50 Unspoken Rules of Cruising All Cruisers Need to Know

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Cruises are a lot of fun, but there are some rules all cruisers need to follow. From cruise etiquette to safety onboard, there are some unwritten and unspoken rules of cruising that everyone should know!

Whether you’re an experienced cruiser, or a new cruiser, there are some common sense best practices that cruise travelers may not be aware of.

In this post, I share some common and lesser known cruise rules and do’s & don’ts. This includes the unspoken rules of cruise cabins, balconies, the cruise ship buffet, cell phones, cruising with kids, the elevator and the lido deck.

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50 Unwritten Cruise Rules, Do’s & Don’ts

Cell Phone Etiquette


A few years ago, cruisers didn’t really use their cellphones much during their vacation. However, times have changed and it is very common for cruisers to get a wifi package.

There is some mobile phone etiquette to be mindful of when in public on a cruise.

1. Calling in Public Spaces

If you’re in a public space, be mindful of others and don’t call people on speaker. When your phone is on speaker, everyone can hear your conversation and it can disturb other cruisers.

If you want to FaceTime or call your loved ones back home, it’s best to go to a private space or your cabin. This way you will have privacy and other cruisers will not be bothered.

2. Don’t Use a Cell Phone During a Show

When you’re in the theatre watching a show, don’t go on your cellphone. Whether you’re answering a text message, scrolling on Facebook or looking at photos, your phone screen will disturb others, especially in a dark theatre.

Cruise Ship Balcony Watch-outs

Balcony Cabin on a Cruise Ship

If you have a cruise ship balcony cabin, there are a few rules that you should be aware of.

3. Don’t Play Loud Music

Never play your music loudly on your balcony. Most cruise lines allow passengers to listen to music on a Bluetooth speaker on their own balcony. However, the music shouldn’t be so loud that it disturbs others.

4. Don’t Peak Into Your Neighbor’s Balcony and Cabin

An unwritten rule of cruising, is to not crane your neck around the partition to look onto other people’s balconies and cabins. It’s nice to chat with your neighbor and say hello if they seem friendly, but try not to be invasive.

5. Don’t Leave Your Clothing and Other Items on the Balcony

Leaving clothing and other items on your balcony is a bad idea. Not only can it blow away into the sea, but it is also a potential fire hazard.

6. Don’t Slam You Balcony Door

Since it can be windy on a cruise, it is possible that your balcony door can slam shut. Do your best to avoid this from happening, as it can be disturbing to others.

7. Avoid Creating a Wind Tunnel

When you open your stateroom door and balcony door at the same time, it can create a wind tunnel. This will create a lot of noise, wind and it normally ends with your stateroom door being slammed shut.

Do your best not to open your balcony door and cabin door at the same time.

Cruise Cabin and Hallway Do’s & Don’ts


When it comes to the cabins and hallways, there are a few do’s and don’ts.

8. Connecting Cabins

Avoid booking connecting cabins when you have an option. Connecting cabins are great for families with children, but best avoided otherwise.

Connecting cabin walls tend to be quite thin, so you’ll be able to hear the passenger’s conversations and other sounds with this type of stateroom.

9. Don’t Slam Your Cabin Door

Cruise cabin doors are very heavy, so it can be very easy to slam your door as you are leaving your cabin. This can be disturbing to your neighbours, so try to be courteous and close your door softly.

10. Talk Quietly in the Hallways

Make sure that you talk quietly in the hallways, especially early in the morning or late at night. When the hallways are empty, it can be easy to talk loud and forget about your fellow cruise passengers in their staterooms.

11. Don’t Stop in the Middle of Hallways and Stairways

If you’re in the middle of a hallway or a stairway, do your best not to stop. Stopping in the middle of a narrow hallway or stairway can create a “traffic jam” and it can be hard for other passengers to get around you.

If you need to stop, try to move over to the side so the other cruise passengers can get around you.

12. Room Service Trays

Leaving your room service trays in the hallway is a controversial topic among cruisers. Some cruise lines will say to leave your tray in your cabin, while others will say to leave your room service trays in the hallway.

If you’re not sure what to do, you can simply ask your cabin attendant and they will tell you what is preferred.

Lido Deck Rules & Best Practices

Virgin Voyages pool on cruise

On the lido deck or pool deck, there is some cruise etiquette that every cruiser should know.

13. Don’t Be a Chair Hog

Something that is very common on cruise ships, is people saving deck chairs for long periods of time. In some cases, they may have reserved the loungers with towels from as early as 6 or 7 am!

Now, it’s no secret that it can be hard to find a lounge chair, especially during a sea day. However, it’s the rule on most cruise lines to not leave chairs unoccupied for more than 30 minutes.

