We've all encountered them -- cruise passengers behaving badly. They cut in line, wear jeans on formal night, steal pool towels, chatter loudly at dinner about their past-passenger status and otherwise commit unforgivable breaches of cruise etiquette.
Spurred by Cruise Critic reader feedback and cruisers' comments on our message boards, we started to see just how quickly inconsiderate passengers can ruin others' vacations, and we sensed a trend. We conducted a poll to find out which onboard offenders cruisers dislike most. We were shocked when more than 4,500 people responded, citing rude children as the worst, followed closely by deck chair hogs.
We've compiled a list of the eight worst onboard evildoers, based on 20 years of reader comments and Cruise Critic staffers' own experiences. Check out the "common infractions of cruisers everyone hates" to see if your biggest pet peeve -- or favorite onboard pastime -- made the list.
Photo: Maryna Pleshkun/Shutterstock
--By Ashley Kosciolek, Editor
Defining Characteristics: You can identify poorly behaved children by their foot-stomping, whining and/or tantrum-throwing. They are generally rambunctious and small in stature. They speak in high-pitched tones and might travel in packs that congregate in areas like stairwells, arcades and pool areas (particularly those with water slides).
What Our Readers Say: "The only suggestion I would offer is to (some) parents with young children. You are on vacation, but kids still need some semblance of a schedule, and that means meals on time and naps. Little ones get overstimulated, tired and cranky. I hate to see (and hear!) them crying and whining as their parents insist on dragging them around. It's irritating to the rest of us, and I feel badly for the kidlets." --Kellie Fuller, via Facebook
What to Read: Kid-Free Cruises: 7 Options for Adult Experiences
Photo: Cheryl Casey/Shutterstock
Deck Chair Hogs
Defining Characteristics: This one is a tricky type -- since you probably won't actually see the hogs themselves. They'll be far too busy existing elsewhere on the ship while you struggle to find a place to sit by the pool. If you look around and see books, flip-flops or any combination thereof on otherwise empty chairs, they're definitely lurking nearby.
What Our Readers Say: "Chair hogs = evil." --Tony Alfana, via Facebook
What to Read: Pictures of Cruise Ship Deck Chair Hogs Behaving Badly
Photo: cruisetobeaches/Cruise Critic member
Defining Characteristics: This is another type you might not directly encounter... or at least not until you knock on their cabin doors to ask them to put out their cigarettes before your entire balcony experience is overtaken by the smell of eau de ashtray. They can frequently be distinguished by their phlegmatic coughing and raspy intonation, and clouds of smoke often encircle them.
What Our Readers Say: "An occasional cigarette is one thing. Nonstop chain smoking at all hours (honestly, don't you leave your room?) is quite another." --septane, via the Lido Deck Blog
What to Read: 10 Things Not to Do on a Cruise Ship Balcony
Defining Characteristics: Anything you've done, they've done, too -- and according to them, they've done it better, more frequently or for a lower price. This breed can often be found interrupting fellow cruisers to enlighten them with unsolicited information about the best cruise/cabin/excursion/meal/pretty much any topic ever. Other possible indicators include a demanding attitude and frequent references to their super-duper upper-tier precious-metal-level cruise line loyalty club status.
What Our Readers Say: "It seems to me that a lot of people are pretty proud of being elite and take every opportunity to let you know their status. I don't care what your so-called status is." --dhill, via Cruise Critic message boards
What to Read: Cruise Line Loyalty Programs
Photo: Beth Swanson/Shutterstock
Defining Characteristics: They skimp on gratuities, moan that their cabin steward didn't make that towel animal just right or complain to you at dinner about the quality of the service, despite your waiter's stellar efforts, just because they resent the expectation to tip. These characteristics may be accompanied by eye-rolling and/or snorting at frequent intervals during contact with crewmembers, as if to say, "Seriously, you think you're going to get a tip for that?"
What Our Readers Say: "I hate cruisers who treat the crew like crap." --Karen, via the Lido Deck
What to Read: Ultimate Guide to Cruise Ship Tipping
Defining Characteristics: Just look for anyone carrying more than two heaping plates of food at one time. They're known for taking off with the last slice of pizza, burger or creme brulee -- which wouldn't be so bad if they hadn't already crammed seven of each onto their plates. They also tend to accumulate large numbers of dirty trays, dishes and flatware at their tables, leaving little room for others in their group.
What Our Readers Say: "I'd have to say the people I hate the most are the ones that race around the buffet line, bumping into everyone and filling their plates up so high that food falls off. Don't they realize that you can go up for more if you want?" --Paul, via the Lido Deck
What to Read: 10 Commandments of Cruise Ship Buffet Etiquette
Defining Characteristics: Although generally friendly in nature, these types can be clumsy, messy and loud. They often exhibit dilated pupils, inconsistent gait and garbled speech. They might vomit frequently and/or sing bad karaoke. They often move about the ship in groups and can usually be found making frequent trips between onboard bars or clubs and the restrooms.
What Our Readers Say: "Loud vulgar drunks on deck, usually 10 or more huddled around a table for four with several buckets of beer." --William Freeman, via the Lido Deck
What to Read: Cruise Line Alcohol Policies
Photo: Jan Mika/Shutterstock
Defining Characteristics: Elevator invaders have little regard for those who share their space. They push and shove their way into already-crowded areas, refuse to move so those in the back can exit, press every single button just because and sometimes even, uh, "stink up" the joint. Also included, of course, are the ones who leave puddles of pool water in their wake as they drip-dry on the way to their cabins.
What Our Readers Say: "Elevator hogs! These are the people who pile in as soon as the doors open before letting people out. Also the ones that refuse to step out so that people in the back can get off." --Beth Clarke, via Facebook
What to Read: Boards Discussion: Elevator Etiquette
Photo: Everett Collection/Shutterstock
In the wee hours of the morning, under the cover of darkness, they creep. Their flip-flops smack across the pool decks of cruise ships everywhere as they shuffle like a horde of zombies armed with towels, sunscreen and books. If it sounds like a scene from a horror movie, you're on the right track. We're talking about deck chair hogs -- those inconsiderate fellow passengers who rise before the sun to stake out prime poolside real estate, mark it with personal belongings and then abandon it, rendering it useless to others. If you've had enough, we urge you to stand up to these selfish sunbathers and claim the deck chair that's rightfully yours. Join the peaceful revolution by employing the following seven tips for outsmarting deck chair hogs.