Before booking a cruise, it is wise to consider some of the top do and do not associated with cruising.
1. Do not pick the wrong cruise. Do take time to research before booking.
2. Do not pick the wrong travel partner.
3. Do not feel the need to eat only at the fancy restaurants. Do take advantage of buffets.
4. Do not neglect the crew. Do take time to familiarize yourself with the staff.
5. Do not forget sunscreen.
There are more than five do and do not to cruising, but those are among the top essential. The do and do not also continue beyond just before booking your dream cruise vacation.
Before You Board
You do not want to make any cruise faux pas, and you want your first cruise to be perfect. So, what are the dos and don’ts on a cruise ship?
While many things are common sense, experienced cruisers can give you tips on the do and do not you would not otherwise think of. These can save you time, money, and huge headaches, not to mention help make your cruise experience amazingly better.
We have broken our list of dos and do not into three categories relating to pre-boarding and preparations, tips while you’re on the high seas, and final things to not forget before you disembark. We cover everything from practical advice to some pointers about finding that special someone.
Do research your cruise. Experienced cruisers say there is a cruise for everyone. Are you interested in the cruise experience itself on a luxury liner, or are you more of the excursion type who wants to prioritize destinations and excursion options?
Do not plan to arrive at your embarkation point the same day your cruise leaves. Buses and cars can get a flat tire. Flights can be delayed, but regardless, the cruise ship will not wait for you to arrive unless you have booked your flight through the cruise company. To prevent sad scenes like pier runners arriving at the port only to see their cruise ship sailing into the sunset, many cruise companies will offer packages that include the option for dinner or even a night’s stay in a hotel the day before you depart.
Do not go on a cruise if you have a highly contagious illness. If you arrive at the embarkation point showing signs of sickness, there is a good chance they will not let you on. Cruise companies screen passengers for illnesses, and if you are flagged, you will get a quick medical checkup before you join the rest of the passengers. If you are worried about getting sick before your cruise, the best thing to do is buy travel insurance covering medical cancellations.
Do bring your passport. Even if you technically do not need it, you never know what can happen. You might go on an excursion, forget to check the time, and get stranded in a foreign country. You might get sick and need to be medevacked to the nearest hospital. Keep your options open.
Do take advantage of online check-in. It can save you hours waiting in line.
Do bring sea sickness medication. You can find this for sale onboard, but you will save a lot if you plan. The same goes for your swimsuit.
Do not bring a clothes iron on board. They will confiscate it at the outset and give it back to you when you disembark. Onboard fire is one of the most serious risks cruise companies do their utmost to minimize.
Do put your phone in airplane mode before you set sail. Otherwise, you might rack up a triple or even quadruple-digit roaming charge. If you go to an onboard service desk, the staff can check your phone to make sure it is not incurring extra roaming charges.
In 2018, a boy surprised his parents when they got a phone bill for roughly $13,600 because he had downloaded less than half a gigabyte of data slightly while at sea on a cruise. Even if you think you know your phone plan, it is best to double-check with your carrier about coverage in international waters. Some phone companies even offer cruise plans, in addition to those that are available for purchase onboard.
Do not forget to make reservations at the kid’s clubs. Going on a cruise with your family can be a great experience, made even more so by having some special time away from the kids who will be entertained at the onboard children’s clubs. It would be best if you remembered to book space for those in advance. Otherwise, it is first-come-first-served, and many like-minded parents are also looking forward to some kid-free time alone in the cabin or at a nice restaurant.
Do price out a drink package before you buy it. Do the math and add up how much you would have to drink to make it pay off. Factor in how many days in a row you can pace yourself, along with variables like potential seasickness, a queasy stomach from eating food you’re not used to, and the days spent on shore excursions away from the ship.
Do not try and bring alcohol on board. Cruise companies do not allow it, and they screen for it. If you must bring alcohol on board, take the advice of long-time experienced cruisers: “The best way to bring alcohol onboard a cruise ship is in your stomach.” You can bring as many cigarettes as you want.
Do not bring devices that can play music loud. You will get in trouble, and you do not need to; there are plenty of places all over the ship where you can find DJs playing loud music. Do not be noisy in general in the passenger quarters.
Do not expect it to be like The Love Boat. Romance is never far away on a vacation cruise for couples who came aboard together. If you are single, you might find it more difficult than you thought to meet someone in the same boat. Cruzely published the results of a survey they did in 2017 that found only 5.5 percent of passengers reported getting frisky with someone they met onboard a cruise.
Do not send your non-potty-trained child into the pool. Accidents will cause it to be closed until it is cleaned and disinfected. Keep in mind that most cruise lines do not allow non-potty-trained kids into the pool, even with swim diapers, and often have the minimum age limit set at two years old.
Do not try and skip the lifeboat “muster” drill. Staff comes around to every stateroom to make sure no one is hiding. If they catch you trying to dodge out, they have the option to kick you off the boat.
Do not blame the cruise company for bad weather on your vacation, and do not expect a bad-weather refund. This is specially written into the terms and conditions of your ticket.
Do not try and get too close to the crew. The saying goes that a crew member who is found to be having intimate relations with a passenger will get chicken or beef. “That’s what a flight attendant asks you when you’re put on the first flight home.” Says veteran cruise director Dru Pavlov featured in a 2018 Bloomberg article about industry secrets.
Do not be in a rush at the buffet, or anywhere else for that matter. Some people get annoyed at those who cut the line and dart between others for single food items. And when you are at the buffet, use the tongs provided instead of touching food with your hands. You might gross other passengers out, but more importantly, you might be spreading a contagious bug around. Cruise ships are incredibly rigid about hygiene for a good reason. If someone reports that you are touching the food with your hands, you will not get a talking to from the dining staff; you will be contacted by security.
Do not reserve deck chairs with a towel and then not sit in them. This might seem like a minor issue, but it is something that irks many passengers. Some cruise companies will even have deck officers patrol the chairs and put a time-stamped sign on those occupied by something non-human. If you do not sit in the chair within 45 minutes, your items will be bagged and sent to the lost-and-found.
Do not spend all your money at the casino. There is always someone who does. In an article for Yahoo Travel, a former cruise ship doctor told the story about a man who had gone on a cruise to help him get over an incredibly hard breakup. During a night of depression, he went to the casino and lost a couple of thousand dollars. Feeling despondent, he went from the casino to the front of the ship, where he jumped off, falling eight stories until he hit the water. Luckily, a crew member saw him go over and immediately radioed the captain, who took evasive measures to avoid sucking him through the propeller. The man was rescued and survived.
Do keep track of the time. You are always on ship time unless told otherwise. The time zone may have changed and be different when you are on a shore excursion, but your ship will depart at the scheduled ship time.
Before You Disembark at The End of Your Cruise
Do return all the things you have checked out before you disembark. Cruise companies keep track of everything from pool towels to onboard cell phones, and they will charge you for anything that is missing. Even the little things can add up.
Do not forget to clean out your stateroom safe. Ironically, people are prone to forget their most valuable possessions in their safes because they do not use them during the cruise.
Last but certainly not least, do remember that you are on vacation. Do not hurry; enjoy yourself!