A Cruise Ship Etiquette Lesson, Like It or Not

March 29, 2012 | By | 23 Comments

You might not expect someone named Picklebongo, a moniker evoking sour dills and beatniks, to kick off a debate on at-sea etiquette. But Pickle did just that, weighing into the underwater minefield of do’s and don’ts on the Cruise Critic message boards.
The only thing we can all agree on when it comes to etiquette?
The conversation will rage.

“I thought it would be helpful for veteran cruisers to generate some general etiquette expectations for the novice cruisers,” wrote Pickle, introducing the topic. “Of course there are the obvious ones such as: no saving seats, arrive on time for dinner in [main dining room], don’t slam cabin doors, hands out of the buffet trays and wait for occupants to exit the elevator before attempting to enter.” But Pickle was curious about more specific infractions, like elevator talking (don’t do it if the elevator is really packed, he said) and sharing wine with tablemates (a suggestion most vehemently disagreed with).
Many posters targeted the behavioral breaches reflective of their experiences.
“Please do not eat or drink in the pools/hot tubs. Seen the mess,” posted A2Mich, though we’re not certain what “mess” refers to.
“For all of you early to bed early to risers,” wrote Crazycoop, “please remember just as you want us to be courteous at 3 a.m. when we get in, we would like you to be just as quiet at 6 am getting up and going to breakfast with your kids.” Naturally, the opposite point of view surfaced frequently.
Kids — and their parents — a common target when it comes to at-sea rule-breaking, were called out, too. “Adults-only means adults only,” said bookcreator. “It also means if you are adults AND your children are with you, they are still not allowed in the adults only/no children area.”
It took 80 posts, but — get out your clothespin — elevator flatulence made an appearance courtesy of FightOnRon.
Here’s one that can end badly if you don’t abide by it: “Please return to the ship on time … I’d hate to have to laugh watching you run down the pier as the ship is casting off!” said A2Mich. Watch a hilarious clip of Mich’s alleged breach of decorum.
But for every poster offering a rule to cruise by, there was one casting doubt on the whole conversation. H82seaUgo has just one law of ship: “When you book a cruise, realize you are paying to share a ship … with [those who] have quirks you may not be used to. Save your rules for where you are in total control, like home. Trying to instill them in public is fruitless.”
Beachbum53 agreed — with a caveat. “While I agree that good manners and common sense go along, it’s unrealistic to expect everyone on a cruise ship will act and behave as you think they should. You’d be surprised how things are much more tolerable after a few D.O.D’s [drinks of the day].”
“On a cruise ship, you can encounter a huge array of cultures,” wrote the cosmopolitan-minded enryon. “Each of those cultures has a different standard of good etiquette. The real truth of etiquette on a cruise or anywhere else is to understand that social norms are not universal. What is polite to you can be offensive to another. Be patient with others and if somebody does something that bothers you, let it go. They may not believe they are doing anything wrong.”
For simplelife, etiquette is all about attitude. “Smile. Laugh. Look for the beauty or the humor in every situation — usually you can find either or both of these.”
Your take: If you could create and enforce just one rule of etiquette, what would it be?
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    23 Responses to “A Cruise Ship Etiquette Lesson, Like It or Not”

    1. Karen
      March 30th, 2012 @ 9:48 am

      Be nice. That is the only rule. If they are not nice, they will remember that you were. If they don’t care, they why let them take away your fun, walk away. Be nice.

    2. Susan Willis
      March 30th, 2012 @ 10:27 am

      Don’t slam the balcony door!

    3. Carmellia
      March 30th, 2012 @ 11:22 am

      My only comment is Be respectful of all, and yeah, that means being nice. Say hello to other people from other parts of the world and LEARN the customs. We do every cruise and learn something new each time, as well as meeting interesting people.

    4. Cori Macrae
      March 30th, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

      One rule for parents – if you bring your kids you are not on vacation from parenting. Children screaming or climbing the walls is just not acceptable.

    5. Brian
      March 30th, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

      Treat others the way you want to be treated. (Modern version of the “Golden Rule,” you know, “Do unto others . . .”)

    6. david
      March 30th, 2012 @ 6:46 pm

      If you’re on a large ship, you’re in a a small town of 3,000 or many more. In that town there will be mannered people, classy people, and people who others first. There’s also be lowlifes, pigs, people who never learned how to say, “thank you” or “please”, and people who look out for themselves and only themselves.

      It’s called, “LIFE”.

    7. Kim
      March 30th, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

      re: Cori Macrae, #4 above
      Well said and worth repeating…\Parents, if you bring your kids, you are NOT on vacation from parenting!\ If you want to be on vacation from parenting, then do NOT bring your kids!\ Thanks, Cori! Just that one \rule\ alone would take care of 99% of the irritants on a cruise. I have 5 children and I would NEVER permit them to misbehave whether on vacation or not! I had a father tell me once on a cruise (while attempting to justify his son’s horrendous behavior and his own lack of parenting), that \We are both on vacation – him from being disaplined and me from disaplining!\ Can you believe THAT?!? THEIR enjoyment at OUR expense! Unbelievably selfish and ignorant folks abound!

    8. Di
      March 31st, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

      I totally agree with the “parents, you are not on a break from parenting if you choose to bring your children on a cruise.” Also, when I am waiting for an elevator and someone runs up in front of me just as the door opens, did they think I was waiting for a train, a plane or a bus? NO, I was waiting for that elevator that you just jumped on in front of me and took the last spot. Common courtesy goes a long way in life. Just be nice. It will not kill you; and you just might enjoy life more.

