How to be a standup shipboard passenger

By Patti Pietschmann Travel Diva

We’ve all been on cruises where some shipmates just don’t act acceptably. And it ruins it for everybody. Alas we are living in a time when old-fashion standards have been tossed overboard. But we can help it by abiding by practicing some  etiquette.

  1.  Dress properly: while many passengers dress to the nines, some, quite frankly, show up for events looking like slobs. This is not a good or pleasant thing. Please dress according to the shipboard code, You can find it in the daily program. If “formal” wear usually calls for a tuxedo or suit for men, cocktail dress or gown for women. Some lines let men get way with a jacket and tie.  Informal means jacket and perhaps a tie, attractive evening outfit for women; casual translates into chic resort wear, not warm ups, short shorts or blue jeans.
  2.  Don’t let children get out of hand: particularly in pools. All too often we’ve been jumped on, kicked or splashed by over active youngsters. While we know kids just want to have fun, they should be taught pool protocol.  If you travel with your little ones please keep them under control. This also means keeping them out of casinos and other adult play areas where they are not allowed entry. On the other hand adults could use some poolside etiquette by not obstructing the middle of the pool when others want to do laps. Sit off to the side.
  1.  Learn  ship speak: Please refer to your vessel as a “ship” never a “boat” especially in the company of the Captain takes affront to this. Remember ships are always feminine.  Know your left from your right, and back from your front. Left is “port”, right is “starboard.” “Aft” means rear or stern, while “bow” is the front or pointy end of the ship.  Tender isn’t how you want your steak or an adjective on a ship, but rather a lifeboat and/or the vessel that takes passenger to and from shore when the ship is at anchor in a port.

The Bridge isn’t something the ship passes under (although on occasion is does) but rather the place where the Captain and his crew maneuver the ship. Some ships have “open bridge” policies which means passengers are welcome to visit at any time. On the other hand the “Brig” is where you don’t want to be, as this is the ship’s jail.

Queuing up and ordering wine

4.  Queue up and keep your cool: some passengers tend to leave all decorum behind when it comes to waiting in line. There are times when you will have to be patient and wait your turn. Please do it with grace. This means not crowding the stairways when it’s time to disembark either in a port.

5. Follow fair bill-splitting when ordering wine for the table:  this can get awkward. Especially when eight or 10 strangers are seated at a dinner table. The proper etiquette, when everyone imbibes is to
take turns buying the wine. But this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes one passenger or one couple winds up stuck with the tab. To combat this, discuss the situation with your table
mates. Set the guidelines albeit delicately in advance. Good tablemates share the wine costs. Of course this doesn’t apply to ships that include drinks in the fare such as Crystal, Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas and others.

Of course on all-inclusive cruises where free wines are poured, this only applies  when ordering premium wines that aren’t on the complimentary menu.

6. If puff you must please don’t blow smoke in shipmate’s faces: smokers can be a major turn off for those who don’t. Please smoke only in designated areas only. Smoking on your balcony is strictly taboo. But some rule-breakers do it anyway much to our chagrin. There are also big fines for breaking this rule and even eviction from the ship.

Hogging seats

7.  Be courteous and don’t hog Seats at shows: While it’s okay to save a seat for your traveling companion it is poor taste to save seats for your entire table. It’s first come first seated at showtime, folks. Just grab your friends and go together.

8. No fair saving deck chaises either: just about every cruise line requests that passengers do not do this. Yet many unscrupulous sorts race up on deck early in the morning and place suntan lotions, books, magazines and whatever else they can on lounges to keep them all day for themselves even if they don’t show up for hours. Like showrooms, it’s a first come, first save basis and you have to be present to reserve your place in the sun. Also please show courtesy when in the  swimming pool and move to the side when others want to swim laps.

9. Follow jogging hour rules:  most ships post hours when running is allowed. There’s a reason for this. Passenger cabins are often located under the jogging deck and some folks are
trying to sleep or nap.

10. Exercise with dignity: if you use a gym or health club at home the same rules and courtesies apply on a cruise ship. This means limited your time on equipment such as tread¬
mills, bicycles and ellipticals to 30-minutes when others are waiting. Wiping equipment after use and wearing decent attire. Don’t laugh it’s amazing what some people put on to work out.

Okay I forgot one very important commandment: thou must faithfully follow coronavirus cruise ship protocols. This means wearing a mask, social distancing and washing and sanitizing hands often.  Of course if this mandates change (wishful thinking that the pandemic will end) you can skip this one.

But please use tissues or hankies when blowing your nose, sneezing and coughing. And, always use the anti-bacterium sprays before entering dining and other venues. Please for the sake of the health of everyone on board.


Contact a courteous, helpful Pavlus advisor for all your cruise needs either on the site or at 800-528-9300.


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