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Etiquette for modern cruising

January is the time most cruise companies issue their exciting new colourful brochures for the coming season.

Thanks to keen pricing, more and more retired and semi retired people are now booking a cruise. And what a great holiday it can be, with a huge choice of relaxing, educational and energetic cruise options to say nothing of a wealth of overseas venues to visit and explore.

Last year cruise sales increased by an amazing 40% and numbers are expected to grow even more during 2015.

But with so many people now taking to the seas, certain problems are beginning to occur., which is a one stop shop for all things cruising, has undertaken a major survey to discover the common behavioural bugbears in modern cruises.

Interestingly they found that 71% of people going on cruises would like a return to an era of more formality. They also found that over half of passengers go on cruises in the hope of making new friends and many passengers have a problem with the tipping aspects.

To help sort a few things out, has partnered with renowned etiquette expert William Hansom to come up with the following tips for modern day cruising:

Tipping Helpful Staff

A tip is optional, and while you do not have to leave anything behind, many still choose to thank the staff in this way. As with land-based accommodation, if you have stayed for a series of nights then leaving a bit of money in an envelope labelled ‘housekeeping, with thanks’ on your last day is a nice touch and is always appreciated. There may also be a waiter that has been particularly attentive to you and your family during the stay that you may wish to reward. In some cruises, tips are automatically included in the overall cost of the holiday, in which case additional tipping is clearly not needed.

Sunbed Etiquette

It’s a problem that any poolside venue has, and hogging may be fine if there are plenty of empty seats around but if you’ve been on a sunbed since the crack of dawn for hours and hours and there are many people looking lost and unable to find a lounger, then embrace your sharing and caring side and offer them yours. It’s important to remember that they have paid a lot for this experience too, which means you should do your best to accommodate other passengers. You’ve probably had too long in the sun anyway!

Loud Passengers

Passengers who are louder than the liner’s foghorn are intensely grating. If you can’t move away from the culprit then you can politely approach them and with a broad smile ask them if they wouldn’t mind speaking a little quieter. They are being rude in the first place, and so long as you deal with the situation calmly and politely they should have nothing to bite your head off about.

Politeness to Staff

The best way is to lead by example and treat the staff that you meet with the upmost respect, gentleness and courtesy. Give the staff knowing smiles and sympathetic faces if you see them being treated badly so they know that others have seen it. They will be trained to deal with bad customers and if they can’t handle them then their manager will be called.

Formal Evenings/Dress

Cruises differ and some choose a more formal approach, especially in the evenings. It’s therefore always worth doing full research into the cruise you are about to book to see if it meets with your expectations. There’s no point booking a family cruise and then being annoyed that there are no black tie dinners (and vice versa). Any dress code that the ship has should be carefully adhered to and followed to the letter. No one is above the dress code.

People Drinking Too Much

Cruisers’ legs will wobble enough as the ship glides across the ocean, there’s no need to double the wobble by going overboard with the alcohol consumption. Yes, you are there to enjoy yourself but not at the expense of the enjoyment of others. That’s part of the deal with a cruise – it’s not just your holiday, it’s everyone else’s. If you don’t like communal environments then opt for a secluded villa in a remote mountain somewhere.

People Eating More Than Their Share

Yes, it is obnoxious to have multiple main courses at dinner just because it is free, but sadly it is within people’s right on all-inclusive holidays and there’s little you can do about it. Staff will be keeping eyes on supply levels and in really extreme cases should step in. Just make sure to get to the buffet early if you are that worried about missing out, but there is usually a constant and healthy supply.

Being Social

Some will be want to be social, some won’t. Experienced cruisers will know this and will be used to spotting who is there to make friends and who wants to relax and switch off. Neither group is right; neither group is wrong. Pick up on the signals and respect people’s privacy if that’s what they want. That said, even for the hermits on the ship they should still smile, greet and acknowledge other passengers in corridors and communal areas.

Phones at Dinner

Mobile phones at the dinner table are never acceptable – on land, sea or in the air. Switch them off before all mealtimes and focus on the fine food and the human company. The cruise ships that bring in new technology will still have rules about where it is acceptable to use mobiles and other gadgets. Most guilty parties use their phones to take pictures of their meals, which ruins the experience both for them and other passengers. Just put the phone away and enjoy the event! It’s also important to remember that broadband on ships is still extremely expensive, so keeping your various gadgets in your pocket will also save a considerable amount of money.

Queue Jumping

Queue jumping is never acceptable and offenders can be politely informed where the end of the queue is. Hopefully for long queues the ship would have a member of staff policing it, but passengers should not be afraid to confront someone that misbehaves in this way. Chances are that most people will have seen it too, and they’ll be waiting for someone brave to call them out.

People Who Complain

We Brits are not built for perpetual complaining and confrontation. There’s not much you can do with fellow passengers who are out to find fault audibly in everything and in everyone. The best advice is to simply move away from these types of characters, and with the size of modern cruise ships, there’s bound to be another section of the ship you can visit to find the peace and quiet you’re looking for.

There is lots of additional information about cruising on

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