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- Don't pick the wrong cruise -- or cabin.
- Don't pick the wrong travel companion.
- Don't underestimate the power of the buffet.
- Don't take packing lightly.
- Don't go too hard on the alcohol.
- Don't neglect the crew.
- Don't spend your money on things you don't need.
- Don't forget to save room for souvenirs.
- Don't use the elevators if you can avoid them.
- Don't forget your sunscreen.
- Don't get your teeth whitened.
- Don't be a wallflower.
- Don't forget to pack your chill pills.
Updated January 8, 2020
When it comes to cruising's dos and don'ts, Cruise Critic members are quick with great advice. Our well-traveled readers will help any first-time cruiser avoid making those big-time mistakes that could ruin a cruise. Whether you're a newbie or veteran cruiser, here are 13 things not to do on your cruise -- as advised by the most avid sailors.
Still want more? Check out another 5 mistakes to avoid on your first cruise.
1. Don't pick the wrong cruise -- or cabin.
"For first-time cruisers, it is important that you match your personal preferences to a cruise line that best fits your personality or that best fits what you are looking for this specific vacation,” comments Steven P. That being said, be wary of creating too high a precedent. "Don't book a suite as your first cruise cabin. You will be forever spoiled and NOT ever want to book anything else!" Ali said.
2. Don't pick the wrong travel companion.
Said Holly K: "Don't take the wrong person along. An anti-social misfit alcoholic is not going to be a fun cruise companion." She's not alone with this thought. "Unfortunately my first pleasure cruise was with a stick-in-the-mud ex-girlfriend (we were dating at the time) who had been on several cruises previously," Bob Rauchfleisch said, noting that all she wanted to do was lounge in the cabin.
- Still unsure about your travel buddy? Here are six types of people you should think twice about inviting on a cruise.
3. Don't underestimate the power of the buffet.
You might think your willpower is strong until you've been brought to your knees by the abundance of food choices on a cruise -- especially in the all-you-can-eat buffets. "Don't forget to save your looser-fitting clothes to wear at the end of the cruise … you will gain weight as the week goes on," Gail Guilliams said.
- Feeling the post-cruise bloat? We can help you detox.
4. Don't take packing lightly.
"One of my tips is, don't pack your passport in your luggage or you will not be let onboard until they find your luggage among thousands of luggage," Janet Ortega said. In a similar vein, Sue suggests, "I have found that always having a backpack to go on excursions with is the best thing … Everything, including a light raincoat, is always at hand."
- Check out our top 10 cruise packing tips.
5. Don't go too hard on the alcohol.
Complimentary beverage packages, alluring tropical drinks, onboard wine tasting and bar crawls -- it's too easy to drink your way through the day on a cruise. "Keep a glow on, but whenever you feel a bit too tipsy, have soda water for a while and eat something … then you can start again!" Robb suggests.
6. Don't neglect the crew.
"We have taken many cruises over the years, and we always bring candy with us to give to the staff. It is amazing this little act of kindness brings a smile to their faces," Woodenduck said. Giving the crew some love can be as simple as saying "good morning" and "thank you" with a smile.
7. Don't spend your money on things you don't need.
It's fun to shop for souvenirs when you travel, but you don't want to go crazy. "Do limit your purchases of Caribbean-style clothing. It is easy to get caught up in the ambience, but I promise that once you get back home you won't wear it like you thought you would. Ask me how I know …" Sandy B. commented.
- Get more shopping tips with our list of the 11 best (and worst) cruise souvenirs.
8. Don't forget to save room for souvenirs.
Splurging is one thing, but you'll most certainly want to bring home a few mementos, so make sure you have room in your luggage. "Pack a collapsible extra bag for all the stuff you will bring home even though you swore you weren't getting anything!" Eilean suggests.
9. Don't use the elevators if you can avoid them.
Waiting for the elevator could easily take you five minutes each way. "You waste a lot of time waiting, and there are many who really need to use it," Jan Brandvold warns. Plus, taking the stairs could help you keep off the extra pounds Gail Guilliams mentioned in her tip.
- For more ways to stay healthy at sea, check our top tips.
10. Don't forget your sunscreen.
"Sunburn isn't fun at home, why would you want it on vacation?" Elisabeth posted. Pack your favorite brands in a protective SPF level, and don't forget to reapply if you're on the beach for more than a few hours.
11. Don't get your teeth whitened.
It's true -- you can get cosmetic dental treatments on a cruise ship. However, think twice before you book a medispa appointment. "Do not go for the teeth whitening, no matter how cheap it is. We made the mistake of doing it on our first day and our gums were so sore for a couple days, we couldn't enjoy the food," Tonya said.
- Here are some additional tips for what not to do in the cruise ship spa.
12. Don't be a wallflower.
Cruises are social vacations and a fun way to meet new people from around the country or world. Chat up your shipmates by the pool, at the buffet and on a shore excursion. If you're feeling a bit shy, "join the Roll Call for your cruise!" B'moreCruiser suggests. "You will get to make friends with fellow passengers in advance. Then you get to meet these friends at a 'Meet and Mingle' event on the first sea day."
- Find out about Cruise Critic's Roll Call forums.
13. Don't forget to pack your chill pills.
"Don't complain! You are on an incredible ship, eating incredible food, having your bed made several times a day and people from around the world are AWAY from their FAMILIES to serve us, the cruise passenger guests," Scott Lara insists. Remember that even when things go wrong, you can still have fun if you take it all in stride. Bon voyage!