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The unwritten rules of going on a cruise

21 Jan 2021
Matt Hochberg

From sports, to your workplace, to school, there are always unwritten rules that everyone kind of knows about and should follow.

The same is true about going on a cruise ship, and these rules are not necessarily written down anywhere, but they are the social norms many guests follow.

Many of these rules are based on "common sense" or courtesies extended through much of society these days.

If you are going on a cruise, these unspoken rules are things you should definitely be aware of before doing something you might regret later.

Don't cut the buffet line

The Windjammer buffet does not have defined lanes, or entry and exit points.  But that does not mean you can drop in ahead of others as you see fit.

When you approach a buffet station, the courteous thing to do is start at one of the ends and let others who are there before you pick their food first.

The key is not interrupting the flow of the line, and being respectful of other guests who have been waiting for their food too.

Speaking of the buffet, always get a new plate whenever you go back up.

Don't save a pool chair indefinitely

The pool deck tends to be more of a "wild west" in terms of reserving space, but the right thing to do is not hoard chairs if you are not using them.

A contentious issue is how long one can reserve a deck chair near the pool while it is unoccupied. 

You may hear the term "chair hogs" thrown around, which refers to people who throw their belongings on a chair in order to reserve it for the day.  While that may not sound bad, often someone will get up early in the morning to do this, many hours before the people who they reserved the chairs for actually show up.

It is easy to fall into, "if I don't do what they're doing, I won't get a chair either" mentality, but I prefer to not contribute to the problem.

The respectful thing to do is reserve chairs as long as they are actively needed. Certainly everyone steps away now and again, but locking up chairs for the day hours before they will be needed is a faux-pas.

Remember your neighbor can probably hear you

Stateroom cabins are not soundproof, so it is important to be respectful of noise levels from your room.

Whether you are playing the television too loud, yelling at your kids, or "frolicking" with a loved one, keep in mind there is a good chance the people on either side of your room can hear it.

This applies to balconies as well, as noise can easily bleed over into other people's balconies and even rooms.

You should tip the crew

While gratuity is technically optional in the academic sense of the word, it is compulsory on Royal Caribbean cruises.

Just like dining at a restaurant, the crew members work on tips and your cruise fare does not cover their services.

Royal Caribbean charges an automatic gratuity that covers your stateroom attendant and waiters. This is a daily charge you can pre-pay or have take out on each night of the cruise.

Royal Caribbean allows guests to remove the automatic gratuity if they would rather pay these same crew members in cash, and not as a cost savings mechanism.

Be punctual with shore excursions

They say, "punctuality is the politeness of kings" and it applies to shore excursions too.

Often tours you go on will have time to explore on your own, and if you are late, you are holding up the entire group.

Be mindful of your time and do your best to ensure you are back when everyone agrees to return.

Don't use your hands to pick up food

There are salad tongs at each buffet station for a reason, so don't use your hands.

Not only is using your hands to pick up food bad manners, it is putting others health at risk when it comes to cross contamination. Germs can easily be spread from hands to food surfaces.

I know those bread rolls are hard to grab with the tongs, but it is still a must do.

Let people out of an elevator first

When you are waiting for an elevator, let people who are in the elevator get out before trying to get in.

If you don't, you are going to cause a log jam in the elevator doors between trying to get in while others try to get out.

Not only is letting others out of the elevator first courteous, it also speeds things up all around.

Be kind to crew members

The crew members work on the ship, but that does not mean they are your servants.

Show the crew courtesy and listen to their instructions.  It is easy sometimes to get caught up in frustrations or aggravation while on vacation, but it is crucial for guests to always remember that crew are there to help, not to get yelled at.

Being kind means following their directions, thanking them for little things, and even pausing to talk to them about where they are from or what they love about their job. Most crew members are happy to chat and share things with guests, and being polite to them usually helps make their days great.

No cursing

Regardless of where you are from, or who you are with, you should always watch your language and avoid profanity.

Royal Caribbean is a family cruise line, and you should avoid any cursing, inappropriate comments, or insulting words out of respect for your fellow cruisers.