Friday, 23 January 2015

On Deck Decorum tips for cruisers

Cruise holidays have become a favourite travel destination for older couples & retirees looking to explore the world. William Hanson gives his top tips for on deck decorum

Written by William Hanson
CruiseEtti-Jan23-02-176William Hanson Continued interest in cruises amongst both older and younger generations has fueled the creation of a wealth of new groundbreaking ships and destinations, as Quantum of the Seas and exotic destinations the likes of Australasia, China and Japan. But despite technological innovation within the industry, there is a growing sense amongst cruisers that through increasing demand within the industry, something important has been lost in the wake.

Indeed, cruising was once perceived with a towering veneer of formality, but due to the popularity of cruise experiences today, those standards have seemingly drifted further and further overboard as the aura of the all-inclusive holiday has swept the decks of most modern cruise liners. But British cruisers clearly demand a return to more formal occasions, with many feeling that the new 'cruise casual' generation – people sporting flip flops, baseball caps and torn up jeans – is one evolution that has lessened the sophisticated experience once enjoyed on cruise holidays.

In a recent report into the type of decorum passengers would like to see on a cruise ship, 71% of community of cruisers claimed they would most like to see a return to more formal occasions on cruise ships, suggesting that many still fantasize about formal black tie dinners of old. But this overriding desire clearly flows into several different instances of cruise behaviour.

Specifically, looking at other common gripes of the modern cruise experience, 35% claimed they resent having to tip staff after an already expensive holiday, with 67% claiming that passengers that are rude to staff are their biggest irritant. In terms of other common cruise ship grievances, almost half of respondents on's forum claimed they found people that hog sun loungers to be a ruination of the experience, with several claiming that it is over chatty passengers that get them riled up.

So for anyone stuck in cruise etiquette purgatory and in need of direction on how to behave while aboard a cruise ship, we've created a list of tips to observe before departing. This should help guarantee smooth sailing and a very pleasant cruise experience throughout the duration.

1. Tipping Helpful Staff

A tip is optional, and whilst 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. Tips are often automatically included these days, so can be difficult to get out of. However, it is a good idea to reward those that have given you good service with a good tip at the beginning of your trip as they will remember you and treat you even better as a consequence.

2. Travelling With Kids

A quick chat to your children before any 'new' experience for them, like their first cruise, is always helpful. Talk to them about what the expectations are and how much fun it will be for everyone. Set the ground rules out to begin with and manage their expectations. Children always appreciate guidance and knowing it's a more adult environment (unless it is a family cruise liner) should help. Of course, it's important to remember that your children are on holiday too, so pick a ship that has a kids club, let them go wild and simply make them aware of the rules when they're outside.

3. 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 out 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 too. You've probably had too long in the sun anyway...

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Formal Evenings/Dress

Cruising remains an expensive means of travelling the world, and for this reason, many prefer a slightly 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 adhered to and followed to the letter. No one is above the dress code.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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 the 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 it away and enjoy it! 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

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