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10 Things Polite People Never Do on Cruises

Don't be the person who ruins someone's vacation!

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White Luxury cruise ship in bay from front
Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock

Everyone can enjoy their cruise if you avoid doing these things

Cruises are a wonderful opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy the water and sun. Don’t let rude people ruin your cruise—better yet, before booking a cruise, learn not to be one of those people who ruin someone else’s vacation. Click on to see the things polite people never do on cruises.

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interior of a living cabin on a cruise ship - with bunk beds and window

Argue in the cabin

Especially late at night, be courteous. “Cruise ship rooms tend to have thin walls; therefore you always want to be respectful when you’re walking through hallways so as not to disturb other guests,” says Bonnie Tsai, founder and director of Beyond Etiquette. “This also includes being as quiet as you can when you’re inside your cabin.” Cruisers who really want to avoid as much noise as possible shouldn’t book their room under the gym or pool deck, if possible, according to these cruise advice and tips.

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Pretend the cruise is a personal yacht

The ship is your home away from home for a set amount of time. You should still keep in mind your behavior and presentation, according to Tsai. “There’s no need to show off your immense collection of expensive jewelry or wear lingerie or pajamas in the hallways,” she says. There are plenty of other guests sharing the same space, and they may not want to see your plaid PJs.

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Hog lounge chairs

It’s impolite to save seats for your family and friends, whether it’s by the pool or in the theater. Tsai says if you must save a seat, do so for only 30 minutes. Ships have a limited amount of seating, so be mindful. Another important tip to keep in mind is if your group wants to sit together, show up at the same time. “If it’s a situation where every lounger is sure to be occupied by 10 a.m., many cruises allow guests to place towels on loungers for a maximum of 30 minutes before they arrive,” Tsai says. “Gauge the situation and act with consideration for other guests.”

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Crop close up of african American man clean hands in pure water from tap or faucet, perform morning cleanup routine at home, biracial male wash in modern design sink after having shower in bathroom

Spread germs

If you’re not feeling so great during your cruise, do your best to keep your germs to yourself. “When one person is sick on a cruise, it’s easy for the whole ship to get infected as everyone’s staying in close quarters,” Tsai says. If you feel a cold coming on, try to avoid being in overly-crowded areas, so you don’t get others sick as well. And always cover your mouth with the nook of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.

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Served table on the ship. Serving of the dinner table in the cabin restaurant ocean liner. Food and service at the marine ship. Utensils for passenger cruises.
Natalya Rozhkova/Shutterstock

Skip the tip

Many major cruise lines charge a daily fee for tips, but lots of people have confusion about tipping, according to Tsai. Confirm the tipping policy before booking your cruise. “If the cruise line doesn’t include tip in your payment, be sure to factor that into your budget when you plan for your trip,” Tsai says. “If tipping isn’t included and there is a standard tipping policy, then be sure to deliver it to the staff who’s helped you during your trip.” Tipping is customary for room service, dining services, childcare, and any additional alcohol. Figure out how much to tip in every situation with this advice.

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Woman wearing a floppy straw hat and a white dress standing next to the railing on a cruise ship
Victor Moussa/Shutterstock

Constantly complain

There’s no reason to be rude if something doesn’t go your way during the cruise. Polite people never take issues out on crew members, according to Emilie Dulles, an event protocol and etiquette expert. “The crew is there to ensure that every traveler has the best experience onboard possible, yet they are also skilled human beings who should be treated with respect, grace, and kindness,” Dulles says. “Nothing is as tacky as yelling at a server, or complaining at the turn-down staff for forgetting an extra blanket, or hitting on a mixologist after one too many daiquiris.” Pay respect and attention to cruise workers. There are some code words you never want to hear on cruise ships.

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champagne on boat with toothy smiles, happy multicultural friends pouring sparkling wine and smiling.

Drink too much

Everyone should enjoy their cruise, and if that means sipping on fruity cocktails, that’s your business. If drinking regularly isn’t your m.o, or you don’t know how to handle your liquor, it could lead to lots of rude behavior. “Inhibitions go down as blood alcohol content goes up, so to avoid embarrassing oneself and disrupting other travelers’ cruise experience, it’s more polite to keep one’s cocktail count in check,” Dulles says. Overdoing it on the cocktails is also one of the rude hotel habits you should stop ASAP.

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behind mother and her daughter standing on deck of yacht and they look far aboard
Pavel L Photo and Video/Shutterstock

Let kids run wild

Many families don’t keep a close eye on their kids while on a cruise, Dulles says. “There are assigned areas for children to run, jump, and be themselves with full energy under the supervision of trained staff,” Dulles says. “The entire ship is not their playground.” Polite people recognize that not all cruise travelers want to see or hear kids all the time. Mind the signs that show what areas are only for adults, families, or kids. “By respecting those boundaries, not only will children enjoy themselves more, but also adults will be able to relax and make the most of their time at sea.” Some cruises are especially for families.

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food on cruise ship

Hoard food

All-inclusive food is very alluring. It’s easy to take things to the extreme. And although the buffet is tempting, remember not to be wasteful. “When it comes to the all-inclusive aspect of cruise voyages, many travelers will see this as an opportunity of getting as much as possible out of their fare,” Dulles says. “By piling more food than they can consume on their buffet plate and ordering cocktail after cocktail just because they can, travelers  can be very wasteful and inconsiderate towards the crew who spends a lot of time and energy putting together the meals and drinks available.” Instead, take enough food for one sitting. You can always choose to go back for seconds, but this is more elegant than throwing away platefuls of perfectly good food. On the hunt for an all-inclusive cruise? These are the 10 greatest ones for the best vacation ever.

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Family travelling on cruise ship on sunny day. Family with cute son on summer vacation. Family rest concept. Father, mother and child walk on deck of cruise liner with sea waves on background.
Volodymyr Tverdokhlib/Shutterstock

Dress inappropriately

During the daytime, there are generally no dress code requirements on cruises. Tsai notes, however, if you plan on a formal dining experience with other guests, dress appropriately for the occasion. Generally, dress code requirements for the evening are in the cruise’s daily program, according to Tsai.

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is a former staff writer at Reader’s Digest. There’s a 90% chance Emily is drinking tea right now, but when she’s not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts and liking one too many astrology memes.