Opinion9 Ways Cruise Passengers Get the Crew in Trouble

9 Ways Cruise Passengers Get the Crew in Trouble

On a few cruises, I’ve seen passengers do and say things that unintentionally got the crew into trouble.  At the very least, give them a few headaches.

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I’ve even been guilty of it myself, asking questions that weren’t helpful, or thinking I was being helpful when I actually made things more difficult for a crew member.

This article highlights some of those behaviors that most cruise ship employees would appreciate if we all stopped doing.

Three cruise ships in port, MSC, Royal Caribbean, Carnival
Cruise passengers make life more difficult for the crew when they do these 9 things. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

If you’re on a cruise, your vacation is taking place in the middle of someone else’s workplace.  So, while you’re sipping an ice-cold beverage in a padded lounger, a crew member is hard at work behind the scenes.

But sometimes cruise passengers make the jobs of the crew a little more complicated.  Good intentions can get someone in trouble, even when the opposite was intended.


1. Offering gifts they can’t accept

A few months ago, Carnival Brand Ambassador John Health addressed a passenger complaint on his social media account.  A woman was upset that her cabin steward would not accept a cake she had made at home and sneaked onto the ship.

Not only was the crew member not allowed to accept this kind of gift from a cruise passenger, but doing so could have other consequences, namely food poisoning.

Cookies, snacks, and other homemade items should not be offered as gifts, and Carnival recently offered new guidelines to passengers who were accustomed to bringing these gifts from home.

“Please only bring something that is factory sealed and still in the packet or box”, Heald said.

This is for the crew’s safety and well being.  If you want to offer a gift to a crew member, a cash tip is always appreciated.

Read more:  10 biggest tipping mistakes cruisers make

cruise ships in port costa maya
Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

2. Advertising how a crew member went above and beyond

It’s a nice gesture.  A crew member will go out of their way to grant a request or solve a problem and then the guest proceeds to post the story online.

Here’s the issue.  The “extra thing” the cruise employee did is read by other potential cruisers who will then make the same requests or have the same expectations of their stateroom attendants.

I remember when a certain “influencer” found a tray of chocolate covered strawberries in their cabin.  The person immediately took to social media, stating that this is what you can expect when sailing with this cruise line.  The problem is that this was a special circumstance and not everyone gets free chocolate-covered strawberries in their cabin.

If a cruise member does something for you that is beyond the scope of their regular job, you should be discreet about how you show your gratitude.  Don’t broadcast to everyone on board that this is what they should also request of other crew members.

When filling out the post-cruise survey, however, this is the perfect time to mention that crew member’s name. 


3. Monopolizing the time of the crew

There’s nothing wrong with being friendly with the crew and talking to them and asking questions.  Just be mindful of their time.  If you spend 30 minutes talking to your cabin steward about how amazing your shore excursion was that day, that’s half an hour taken from their schedule in which they have a lot of other things to do.

Be cordial and enjoy short conversations with the crew when they are in the middle of a shift, but don’t block the hallway so you can give a crew member your list of cruise experiences.

Read the room.  Most of the time you can tell when someone has a lot on their plate and needs to get some things done.  Body language can tell you if the person wants to take a break and talk or really needs to get back to work.


4. Doing the crew’s job for them

It might be slightly mind-boggling to some of you, but there are some cruisers who are so used to cleaning up at home that they will start doing the same on a ship.  After dinner they might start clearing the table themselves out of habit.

The problem is that this could make the waiter or waitress look bad.  You might think you’re helping them, but you’re taking away part of their job.   Their boss could look down on the fact that a cruise passenger did their job for them.

There’s a method to the madness when it comes to clearing a table or cleaning up on the pool deck.  Try not to interfere with the process even if you have to hold yourself back from stacking all those plates on the table.

Read more: How a better crew makes for a better cruise

loungers on cruise ship
Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

5. Asking about their salary

This goes for any overly personal questions, but I hear this one get asked way too often on cruise ships.  Asking how much a crew member gets paid crosses the line.  You might be curious and be dying to know, but don’t throw common sense and general etiquette out the window when you’re on board the ship. 

You can ask questions and get to know the crew, though.  This doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly.  In fact, I recommend cruisers take the time to know a little more about their server or stateroom attendant.  But make sure it’s out of care and kindness rather than sheer curiosity or in trying to “get the scoop” on cruise ship workers.

Being away from family is hard, and it’s something every crew member has to endure.  It’s just part of the job.  I will often ask about their families and when they expect to see them again.  Just remember not to ask about potentially embarrassing or polarizing topics.


6. Being Late

Did you know that if a cruise ship leaves a port of call later than expected it could face extra fees? 

Cruise ships pay port fees at every port of call.  This is built into the price you paid for your cruise.  But when a ship waits for late passengers who are frantically trying to get back, it can face extra penalty fees in some situations.

If you want to cause fewer headaches for the crew of a ship, get back on time. 

Read more: The biggest reason people miss their ship in a foreign port

Celebrity Cruises ship sailing off into the ocean
Don’t let your ship sail away with out you. We explain the biggest reason people miss their ship.
Photo Credit: Cruise Fever


7. Being a little too friendly

Flirting with the crew is highly frowned upon.  Even if you’re just joking around, this kind of behavior could get you in some hot water. 

Crew members are not allowed to exhibit any kind of romantic behavior with guests on board.  If an employee on the ship is caught fraternizing with passengers, they could face a reprimand or even lose their jobs.

Crew are not even allowed into passenger cabins (except for cleaning of course).  Most cruise lines have a no socializing policy for anything beyond a friendly chat.

There may be more leeway when a crew member is off duty, but the same basic rules still apply.  Usually, ship entertainers have more freedom as well, as they are more like subcontractors on the ship.


8. Taking pictures of the crew

Always ask before you take a picture of one of the crew.  Contrary to common belief, not everyone wants to have their picture plastered all over social media while they work.   Ask before taking a picture and ask if you can post it online. 

I only recommend taking pictures of the crew so you can remember their names for the post-cruise survey.  This way you can get the spelling on the nametag right and give the proper credit to a crew member.


9. Using the post-cruise survey to vent

Rather than complain about an issue with someone on board the ship, some cruisers will vent their frustration in the post-cruise survey instead.

And while this survey is the perfect place to talk about how you enjoyed your cruise, if you have a problem while on the ship it’s best to talk to the staff about it right away. 

Some cruisers, trying to be polite, will just grin-and-bear-it when there is a problem a stateroom attendant can actually solve.  In fact, a cabin steward would rather you bring up an issue with them rather than bring it up in the post-cruise survey.  These surveys have consequences, both for good and bad.  It can lead to an employee’s promotion or to getting someone in trouble. 

Don’t wait until the cruise is over to complain about an issue.  Kindly mention it to someone on board and get it solved so you can enjoy your vacation. 

If you’ve worked on a cruise ship or are currently part of a crew, we’d love to hear what comments you have on this topic.  What pet peeves do you have?  Where did I miss the mark on some of the points above?

Leave a comment below and let us know.

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J. Souza
J. Souza
Jon is the co-founder of Cruise Fever and has been on 50+ cruises since his first in 2009. As an editor, 15-year writer on the cruise industry, and avid cruise enthusiast he has sailed with at least 10 cruise lines and is always looking for a great cruise deal. Jon lives in North Carolina and can be reached at [email protected].
Opinion9 Ways Cruise Passengers Get the Crew in Trouble

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