Opinion10 Worst Violations of Cruise Ship Etiquette

10 Worst Violations of Cruise Ship Etiquette

It shouldn’t be necessary to write this article at all–yet here we are.

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The majority of cruisers are well-aware of standard etiquette on a cruise ship, yet there will always be that 1%. There will be that small percentage who have the desire to push the envelope wherever they go.

Side of cruise ship showing balconies
There are a few cruise etiquette rules you should follow on every voyage.
Photo 16250257 / Cruise Close Up © Olegmit | Dreamstime.com

These rule-breakers might be your neighbor or even your work ‘bestie’. Worse case scenario, they are your spouse or family member.  In their regular, day-to-day lives, they act like civilized people, yet when they set foot on a cruise ship, they forget everything their mama taught them.

If you’ve found yourself guilty of the following crimes, there is hope for you. With a little patience from your family and support from your fellow cruisers, you’ll be rehabilitated by the time you board your next cruise ship.


1. Don’t Be a Lounger Hog

Lounge chairs on cruise ship being saved by towels
Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

Days at sea are the perfect time to soak up some rays.

You will find that many cruisers will grab their ideal lounge chair as soon as the sun comes up. Many even skip the buffet to score an optimal spot by the pool.

Unfortunately, there’s a small population of cruisers who like to “hog” the lounge chairs. They may spread their belongings out along an entire row of loungers, in the attempt to “save” them for their friends and family. Some will even leave their towels and other items on the beach chairs and leave for hours on end.

Undoubtedly, this gets out of hand and is frustrating for others. Use a chair for yourself and then leave when you are done.

Related: How cruisers save lounge chairs on a cruise


2. Wait Your Turn at the Buffet


buffet on MSC Meraviglia
Desserts at the buffet on MSC Meraviglia. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

During lunch hours, the buffet will likely be extremely busy. It may even be hard to find a seat at all, when the ship is at sea. No one is exploring the port or having fun on an excursion and everyone is hungry!

No matter how tempting it may be to jump the line, don’t be “that guy”. I get it. We all get impatient at times, especially when we are hangry. Don’t let the overwhelming urge to “just grab one thing” right in front of someone who has waited in line.

It’s just bad form.

Read more: 10 reasons to eat at the buffet on a cruise


3. Don’t Bring Weapons In Your Luggage

No weapons sign for cruise ship

Surely no one has actually packed a weapon in their luggage, right? Unfortunately this has happened on more than one occasion in the cruise industry.

It is illegal to bring weapons onboard a cruise ship. Cruise ships cannot take the chance to put passengers in harm’s way, by allowing weapons onboard. You cannot bring a gun on the ship, even if you have a permit.

Other items besides guns that are considered weapons are also not allowed. A few of these items include:

  • Knives
  • Pepper spray
  • Brass knuckles
  • Ammunition
  • Batons
  • Tear gas

If you attempt to bring a weapon onboard, be prepared to face the consequences. At the very least, the cruise line will take your weapon away and it’s up to them if they want to give it back to you. The cruise line may decide to not let you board at all. If you make it past security and a weapon is found on the ship, you might even get a little visit to the ship’s holding cell.


4. Avoid Smuggling Liquor and Drugs (duh!)

Many cruise lines will allow you to pre-purchase soft drinks and liquor prior to sailing. These items are usually in your room or delivered after departure. You may even be able to bring aboard a bottle or two of wine in your carry-on.

Having said that, please don’t attempt to smuggle your own liquor onto the cruise ship. And by all means, do not try to bring drugs on the ship. Drugs are illegal and that is no different while at sea.

Related: 10 things that will get you banned from a cruise


5. Never Throw Anything Overboard

woman throwing things overboard a cruise ship
Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

I’m not quite sure why anyone would feel the need to throw anything overboard, but this is a common problem on a cruise ship. A few bad apples occasionally feel the need to throw trash, cigarette butts, or even food overboard. Not only is this littering, it is upsetting the delicate balance of the ocean, potentially harming the sea creatures below.

If you are caught throwing items over the railing, you may be subject to a large monetary fine. The cruise ship may even decide to let you off the ship (and not allowed back on) at the next port.

There is only one exception to this rule. A burial at sea or spreading a loved ones’ ashes can be done, but only with the prior approval of the cruise line.


6. Don’t Play Hooky for the Muster Drill

cruise tips safety drill

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the muster drill has changed protocol on many cruise lines. While some lines require you to meet in-person, some allow you to virtually participate.

No matter the method, EVERYONE must participate. This is for your safety as well as cruise ship staff. In the unlikely event of a real emergency, it’s paramount for everyone to know the proper protocols.

If you decide to start your vacation a little quicker than everyone else and skip this required event, be prepared to be tracked down by cruise staff or officers. Everyone must be accounted for as having participated in this important drill. By skipping the drill, you are causing everyone else to wait longer or to even cause delays.


7. Don’t Be Rude to Staff

Sadly, it’s not uncommon to see passengers being rude to cruise ship staff. It is almost as if some board the ship and forget all reason or how to interact with others.

Cruise ship staff work hard to assist you in making memories to last a lifetime.Occasionally there may be a language barrier, leading to frustration for both parties. While this is understandable, rest assured that the staff wants to assist you and help you have a great vacation.

Related: 10 Biggest cruise tipping mistakes cruisers make


8. Avoid Running Down the Halls and Being Excessively Loud

hallway and stateroom on Carnival Breeze
Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

Especially for kids, the long halls on a cruise ship are highly tempting to run down or even have a race. The hallways are narrow and you could easily run into someone who is just simply stepping out of their cabin.

While we are all on vacation and here to have a good time, there is a point in the evenings when most want to get a good nights’ rest. This is definitely NOT the time to scream and run down the hall.

Actually, it’s never a good time to scream and run down the hall.


9. Please Don’t Wear Inappropriate Clothing

Cruise vacations are definitely the time to let loose, have some drinks, and enjoy yourself to the max. Daily sunbathing and pool time is necessary!
When packing for your cruise, be sure to include appropriate clothing that covers the body.

Unless you are on a chartered “clothing optional” cruise, don’t even consider walking around sans clothes. Make sure private body parts are covered and you aren’t wearing anything that will cause parents to have unnecessary talks with their children on vacation.

Related: 10 things you’re not supposed to wear on a cruise ship


10. And By All Means, Don’t Engage in Overtly Sexual Behavior on Your Balcony

Yes. This has happened and we are discussing it.

If you booked a balcony room, don’t make the mistake in thinking that they are completely private. They aren’t and you can be seen by others, depending on your location. You can also be heard. Just don’t.

There have even been cases of people falling over their balconies while enjoying a little action outdoors. This puts you and your partner’s life at risk.

If nothing else deters you, keep in mind that there are cameras all over the ship.

We hope these suggestions deter any possible urges you may have to be a rule-breaker. Enjoy your next cruise and don’t join the “Worst Violators of Cruise Ship Etiquette” club. It is not a club that you want to be a member of.

Related:  10 things you should never do in your cruise cabin

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Kristi Sellers
Kristi Sellers
Kristi took her first cruise when she was 12 years old and is currently planning her 20th. When she isn’t cruising, she loves to visit the Smoky Mountains. Kristi lives in Alabama with her husband and fur baby, Chico.
Opinion10 Worst Violations of Cruise Ship Etiquette

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