There are many people out there who are really eager to experience all of the unique experiences that a cruise has to offer; however, age old tales of what is and is not acceptable onboard a cruise ship can see travellers having second thoughts about taking their holiday on the high seas. All of the dos and don’ts can be daunting to a first-timer, so here is a simplified guide to cruise etiquette – remember to use it in collaboration with the instructions of whichever cruise operator you are travelling with.
Dressing to impress on a cruise is a very important point – getting it wrong may well lead to the embarrassing spectacle of a staff member asking you to go away and change. Many urban legends make the rounds about those who dared to leave their tuxedos at home, and ended up eating along the entire trip. Evening meals are usually formal events, and formal means black tie and the most formal of frocks (and when we say there is no such thing as overdressed on a cruise, we mean it). However, underdressing is a carnal sin of cruising, so be aware that your shorts and vest tops will get little use. An ‘informal’ event is still very fancy – think your typical Bond cocktail party – with dinner suit and tie essential, and eveningwear for women.
Cruise dining is another area in which there are rules, and your trip and everybody else’s will be made much more pleasant by following them. There is a tendency for all structure and decency to be forgotten at cruise buffets, which can spoil everyone’s time. First things first – follow the direction of the queue and don’t cut in; no hopping between spots to ‘just grab’ a handful of whatever you’re after, and don’t have a nibble while you’re still queueing. The buffet is the place for patience. Do not move tongs from their allocated tray, as it can cause issues for those with allergies or dietary requirements, and do not pick anything up with your bare hands. We have all felt our eyes bigger than our stomachs at some point, but wasting food is not the done thing, so have small portions and only eat what you can manage, remembering to use a clean plate with each new helping. Finally – no doggie bags. Ever. Cruises are luxury enough to have fresh food provided on request, so bagging up leftovers is most certainly not the done thing.
Probably the top stumbling block of the entire cruising industry is tipping. As it stands, tipping is a very relative thing, and different countries and cultures have their own ideas as to what makes a fair tip, and onboard a vessel that values etiquette highly and employs many staff relying on tips, it is important to tip appropriately.
It would be very wise to check with your cruise operator about their particular policies, as everyone is different. Some companies have decided to cut out the hassle of tipping and work it into the cost of the cruise, which saves you the worry of figuring out how much to give and to whom. Other providers opted to allow guests to tip in a ‘gift voucher’ fashion which is charge at the beginning or end of the trip. Some cruises will provide you with tip envelopes and guides to how much to tip for each member of staff. However, the main thing to remember is that you should tip healthily. You are, after all, holidaying in one of the most luxurious ways possible, and being served by people who often work 14- or 16- hour days for low basic wages, so do not skimp. Stories of stingy guests pretending not to know about tipping, and even filling tip envelopes with strips of plain paper to simulate the feeling of bank notes, are abundant and should avoid being added to at all costs.
About the Author: Debbie Stevens.
Debbie oversees the Sales’ Team and assists with coordinating The Cruise Line’s marketing strategy. She has had over 20 years travel experience with various responsibilities and sailed with the Windstar, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea and Hapag-Lloyd amongst others.
For more information on The Cruise Line please visit: http://www.cruiseline.co.uk/