Since chairs are a precious commodity, try not to save chairs for others, especially for hours on end.

14. Don’t Stay Too Long In the Hot Tubs

When it comes to the hot tubs, try not to overstay your welcome. There is nothing wrong with going in the hot tub for 30 minutes (or even longer).

However, hot tubs on cruise ships are small and they can get very busy. It is nice to also be considerate of the other passengers.

15. Always Wear Flip Flops on The Pool Deck

On a sunny day, the lido deck can get very hot. It’s essential to wear flip flops, sandals, or water shoes on the pool deck – or else your feet will get burned!

This rule doesn’t effect those around you, but it can definitely save you from a lot of pain and discomfort.

Related: 12 Things to Never Do on a Cruise Ship Lido Deck

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Elevator Etiquette

There are only a few elevators on cruise ships, so elevator use can be frustrating for many cruisers.

Here is everything you need to know about the unwritten rules and etiquette for elevators on cruise ships.

16. Try to Take the Stairs (when you can)

If you’re capable of taking the stairs, then try to use them instead of taking the elevator. Since there are a lot of passengers onboard a cruise ship, the elevators can fill up quickly and take long to come.

A nice little bonus of taking the stairs, is that you will burn some of those calories!

One thing to remember is that it’s not always obvious if someone has a reason not to take the stairs and there’s no judgement either way.

17. Let People Out Before Going In

This is pretty common practice, but if you’re not aware, you should always let cruisers out of the elevator before going in.

18. Be Courteous

If people have pressed the elevator before you, be courteous and allow them to get on before you. Also, be courteous to people who are in wheelchairs, mobility scooters and have strollers.

If you can, try to hold the button, so the door does not close on them.

19. Don’t Push Into a Full Elevator

If the elevator is full, just wait for the next one. The last thing you want to do, is push into the elevator that is full of people.

20. Don’t Pass Gas in The Elevators

This shouldn’t need to be said, but don’t pass gas in the elevator. It’s a small space with little ventilation.

Related: 17 Rookie Mistakes First Time Cruisers Should Avoid

Cruising With Kids Do’s and Don’ts


If you’re cruising with kids, here are a few do’s and don’ts to be aware of.

21. Don’t Let Your Kids Push All of The Buttons in The Elevators

If you’re cruising with young kids, make sure to tell them not to push all of the buttons in the elevators. This is something kids like to do and it can be very annoying to other passengers.

22. Supervise Your Children

When your kids are not in the kids club, it’s important to supervise your children. Even though cruises are safe, accidents can happen.

In particular, parents should pay close attention when children are in the pool and splash zones. Some cruise ships do have lifeguards, adult supervision is required.

23. Don’t Allow Children to Run in the Dining Room

Whether if it’s in the main dining room, cruise ship buffet or a specialty restaurant, make sure that your kids aren’t running between tables playing a game of tag.

This can be dangerous as waiters are often carrying several plates of food, and this can cause an accident. Beyond this, it’s disturbing to crew and passengers alike.

24. Be on Time for the Kid’s Club Pick Up

If your kids are in the kids club, it’s important that you pick them up on time. Check the hours of operation, which may be different on sea days versus port days.

If you’re not sure when the kids club closes, you can either ask the crew members or check your cruise line app.

25. Be Quiet in The Hallways

Make sure that you remind your kids to be quiet in the hallways, whether you’re with them or they’re on their own.

26. No Climbing

If you are cruising with children, make sure that they know to never climb the cruise ship railings and patio furniture.

Related: The Best Kid-Friendly Cruises

General Cruise Etiquette


Most people on cruises will be nice and easy to get along with, but there are some things you can do to avoid any potential issues.

27. Don’t Talk About Politics and Religion

Avoid talking about politics and religion, especially with people you just met. These are touchy subjects that can result in arguments and it’s best to avoid these subjects when you’re on vacation.

28. Greeting Fellow Passengers and Crew

When you’re walking through common areas or the hallways, it is nice to say hi, smile or nod to other cruise passengers and crew.

29. Avoid Bragging About Loyalty Status

Something avid or repeat cruisers do that can rub people the wrong way, is bragging about loyalty status.

Of course, it’s great to talk about your experiences and many times people will ask. However, talking constantly about how many cruises you’ve been on and bragging about your loyalty rewards can annoy other cruisers.

30. Constant Complaining

Nobody likes a big complainer, especially when they are on vacation. It’s normal to have some things that you don’t like, but try not to complain constantly about everything.

People are on vacation, and most passengers just want to have a good time.