    9. SYLVAIN
      April 2nd, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

      Pet peeve of mine: people who have no idea how to use their ustensils in public areas. I am not talking about people for whom spaghetti falls in the category of finger food. I am referring to those people who have never seen more than 1 fork and 1 knife flanking their place setting. If in doubt before embarking, do research the subject on the internet. Asking someone who knows has also been known to help. When presented with a steak, it is considered gauche to stab said beast with the fork in your left hand while butchering the meat with the knife in your right hand in a sawing motion until it is cut in small pieces. Manners, people… manners, please. Respectfully submitted.

    10. Popeye
      April 4th, 2012 @ 11:58 am

      As a discreet British cruiser I object to being asked, normally within the first 2 minutes of conversation, “What do you do at home”. To this I normally reply “As little as possible”.
      This may come across as rude, however I find this reply far less objectionable than having the person that I am speaking to summing up my possible annual salary and making a worthless value judgement on my character based on this shallow question.
      I personally like to get to know the person not the size of their wallet.

    11. Skip65
      April 4th, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

      Well heck – looks like I better study up on my silverware and steak-eating skills!

    12. BarbS
      April 4th, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

      To Sylvain – Re: How to eat a steak.

      What an absurd comment. Tell me, Miss or Mr. Manners, how does one properly eat a steak? Do you hold your left hand in your lap and chase the meat around the plate with steak knife trying to cut it, ending up with it on the floor? Do you pick it up and eat it with your hands? (Good for those on the Paleo diet). I have yet to try and figure out how to cut a steak without holding it down, unless I ask the waiter to do it.

      Busybodies watching how everyone else eats on a cruise ship and tutting about it are one of my pet peeves.

    13. RonM
      April 4th, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

      Hey BarbS: Sylvain is referring to what I call “uppity manners”, wherein you only cut off a small piece at a time — two at the most, then eat them before cutting more. Heaven help you if you cut 3 or more!! I sometimes deliberately cut mine completely into small pieces just to annoy someone like that. Or just to see if there are any in the group that it does annoy. Great snob-detecting technique, by the way!! LOL!!

    14. Will
      April 4th, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

      Good grief! Just when you felt it was safe to dine on the high seas with new acquaintances, the DINNER POLICE arrive. What difference does it make how you cut your meat as long as it does not fly onto someones plate accross the table. As far a “sawing motion” goes perhaps you should ask someone the purpose of the serrated edge of a steak knife.


    15. CruisinRyan
      April 4th, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

      I suppose one could avoid the steak sawing motion IF, one had a super sharp non-serrated steak knife, plus a deliciously tender steak of the highest order (no longer found on cruises of less than 6 stars, by the way), thus allowing one to daintily slice off, in one lateral movement, one dainty piece. But in which direction should the pinky be pointing??

    16. Lynda
      April 5th, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

      @Sylvain – Actually you are completely incorrect. What you described is the American way of using utensils, not the European way. I personally cut up my entire piece of meat. Fork in left hand, knife in right. I don’t want to wrestle with my food while eating or constantly be fiddling with the food on my plate. It is ill mannered to point out what you consider to be bad manners when it comes to the way others eat. Bad eating manners is chewing loudly with your mouth open, talking with food in your mouth and generally making a mess and taking up other’s space. Dude there are bigger issues on a cruise than how someone uses their utensils. Like unruly kids..

    17. Sarah
      April 5th, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

      I’m confused. I don’t think I’m bad mannered- I cut my steak the way my mother taught me. I mean, I know enough to use my silverware from the outside in, but I’ve never heard of this steak cutting rule.

    18. AFFirstSgt
      April 5th, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

      A few of the comments above are right on. The one I like best is the one about kids: Children are to be under control and mannerly at all times in public. No child is ever on vacation from manners; nor should any parent ever be on vacation from teaching manners.
      If you have problems with that, stay in your cabin and enjoy total chaos to your hearts content.
      Manners at the dinner table are expected for normal peoples behavior. If you don’t know what to do when presented with five forks, three spoons and two plus knives, remember the rule: work your way in from the outside. The waiter will bring you more if you need them. Please don’t do what my Dad did on our first (only) cruise with Mom and Dad; throw everything on the floor and complain about being presented with too many ‘things.’ [He paid BIG time when my Mom got him back in their cabin.]

    19. alma clermont
      April 9th, 2012 @ 9:13 am

      My peve is the internet on carvanal Liberity, I was over charged for hours i never used i am trying to find the right people to complain to and to receive a refund

    20. Pat
      April 11th, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

      My one rule would be to have every passenger read the article above, and to keep a “can’t we all just get along” attitude.

    21. ModFLCouple
      April 14th, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

      We mainly cruise on Holland, but have been very disappointed lately with guests following dress codes! Formal means formal, don’t show up to the main dining room without a jacket. If you don’t want do dress for dinner, go the Lido or order room service. Even on Smart Casual nights we observed people wearing jeans in the dining room. Very disappointing!

    22. JABeachLvr
      April 27th, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

      Two Pet Peeves, one is people that treat the staff like servants or 2nd class citizens. And the other is people that constantly complain about the boat, the drinks, the food, the weather and so on. I am vacation and I don’t really care if the last boat you were on was newer or the drinks were cheaper, etc, etc.

    23. yup
      July 20th, 2012 @ 3:56 am

      I wonder what kids learn when their parents use vacation as a justification for bad behavior. “Always be polite… unless we’re out of town”? “Breaks from school/work are also breaks from courtesy”? “My parents care so little about me that they literally don’t care what I do”?

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