Some activities and traditions on cruise ships are just – well, weird to some people. But there’s no judgement here. Everyone has a different style of cruising.
We at Cruise Fever, feel that’s one of the best parts of taking a cruise. People with all kinds of tastes and ideas of the perfect vacation can have an amazing time on the same ship.
Still, we thought it would be fun to look at some “cruise things” that just don’t make sense to everyone. This ideas were inspired by a topic posted on Reddit this week.
You might identify with some of these, but the point is to take a lighthearted look at the cruise industry that we all love and know.
Love or hate them, any regular cruiser can identify with most of these.
1. Art auctions
You can find art galleries and art auctions on any mainstream cruise line. And while some art connoisseurs love to admire and even buy various paintings on board, not everyone has the same appreciation.
In fact, — and let’s be real here – some show up just for the free beverages that are often served at art auctions. But if you’re an art lover, you can enjoy pieces of some the latest and greatest, and the cruise line will ship the painting to your home. After all, who wants to explain that huge box to customs.
2. Buying gold by the inch
Purchasing a 14k gold-plated chain by the inch is a tradition for some. Any regular cruiser has walked by the promenade or shops and has seen these rolls of gold necklaces that come in various thicknesses. While its quality has been called into question, buying it by the inch is certainly an interesting concept.
3. Overly competitive trivia players
As a cruise trivia lover myself, I’ve seen some aggressive trivia players on cruise ships. You can often find trivia topics that run the gamut when you look at the daily planner, but some passengers take it to another level. You know the ones. They are combative about every answer and debate its accuracy while attempting to cheat for the grand prize of a cruise line branded foam cup sleeve.
4. Just lounging on deck
The feeling of just doing nothing while soaking in the sun in a deck chair or lounger is a favorite pastime for many cruise-goers. But not everyone gets it. “Why lay in the hot sun and get sun -burned so you can be miserable for the rest of the trip?” is a common thought. And while using sunscreen could prevent this kind of problem, some prefer to either be more active on a ship, or at least find a shady spot to enjoy a good book. The main conflict for some is often that they want to relax but the pool deck is on the noisy side.
Read more: 12 tips for avoiding crowds on a cruise ship
5. Door decorations
Not everyone feels the intense need to decorate their cabin door. But those that do will typically go all out. Decking out the stateroom door with a personal, festive touch is a great way for passengers to find their own cabin on those days they’re not in complete control of their faculties. It’s also just a fun way to let every passerby know a little about you. Still, it’s a strange concept for some cruisers and definitely not something you see so often on land.
6. Spending all day in the casino
What I often call “the donation center” on a cruise ship, the casino is almost always full of passengers – as soon as the ship leaves port and the area can open, that is. Some passengers will spend most of a sea day here. They will sit at the slots until they need physical therapy from the onboard fitness specialist for repeated wrist or elbow movements. And while it’s baffling to me, you can always find someone hoping to strike it rich while on vacation. For those who don’t want a casino on board there’s always a Viking ship, which has no casino at all.
7. The overcrowded main pool
On a busy sea day the main pool on a cruise ship can get a little crowded. Ok, it can get completely packed, depending on the cruise line and how the cruise ship is designed. For some reason, some passengers don’t seem to mind this. It reminds me of the old Yogi Berra axiom, “No one goes there anymore because it’s too crowded.”
By the way, pools aren’t always jam packed on a cruise ship, and much of it depends on the time of day, demographic on board, and how many other pools are available elsewhere.
8. Photo packages
In a day when everyone has an amazing camera in their pockets, it’s hard for some to fathom paying so much money for pictures on a cruise. I totally get this. But every few cruises I will buy on board photos when I want something a little more professional. And the cruise photographers I have worked with have done such an amazing job. It’s a high stress-job for sure, and something I would not want to do myself. But I do wonder if the trend of the photo paparazzi on mainstream lines will morph into something else down the road.
9. Cruise ducks
With more cruise lines talking about banning rubber ducks, this fad may have its days numbered. The trend of hiding rubber ducks on a ship and letting other people find them to either keep or hide again began in 2018 or earlier. Now the colorful duckies can be found on ships across the world. While a fun thing for kids –and kids at heart who want to hoard them–, these ducks are often used for marketing personal and business social media accounts as well. Whatever the fate of these rubber bath toys may be, I’m sure you will be able to find people on both sides of the issue.
10. Having to be back on the ship by a certain time
Cruise ships offer a fantastic way to see many places in the world, all while sleeping in the same bed each night. But it’s difficult to have a truly immersive experience when you only get 6-7 hours to see the city around a cruise port and have to be back before supper. When you are really enjoying a destination and want to stay a little longer, the pull of having to get back on the ship is one filled with mixed emotions.
11. Only being in the cabin to sleep and shower
Not everyone has this viewpoint. But some cruisers will say they don’t care what kind of cabin they book because they will only be in it to sleep and freshen up. These must be some very active cruisers, because personally, I like to take a nap, read a book, or enjoy a private balcony in my stateroom now and then as well. While it can save a lot of money by booking an interior cabin you will only use for sleep, it’s hard for others to comprehend how this can be enjoyable.
