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11 Things Polite Cruisers Do That Help The Crew on a Cruise

When you are on your cruise, there are lots of small things you can easily do that will make the crew’s life easier.

We have all seen guests onboard having a good time, but giving little consideration to anyone else around them. They seem to have no concept of how their behaviour can impact on others.

Below are some of the small, courteous things you can do to help the crew:

#1 Be On Time

If you are booked on an excursion, have set dining times or theatre seats booked, make sure you are there in plenty of time.

It isn’t polite to keep the crew and other guests waiting.

We all know people who always show up late! That isn’t me – I am always early…


It’s annoying for other passengers and the crew if they can’t set off on their excursion because they are waiting for people to arrive at the meeting point.

Often excursions are run on quite tight schedules, so it makes the crew and the tour guide’s job easier if they can start on time.

Tickets to popular attractions may be for entrance at a set time – the guide doesn’t want to spend the whole day playing catch-up!

Once you are on your excursion, the guide will give you a time to be back at the coach – be there!

I remember being on a trip to Loch Ness in Scotland, and we were waiting in the coach/bus for two guests who were late – it was getting hotter and hotter, and the passengers, guide and driver were getting grumpier and grumpier…

Theatre Shows

On many of the bigger ships, you need to book your theatre shows in advance.

If you don’t show up, they will give your seats to people who have shown up without booking, just before the show starts.

You may miss the show altogether if you arrive late, someone else will be given your seat.

I have seen people arguing and making a scene outside the theatre when they have been denied entrance – either because they are too late, or they haven’t booked successfully on the App.

On smaller ships where booking isn’t required, you just go to the theatre at the correct time and find a seat.

There is nothing more annoying for guests and crew than when people wander in late, blocking the view of others, and distracting the performers.

Norwegian Prima Theatre
Norwegian Prima Theatre – booking is required

Set Dining

On some more traditional ships, the dining times are set. There are normally two seatings, and the waiters and chefs carefully plan ahead to make sure everything runs smoothly. Hundreds of meals need to be served at the same time.

If you are a solo traveller or part of a couple you may be asked to table-share with someone you don’t know.

It makes the crew’s life harder if you are late for your seating. Not to mention rude, particularly if you are table sharing and some other guests are waiting for you to start their meal.

I took a traditional cruise with the British cruise line, Fred Olsen. I was very very seasick and didn’t make it to many of the dining room meals.

Find out all about that here:

#2 Keep Your Cabin Reasonably Tidy

Cabin Stewards will be coming into your room once – sometimes twice a day to service your room.

Try to keep the floor and the bed clear of your personal belongings, so they can make your bed without having to move all your things first.

No one expects you to keep your cabin spotless – you are on holiday – but try and show some consideration for the crew.

They have many cabins to service every day, and they work very hard. Thoughtless behaviour on the part of guests can make their job so much harder, and it will take more of their precious time to service the cabin.

norwegian prima balcony cabin
My favourite Norwegian Prima Balcony Cabin – plenty of storage space to keep things tidy.

#3 Don’t Leave Food and Cups Lying Around

If you are ordering room service food – or bringing things back from the buffet, once you have finished eating pile all the crockery and cups, and any leftover food on the table/desk area.

If you put all your used crockery and leftover food in one place, it makes it easier for the crew to pick them up and remove them.

Some guests put their trays and leftovers outside the door of the cabin.

This can be a hazard to people on mobility scooters or with impaired sight or mobility.

royal caribbean breakfast room service fruit doughnuts
Room service on Royal Caribbean. Pile your crockery and leftover food neatly for the crew to collect.

#4 Listen To Annoucements

Often you will hear announcements made when you are onboard.

Important announcements will be piped into your cabin – like those about safety drills or emergencies onboard.

The majority of announcements aren’t important – they may be about the entertainment, weather etc. These aren’t piped into your cabin, you will only hear them whilst out in the public areas of the ship.

If the Captain or crew are making announcements about safety issues, or emergencies onboard – you really should listen!

When I was younger, we sailed to The Bahamas on the Norwegian Sky. In the middle of the night, the Captain announced into all the Cabins, that someone had been lost overboard. He encouraged anyone out on deck or out on their balconies to keep a lookout.

We were in an inside cabin, so there was little we could do to help – but the search continued on into the next day, and other cruise ships came to along to help.

Find out more about that unforgettable incident here:

#5 Respect Lines / Queues

As a British person, I expect to wait in line patiently when the staff are busy.

Standing in line – or “queuing up” as we would say – is part of the British culture.

If you cruise with an Italian cruise line like MSC or Costa in Europe, one of people’s biggest annoyances seems to be that European people ( and this is a generalisation) often don’t stand in line.

They push and shove at the buffet, at Reception, at the Bars – anywhere really.

The last thing the crew needs is passengers falling out and arguing over who is next to be served!

When I was on MSC World Europa, I spotted one guest who had walked past all the “Closed” signs and was helping herself to food from the buffet before it even opened! You don’t want to be that person…

It makes it far easier for the crew if people act with respect for others and follow rules.

Find out more about my cruise on Europe’s biggest ship, World Europa here:

# 6 Don’t Reserve Sunbeds

It can be very annoying on a sunny day when you want to sit on the top decks on a sunlounger – only to see rows and rows of empty sun loungers, covered with books, towels etc – but no one actually using them.

