Ah, the allure of a cruise ship balcony: They say once you've tried a balcony cabin, you'll never go back. (And no, we aren’t referring to cruise ship balcony sex. Mind out of the gutter, please. Then read #3 and probably #4.) We’re talking about fresh ocean breezes. Coffee and a morning newspaper on your very own swath of decking. Sunsets, sunrises, and amazing scenery are yours to enjoy every day of your cruise. What's not to love? Quite a bit, it seems, if you're in the vicinity of a fellow cruiser who hasn't brushed up on proper cruise balcony etiquette.
The first rule to keep in mind is that the "private veranda" you booked isn't as private as you might envision. Other passengers can hear you, and in some cases see you, so be careful what you do, and be mindful of the others nearby. To spare you any embarrassment, here are 10 things not to do on a cruise ship balcony.
No, you should not smoke on a cruise ship balcony. We’re putting this one first because smoking on a cruise balcony can be a serious fire hazard, as well as a good way to bother your neighbors. Many cruise lines prohibit it, but even if you're sailing with a line that hasn't yet banned balcony smoking, keep in mind that it might not be the best idea. Sure, it's a relaxing spot to enjoy some "me" time, but it's unlikely that your cabin neighbors will appreciate having their serene spot overtaken by the smell of wafting smoke. All ships provide designated smoking areas, but if you're on a ship that allows smoking on balconies, you still might want to consider asking your neighbors if they mind.
Check It Out: Cruise Line Smoking Policies
Cruise balconies are for quiet time for most people. Loud music is for the nightclub and the lido deck. Respect the peace and quiet that many of your veranda neighbors crave by using headphones or keeping the volume to a minimum. Remember, too, that even if the volume isn't loud, it still might be loud enough for others to hear, and not everyone likes the same music you do.
Sex on a cruise ship balcony isn't necessarily private. Nearby balconies can see or hear you, and you may be putting on a show for folks in port and possibly even ship security cameras. It's also dangerous. Wonder how someone falls overboard on a cruise? Sex might account for more than a few. Back in 2007, a man allegedly jumped off his veranda in an attempt to rescue his significant other after knocking her overboard while having sex on their balcony. (They survived, but you might not be so lucky.) People have sex on cruise ships. We get it. But you should save it for inside your cabin.
Read More: 10 Things to Do on Cruise Sea Days
Much like the rules when it comes to balcony sex, you are not invisible while sunbathing nude on your balcony. If you're in aft or forward balcony cabins on your cruise, above you could have a better view of your private bits than you realize if you sunbathe sans clothes. Oh, and did we mention the ship’s crew members that wash windows? If perfecting your tan tops the list of vacation activities on your list, be sure to suit up. If you are interested in actually cruising nude, give this story on nude cruises a read for answers to your burning questions.
Of course you should enjoy your balcony. You paid for it, and it's all yours for the duration of your voyage. However, you should still bear in mind that others are in the same boat. Have fun, but keep the noise to a dull roar -- or, better yet, a dull squeak. Be particularly mindful of this late at night and early in the morning. You might like to stay up and toss a few back until the wee hours or wake at the crack of dawn to enjoy an open-air breakfast, but others won't always have schedules that align with yours, and they might be trying to sleep. If you're in need of a good time, head to the lido deck, nightclub, casino or sports bar. You could also test your mettle and sign up for a game show.
Get the Lowdown: 13 Things to Pack for Your Cruise
All kidding aside, your cruise balcony is not the place to play Spiderman. Never climb from balcony to balcony or stand on the railings or veranda furniture -- the last thing you want to do is end up in the water. This is especially important if you have children. Keep an eye on them, and close and lock the balcony door when the veranda's not in use.
Things you might be tempted to toss overboard from your cruise ship balcony: a message in a bottle, that apple core you've got in your hand, gum, the cherry from last night’s drink. But don't do it. Cruise lines have strict rules against throwing anything off the ship. Besides negatively impacting the environment, it can also be dangerous for other passengers if the debris lands on a balcony beside or below yours. The single biggest danger to cruise ships is fire, so cigarette butts should never be tossed overboard. If the wind blows them back onboard, you're asking for trouble.
It seems somewhat logical to hang wet stuff on your cruise ship balcony. Those in-shower clotheslines barely hold anything, which isn't always practical if you're traveling with several people who all want their bathing suits to dry. The reality though, is that humid sea air does little to rid items of water quickly. Plus, when the ship is moving, the damp salty wind across your balcony is in the 20+ MPH range. Even in port, a sudden gust of wind can quickly turn your bikini into a one-piece.
Leaving your cruise ship balcony door ajar is an alluring idea. There's nothing better than a soothing ocean breeze or the sound of water splashing against the side of the ship to lull you to sleep after a long day. The problem is that leaving the veranda door open can mess with the ship's air-conditioning system, wasting energy now and causing you to be uncomfortable later. Plus, if you open your main cabin door while the balcony door is ajar, you'll find yourself trapped in a wind tunnel to beat all wind tunnels -- and it'll send that three-inch stack of spa pamphlets and jewelry sale fliers swirling all over your stateroom.
Learn More: The Ultimate Guide to Cruise Ship Cabins
There’s almost no risk of nighttime intruders coming from your cruise balcony. If your cruise balcony has outdoor lighting, remember to turn it off when you aren't using it. Not only does it waste electricity and possibly keep some people awake, but it can also drown out the view of the night sky that your neighbors were hoping to enjoy.
Updated March 17, 2022