Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cruise Etiquette 101

We’ve sailed on some of the largest ships at sea and lately it seems as though common courtesy goes out the window when folks cruise. When the ship has a lot of children sailing, it becomes even worse. Everyone wants to enjoy their vacation, but rude behavior can affect the enjoyment of your fellow cruisers.

Here are a few tips to making your cruise pleasant for you and your fellow passengers:

1. Wait for elevator occupants to exit before getting in an elevator. That should be done anywhere, not just on a cruise ship. And children should be taught this as well. And please teach kids not to press every button – there is nothing worse than making what should be an “express” trip into a “local”.

2. Keep your hands out of the buffet food. It is no wonder norovirus can spread so quickly on a ship. Tongs and serving spoons are there for a reason – use them to prevent disease. I can’t say this is limited to kids – I saw just as many adults taking cake with their hands from a display in a coffee bar not using the tongs as I did kids. It’s gross and unsanitary.

3. Use the hand sanitizers at the entrance to the restaurants. That helps prevent germs from spreading. Some cruise lines are very good at this – NCL employees favorite saying is “Happy Happy, Washy Washy”. If they don’t see you use the hand sanitizer when entering the buffet, they will spray your hands for you when you walk in.

4. Don't be a chair hog. For some reason, people think that getting up at the crack of dawn to put a towel and book on a chair to save is a sport. These same people don't bother to use the chair until 2 PM. This is selfish - if you aren't going to be using the chair at 6 AM, don't save it. I have yet to see a cruise ship that I could not find a chaise lounge on it I went down to the pool late.

5. Don't yell or run in the hallways. There is nothing worse when you are dead asleep in bed to hear late night revelers who have had too much to drink yelling and laughing their way down the hallway to their cabin. Or to hear the "bang,bang,bang" of stomping on the floors when running down the hallway. And when in your cabin, please don’t be too rowdy – the walls are thin and you can hear what goes on in the next cabin.

6. Stick to the dress code. Your daily program will advise you of the dress code for the day. Sitting next to someone in sweaty clothes in the show theater or casino is not pleasant. There is a line that allows casual clothing for the full cruise. Sail on that line if you don't want to adhere to the dress code.

7. Don't save seats. While it is okay to save a seat for your traveling companion, forget about saving a whole row of seats for every person traveling with you, be it in the theater or at a buffet table. If your companions want to see the show or eat with you - they should arrive with you.

8. Be a considerate smoker. Light up only where you are permitted to. Many lines no longer permit smoking in the cabin and you might find a large charge on your final bill if you don't adhere to the rules.

Be a considerate cell phone user - or tablemate. The entire ship or bus (if you are on an excursion) doesn't want to hear your conversation. But that is no different than using your cell phone at home - right? When not on a phone, be aware of how loud your voice is when speaking. On a recent cruise, we heard a woman four table away loudly discussing the Penn State abuse case in front of her three small kids. I didn't want to hear it and her kids didn't need to hear it either.

10. Control your kids. For EVERYONE'S safety , you should not allow kids to freely roam the ship,play in elevators, splash others in the pools, eat in gangs at the buffet or jump around in hot tubs. My wife was recently tripped by kids running on the stairs, causing her to fall down the steps and tear tendons in her ankle. Our vacation was ruined because some parents had no idea what their kids were doing. If an ship area says "Adults Only" - your kids aren't the exception to the rules.

11. Remove your hat when eating. I can't blame this on kids - we see grown men on every cruise eating with their hats on. While we know Emily Post is no longer required reading, basic etiquette tells you to remove your hat when eating. Or going to church when you are home.

12. Tip accordingly. Cruise ship employees do not make a fortune and try their best to provide good service while working very long hours. Please don’t remove the auto tips. If you have an issue with service, go to Guest Services and try and have it corrected while you are sailing. If your ship offers a back stage tour, take it – you’ll get some insight into what the staff has to deal with.

13. Don't push to make yourself the "first" anywhere. Don't you think everyone wants to get off the ship when it arrives in port? Or waiting on line for anything? Wait your turn - you are no more important than the person waiting behind you. And while you are waiting, don't whine - nothing is ever perfect on a vacation. No one wants to hear your complaining.

14. Wipe down the machines in the gym when you are finished. I don't like it when I sweat on a machine and always wipe it down with a towel when I am finished. You should do the same. And don't hog the machines - if people are waiting, please adhere to the gym guidelines on the amount of time spent on the machine.

15. Jog at an appropriate hour. Passengers on the deck below are sleeping at 6 a.m. and don't want to listen to running above them. Please review the hours for jogging in your daily news paper.

Thankfully, rude passengers are the minority but just a few inconsiderate people can ruin a cruise for many others. Let courtesy be your guide and you’ll have a great time on your cruise.

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