite confusing since they are much different. While for many cruise lines it’s common to implement standard gratuity rates, it’s a good idea to inquire with company to verify the particular tipping policy. In most cases you may expect to find that there is set per-day, per-person gratuity charged against passenger's individual account. Guests can add more to the standard gratuity if they feel that service was exemplary. Most of bar areas automatically charge 15% gratuity, which is added to your bill. It's customary to give gratuity to head waiters, dining room waiters, assistants, butlers and cabin stewards on the last night of cruise. Use an envelope supplied by the line or your own. General guideline for cruise etiquette tipping: (cultures and country vary):
staff position general tip
Wine Stewards $5 per bottle plus service charge; $10 per bottle plus corkage (if the bottle is personal).
Bartender 15-20% of tab ($ 1 per round); If you have a regular one, an envelope at trip's end.
Main/head server $1 per night; $5 per person per service when offering detailed service (special dishes, menu selections).
Assistant server $2-$4 per night
Butler, Cabin Stewards $5 per night
Room Service $2 per visit
Baggage service $1 per bag
Bus Boy $1-$3 per day
Dining Room Waiter $4-$5 per day
Host/hostess $1 per night
Activity instructors $5-$10 per service
Spa services 20% of bill

Cruise etiquette rules concerning ship buffet

What's the thing about cruise buffets that makes us ditch politeness and revert to the mentality of "I-need-it-now"? What would have happened if you had waited for a few extra minutes, or would you have starved? No matter if you're serving yourself or served at a table, follow the cruise etiquette rules. There's food enough food for a country on every contemporary cruise ship and getting food is not a problem. Just be patient.

And here they come - the 10 Commandments of Buffet Cruise Etiquette:

  1. Wash your hands: Always wash hands before you get in buffet line. Even if you do not touch food directly, you will have to handle the serving utensils. Imagine how you would feel if the person in front is touching everything with his dirty hands, so do not be that guy to the guest behind you.
  2. Don't switch direction: Cruise buffets go only in one direction only. Do not make your way through line from opposite direction - that's equivalent of cutting line.
  3. Don't cut the line: Of course you would not do it at a grocery store, and better don't do it onboard - even is someone is cheating, wait patiently. If someone is taking a long time, ask if you may pass. Don't walk around the others. If you have been in line already but forgotten an item, ask if you can grab it - that's what courteous behavior means.
  4. Don't eat in line: Food that is already on your plate is not going anywhere, so there's no need to nibble while in line, unless you're diabetic - hope you're not going to die if you waiting a few minutes to eat.
  5. Keep your fingers to yourself: Kids are not the only to offend here. Adults are also just as likely to grab front slices of bread or the top cucumber with their hands. However, don't do it. Use the tongs for a reason.
  6. Don't move tongs: Never move the tongs between platters, for example from the hot food station to a different one - think about what would have happened if there was a person behind who has allergies. And what if there are kosher or vegetarians? Be courteous, though you may have to wait for another serving utensil.
  7. Don't take more than you can eat: Cruise buffet dining is gluttonous, but it doesn't mean you have to be glutton. Don't overload your plate - on your first pass through line, take just a few items, and then go back if you want more. Don't take the last piece of some food - it's rude to leave people behind with nothing. Alert a server if the item has to be replenished, then wait for a refill before serving.
  8. Use a new plate: Wnen you have to go back for seconds, remember to leave the dirty plates at the table and each time get a fresh one. Your fork has touched your dirty plates, so the serving tongs or spoons don't have to touch it.
  9. Don't make doggie bags: No doggie bags are available at cruise ship buffets, with no exceptions. While onboard a cruise ship, there is no need to bag food, because you can make a phone call 24 hours a day to room service and get food.
  10. Watch your children: Escort your young kids to the buffet, always! Remind them to not use their fingers and cut the line. Food items such as bread, nuts, and crudites are tempting for children to grab with bare hands. The smaller ones might also want to run around and risk bumping into guests carrying drinks or trays. Keeping your kids close to you and prevent unnecessary accidents.

Modern cruising is casual, but following the basic cruise etiquette guidelines will improve everyone's vacation. Enjoy the opportunity to have fun, relax and unwind without the pressure of driving unfamiliar roads, negotiating public transportation, or deciding where to eat. Generally, today’s cruises are laid-back, but with 2,000 passengers onboard an average ship, following cruise etiquette rules will make your journey more pleasant.