It is hard to know if those guests have just nipped to the bar, or are enjoying themselves in another part of the ship – but want to keep their options open by reserving their sunloungers!

On newer ships with many attractions on the top deck – like Go Kart tracks, climbing walls, water parks, zip lines etc – top deck sunbathing space is at a premium.

Some cruiselines are now taking a tough new stance on sunbed hoggers!

Carnival has a system designed to ensure that all guests are able to enjoy equal access to sun loungers by preventing seat saving in outdoor deck areas. 
Shipboard team members, the ‘ChairShare Team’ monitor sun lounger usage and if they observe a seat that contains a towel or personal belongings (flip-flops, books, etc.) but appears to be unoccupied, a sticker is placed on the chair indicating the time the sticker was placed and when personal items will be removed. If the chair remains unoccupied for 40 minutes, the contents are removed and held for the guest’s safekeeping. 

Carnival Cruise Line

The Crew don’t want to get into altercations with guests when they have removed their belongings from the sun loungers. Nor do they want to break up arguments between guests, who disagree over who’s sunlounger it is…

#7 Don’t Bring Kids To Adult Only Area

Many ships have adult-only areas for guests who want to have some quiet time.

There are often adult-only swimming pools and adult-only bars.

Show some respect and don’t expect to be able to bring your children into these areas.

It puts the crew in an awkward position – and may be upsetting for the child – if they are asked to leave.

#8 Only Smoke In Designated Smoking Area

Cruise ships only allow smoking in designated smoking areas.

These areas are usually up on the top decks, but sometimes ships have cigar lounges, where you can also smoke.

A few cruise lines still allow smoking on cruise ship balconies, but these are in the minority.

If you were caught smoking elsewhere on the ship in most cases the first time you get caught you will get away with a warning.

The cruise line is perfectly within their rights to kick you off the ship if you continue to disregard their rules on smoking.

Again, don’t put the crew in that position. They have smoking rules for good reason. Fires on ships can be very dangerous, the last thing they want is a fire breaking out.

Find out about the fire on Star Princess. It is thought that the fire was started by someone smoking on their balcony – although that was never proved. Watch the video all about that here:

There are a few cruise lines that do still allow you to smoke on your cruise ship balcony.

Find out who they are here:

Cruise Line Balcony Smoking Policies – On These Four Lines You Can Still Smoke On The Balcony

#9 Don’t Take Too Much Food Out Of The Buffet

My perfect cruise breakfast – tea, rolls and a banana.

I often take food out of the buffet to eat in my cabin, particularly on the last night, when I will take a roll and a banana for my breakfast on disembarkation day. I would much rather do that than go to the busy buffet on the last morning!

If I do take other food or drink back to my cabin, it is normally only a plate full – I can keep this cold in the mini bar for later if necessary.

Some people seem to greedily take piles and piles of food back to their cabin, which just ends up getting wasted.

You can take food to eat up on the outside deck or around the pool area, but don’t leave your mess on the floor afterwards for someone else to clean up!

The last thing the crew needs is extra work, cleaning and tidying up your leftovers.

Find out about the four things you should always do on disembarkation day here:

4 Things You Should Always Do on Disembarkation Day

#10 Pack Your Patience!

Sometimes the crew are very busy – through no fault of their own.

If you have to wait a little while for your drinks or your meal, don’t make a fuss! You are on holiday, you are unlikely to be on a tight schedule.

It seems very unfair to take your frustration out on the crew when they are actually working really hard to keep up with the demands put on them.

Someone who should be on duty could be unexpectedly ill, or they might have a problem in the kitchens – you don’t know what is going on behind the scenes, or the pressures they may be under.

The crew do the very best they can with the resources they have available – and if you have a problem, you should take that up with higher management rather than the bartenders and waiters who work so hard.

#11 Sanitise Your Hands

Often you will see crew members outside the buffet with hand sanitiser, encouraging passengers to sanitise before going to the buffet.

They shouldn’t have to nag passengers to sanitise, it is something that you should want to do – for your own health and wellbeing – and for the consideration of everyone else’s.

Don’t make a fuss, and sanitise your hands properly – and often.

It will make so much extra work for the staff if there is an outbreak of Flu or Norovirus onboard. It could be pretty unpleasant for you too, if you are unwell whilst on your cruise!

Find out what happens when people do get sick on cruise ships in the article below:

What Happens if You Get Sick on a Cruise? – Simple Step-by-Step Guide

Some buffets have sink stations – and I loved the automatic hand washers I found on Costa Smeralda were amazing! I would go to the buffet, just to use them!

costa smeralda restaurant buffet hand washing sink
Automatic hand washers on Costa Smeralda – just put your hand in the two holes, and they will be washed and dried to perfection…

The cruise I took onboard Costa Smeralda was quite unlike others I have ever taken. Costa are an Italian cruise line, and it is very different from a British or American cruising experience.

Find out why here:

Before You Go

Find out what cruise ship Captains earn, and what their duties include here:

The Untold Truth About How Much a Cruise Ship Captain Earns (And What They Do)

Find out what people have done to get banned from cruise lines below:

These People Were Banned From Cruise Lines For Life – What Went Wrong?

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.