12. Onboard shopping
There are plenty of places to enjoy the day on a cruise ship if you’re a shopaholic. And there’s always a sale going on at one of the shops on board. But after spending a good deal of money to book a cruise it’s strange to some that a cruise-goer would want to hit the shops like their at the mall. Sure, there’s the duty-free aspect of it, but the onboard spending can get out of hand very quickly.
13. Dressing up for formal nights
This is a topic that often divides cruisers. And some cruise lines have done away with formal nights altogether. But for those who love to dress their best and experience the tradition of maritime formality at dinner, there are still many cruise ships that will gladly oblige on certain nights.
Whether you dress up or not, just be sure to be respectful of other passengers. If you dress up, don’t look down on those who don’t. And if you wear a hoodie to the MDR, let the guy in the fancy tuxedo feel like James Bond for the night.
14. Overly zealous cruise loyalists
We’ve all seen the posts on social media. People love to brag about their favorite cruise line. And why not? I love it when a cruiser finds just the right cruise line for them. But some take it to a level that is a tad overzealous. I prefer to let the cruise lines be competitive with each other while the cruisers themselves all get along and book wherever works best for them. A Carnival cruiser can still be friends with a Royal Caribbean loyalist, right?
15. Towel animals
Cruise lines have cut down on towel animals in the last few years, but it’s still a cruise tradition that’s hard to let go. On my last MSC cruise I was surprised to see so many towel animals in my stateroom. I admire the time, patience, and expertise it takes to fold a piece of cotton into hundreds of different creatures. But with cruise lines wanting to streamline their costs, the days of towel animals may be fading as well.
16. Planning a day around food
Some find it odd that a person would book a 7-day cruise and then be completely consumed by what they want to consume. But a cruise has a funny way of turning even the average person into a foodie. It’s the best time to try new foods, broaden the horizons of your taste buds, and indulge in amazing foods you might never even think about on land.
Read more: 10 cruise buffet rules to follow
17. Hot tubs in the heat
Especially for those Caribbean cruises in the summer, the idea of sitting in a hot tub when it’s 99 degrees Fahrenheit on the pool deck seems a little crazy. Maybe it is, but cruisers still love to do it.
18. Bellyflop competitions
This competition, among many others, has been a cruise tradition for many years as well. Some cruise lines, like Carnival, have phased out the bellyflop competition and the hairy chest competition for more family-friendly activities on the pool deck. Still, the bellyflop poolside pastime is always one of those things you love to watch but would hate to take part in. Like a car accident or bad karaoke it’s just hard to look away.
19. Elevator rush hour
You don’t need to rush into an elevator on a cruise ship, especially before those inside had a chance to get out first. Cruise ship elevators get a bad wrap for being small and sometimes full of inconsiderate passengers, this is definitely not always the case. But feel free to read our cruise ship elevator survival guide if you’re interested.
20. Eating with strangers
You don’t have to eat with strangers if you don’t want to on most cruise ships. But the idea of going to the main dining room and eating with a total stranger boggles the minds of those who have never been on a cruise before. And while many regular cruisers still prefer to eat by themselves or with their own group, first-time cruisers often benefit from the experience of veteran cruisers at the table. But yes, it’s a little strange, since most of the time when you go to a restaurant on land you only get a table for your party.
21. Lounge chair hogs
I’d like to wave a magic wand and ban all aspects of lounge chair hogging on cruise ships. Many passengers are disappointed to find a row of 20 deck chairs “saved” with towels clipping them in place. I can understand wanting to have a lounger when you get out of the pool, but there’s really no good reason to hog a lounger for hours on end. It’s a practice many cruise lines have tried to tackle, but I’m not sure this is a battle that’s being won just yet.
Read more: 9 best ways to reserve a lounger on a cruise
22. Exercise classes
You’re on vacation. So why on earth would you hit the gym and beat yourself up? Well, for many cruisers, fitness is something that makes them happy. And since they know they will be making regular trips to the buffet it helps to stay on track by burning off those calories. Again, it’s another case of different aspects of cruising appealing to different passengers.
23. Paying for Wi-Fi
If you’re on a cruise to get away from work and the hassles of technology, then paying for Wi-Fi probably seems crazy. But in a world that is so connected, some find it almost impossible to not be in touch back home or to their social media accounts to share their vacation with family and friends.
Read more: 5 ways to save money on cruise ship Wi-Fi
24. Shopping seminars
I went to a couple of these when I was a complete newbie to cruising. For some reason I thought, “How will I know what to buy in this foreign port if no one is going to guide me?”. Now, you may be someone who loves these shopping seminars, but they are not for everyone. After being to enough Diamonds International and Del Sol store fronts, I pass on these myself. But I know some who love to get the coupon books and free trinkets and gifts.
25. The newly wed gameshow
Another right of passage on a cruise ship is to at least attend the newly wed game show that most cruise ships offer. Sometimes the questions get repetitive if you’ve been to enough of these, but a good cruise director knows how to liven things up.
A cruise vacation is a unique experience. There are things you will see on a cruise ship that just don’t happen in any other setting. This post captures just a few of them, but the list could extend to 100 things if we wanted to keep going. The main point is that you don’t have to enjoy every single thing on the ship. Just find what you do like and run with it. Once you have Cruise Fever, you never want to get over it.