Cruise-ship etiquette reaches beyond proper attire and not fraternizing with the staff, and many of these points are things you wouldn’t necessarily consider to be improper. So whether you consider yourself a seasoned sea traveler or this is your first experience on a cruise, being privy to these obscure guidelines and things you should NEVER do while cruising the seas will make your vacation experiences the dream you always envisioned it would be.

Oops Where’s My Passport

This one seems like it would be common sense, however not everyone thinks of a cruise the same way they do when flying to a foreign country. While you can go on a cruise without your passport, it does require the right paperwork to do so, not to mention if you get left at a foreign port you will definitely need your passport to fly back home.

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To be on the safe side and avoid any hiccups, keep your passport and government issued ID on you. Your boarding and travel will be seamless if you don’t skip this simple step.

Take Reckless Selfies

Sadly this is common, many people lose their sense of safety when they are traveling to the destination of their dreams. Don’t get lost in the scenery, I promise there isn’t a selfie or Tik Tok post that is worth risking your health over.

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Royal Caribbean keeps it pretty straight forward : “Sitting, standing, jumping, laying or climbing on, over or across any exterior or interior railings or other protective barriers is strictly prohibited” and they have zero qualms strictly enforcing their policies.

Discard Yourself Or Anything Else Overboard

No littering also applies when cruising the vast ocean, this point also seems like another common sense subject, but unfortunately common sense just isn’t all that common.

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The crew of the ships take this extremely seriously, passengers that break the strictly enforced rule have been subjected to fines, and in more severe situations even asked to leave the cruise at the port.

Have Relations With Staff Member

This one may be a bit more difficult for some, but every cruise line has very strict policies about not fraternizing with the staff, and staff knows that there is a zero tolerance policy for having relations with passengers.

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Crew members are not allowed to have physical relationships with passengers. Cruise lines even go so far as to prohibit staff from being in the staterooms unless there to perform their shipboard duties, equally passengers are restricted from entering “crew member only” sections of the ship.

Drone Flying

You are allowed to bring your drone with you aboard, however don’t expect to be allowed to use it while sailing the seas.

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There are strict conditions with the use of drones, Carnival and Royal Caribbean are currently the only cruise lines that allow the use of them and there are conditions. Royal Caribbean doesn’t allow passengers to fly them while aboard the ship, nor do they allow the use of them while docked at their private destinations. Carnival will only allow the use of camera drones, so perhaps it’s best to just leave the drone alone at home.

Buffet Food Only

The buffet experience is definitely one that needs to be had while on a cruise, but they are often crowded and they aren’t the only option for dining.

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Don’t take the main dining room for granted, give yourself time to experience the luxuries of both menus.

Conceal Contagious Illness

This couldn’t be a more obvious point, but not everyone understands the severity of bringing a communicable illness onto a ship with hundreds, if not thousands, of people onboard in close quarters.

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If you present with even mild symptoms it is your responsibility, and the expectation of the cruise liner, to return to your stateroom and let the medical personnel onboard know what’s going on. If you choose to go against this policy and you’re caught you could be fined, or even banned.

Carry Drugs Onboard

Just because it’s legal in the state where you live doesn’t mean that it is permitted on the cruise. Save yourself the headache and leave even the CBD gummies at home.

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Attempting to smuggle any type of drugs onboard could end with you being arrested or even banned for life.

Forgetting A Day Bag

Do yourself a favor and pack a carry on day bag along with your checked bag. Much like flying, you may not have access to your main luggage in a prompt time frame, and you don’t want to be stuck without any of your essentials.

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So if there is something specific you need, like medication, or a change of clothes, it’s best to have a small carry on bag on hand.

Hogging Chairs

Everyone is there for the same reason, to relax poolside and enjoy the fresh ocean air. Don’t be stingy with the chairs, and only reserve what you will actually be using.

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Remember that you aren’t the only one there to enjoy their vacation, so if you think that setting a towel down with your belongings and walking away is going to fare in your favor, you are sadly mistaken. Save everyone the upset and hassle, use it or move it.

Buying Art

The onboard art auctions are definitely a draw for many passengers, it’s fun and exciting, but it may not be the best place to buy a piece of art.

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Make sure you do your research ahead of time before attending these auctions. The Wi-Fi is spotty and makes it hard to do research on-the-fly. There has been a lot of controversy on the authenticity of the pieces auctioned on cruises, and whether or not the pricing is correct.

Vaping In Your Room Without Permission

Just like smoking a cigarette, vaping is typically not permitted in any of the ship’s indoor spaces.

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Although restricted areas may vary depending on the cruise line. Oceania and Seabourn allow guests to vape while in their suites, while most other cruise lines only allow vaping in open outdoor spaces.

Shop To Early

Make sure you don’t jump the gun and go shopping right away. While window shopping is encouraged in the early days of your travel, loading up right away isn’t.

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Why you may ask? Because there is a good possibility that you might find a cheaper option while pursuing the shops at an on shore destination, there is also a good possibility that the item may be on sale towards the end of the cruise.

Paying For Expensive Drinks

If you think that you will be enjoying more than just a few cocktails while aboard, do yourself a solid and get the drink package ahead of time. The initial sticker price may be off putting, but the one off purchases of onboard drinks adds up to far more in the end.

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Also, be sure to check out the onboard daily drink specials, captain cocktail parties, and happy hour options.

Wearing Inappropriate Attire

There are a lot of finite details when it comes to what is and isn’t appropriate attire with each of your cruise destinations. So before you pack your bags look into what is expected.

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Typically a cruise line will help you out in this department, Royal Caribbean’s website has references that state “Please note camouflage print clothing and accessories, as well as military-style clothing, is illegal in Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. This style of clothing is reserved only for members of the military at these destinations.” Just look into it before you head off into the sunset, you will only make your travel experience more enjoyable by doing so.

Assume Seasickness Won’t Affect You

Having sea legs on a huge cruise ship is typically a much different experience than that of a smaller boat.

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So even if you consider yourself to be a seasoned vet of the seas, bring your patches, wristbands, and medicines just in case. Better to be safe than sorry.

Avoiding Mandatory Safety Drills

With the advances in technology you can access the mandatory safety drills of the ship from the comforts of your stateroom, these drills go over emergency procedures and where you can access life saving vests, and escape routes.

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If you decide that you are above the drill and miss the 24-hour deadline to complete it you will be asked to exit the ship at the next port, cutting your dream vacation extremely short.

Being Late to Board

Being promptly on time isn’t really a loose request when it comes to cruises, they run an extremely tight ship, and showing up anytime after the expected time is considered unacceptable.

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If you think you are under the impression that you can just mosey on your back even a few minutes later, you may very well find yourself standing on the dock without a ship to board. Just ask the passengers who have had to fly back home after being left at port for being late to reboarding after an excursion.

Bringing Your Own Alcohol Onboard

You wouldn’t be the first passenger to think that they can pull one over on staff and snake in a little alcohol of their own. Crew members have seen it all, rum flasks, shampoo and conditioner bottles filled with vodka, and more.

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The cruise liners have strict alcohol policies, Royal Caribbean’s policy clearly states, “Guests who violate any alcohol policies, (over consume, provide alcohol to people under the legal drinking age, demonstrate irresponsible behavior, or attempt to conceal alcoholic items at security and or luggage check points or any other time), may be disembarked or not allowed to board, at their own expense.” Bottom line, just don’t break the rules! Come prepared to follow the rules, everything from alcohol policies to pool side chair etiquette, going against the grain on any of these is only going to ruin your trip and possibly create a disturbance for other passengers.