31. How Much Did You Pay?

Another faux-pas to avoid is asking other guests how much they paid for their cruise. The price of a cruise can fluctuate based on many factors, including residency, loyalty status, promotions and more.

It’s just not polite to ask others what their cruise cost. If they’ve paid more than you, they’ll be a bit annoyed. However, there can be many reasons for this, and it’s best to avoid asking about prices and finances.

Be Polite to the Crew

crew on cruise serving drink

The crew works very hard on a cruise and it’s important to always be polite. Here are the unwritten rules for dealing with the crew members.

32. Don’t Remove Tips

Tipping is a personal decision and the topic can be controversial. However, it’s an unwritten rule for many cruisers to not remove automatic gratuities.

Unfortunately doing so does affect the hardworking cabin attendants, waiters and staff who work behind the scenes.

If you do want to pay cash to specific cruise ship crew or do prepaid gratuities, these are options.

Related: 13 Big Tipping Mistakes To Never Make on a Cruise

33. Issues and Complaints

If you have an issue or complaint on a cruise, try and talk to the crew member. If not possible, bring it up to guest services or a supervisor who can help to find a solution.

Related: How to Save Money on a Cruise: 27 Tips, Tricks & Hacks

Cruise Ship Buffet Etiquette

Buffet on a cruise

Many cruise passengers will dine casually at the cruise ship buffet. Here are some do’s and don’ts, along with some helpful cruise tips.

34. Cover Up

When you’re entering the cruise ship buffet, make sure that you wear a cover-up over a swimsuit. This can be a swimsuit cover up or a top and shorts.

Also, be sure to wear shoes or sandals in the buffet. The floors can be slippery and this is a safety issue.

Related: 25 Gorgeous Swimsuit Cover Ups for a Cruise

35. Wash Your Hands

Be sure to use hand washing stations as you enter the buffet, or the hand sanitizer. This will help everyone to avoid getting sick on a cruise.

36. Use the Correct Serving Utensils

When you’re in the buffet line, make sure that you use the right serving utensils. If you mix the serving utensils it can cross contaminate, which can cause a problem for those with allergies or dietary requirements.

37. Don’t Eat as You Go

No matter how hungry you are, avoid eating your meal while you are in line at the buffet.

Instead of eating as you go, just fill up you plate and eat at a table.

38. Tables

During busy times of the day, it can be hard to find an empty table at the cruise ship buffet. However, there’s nothing wrong with asking others if you can sit at their table. In fact, many people do this.

So if you see a table for 6 and only two people are sitting, don’t be afraid to ask if you can sit with them.Most of the time people are very nice and this won’t disturb them.

39. Take a New Plate

If you just ate and you’re still hungry, there is nothing wrong with getting yourself another plate. The only thing is, that you should grab a new plate instead of using the old one.

It is more sanitary and hygienic to grab a new plate, then to use the one that you just ate on.

The same logic also applies to cups and mugs. Always take a new cup or glass when using dispensers.

Cruise Ports of Call Watch Outs

40. Stay on Your Ship’s Time

Make sure that your watch or phone is on the ship’s time. The last thing you want is to have the wrong time, and for your cruise to leave without you.

41. Never Be Late for Your Cruise

If you’re late for your cruise, the cruise ship will leave without you. Make sure that you are always back on the cruise ship with time to spare.

Related: 11 Best Reasons to Stay on the Cruise Ship When in Port

Drink Package

free at sea drinks on a Norwegian cruise beverage package

42. The Beverage Package Drink Limit Is Not a Challenge

Some cruise line drink packages have a limit of 15 drinks per passenger. Now, this is not a challenge to try and drink 15 drinks a day.

You don’t want to feel ill or misbehave because you are too intoxicated.

Related: 13 Big Drink Package Mistakes Not to Make on a Cruise

Gym and Walking Track Etiquette

43. Clean Your Weights and Machines

When you’re done using the weights or workout machines at the cruise ship fitness centre, make sure that you disinfect them. Also, if there are towels, be sure to use them as it creates a more sanitary workout environment.

44. Jogging and Walking Track

When on the cruise ship jogging/walking track, there are a few things to know.

If you are walking, stay on the right side so joggers can pass on your left. You will also want to walk in the same direction as everyone else (usually counter clockwise).

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Casino Etiquette

45. Do Not Sit On a Chair if Your Aren’t Playing

If the cruise ship casino is busy, don’t sit on a chair or at a slot machine if you are not playing. This is a big pet peeve for those who love to spend time in the casino.

Cruise Ship Entertainment Etiquette

46. Arriving Late

If you arrive at a show after it has already begun, take a seat in the back. It’ best not to try to walk in the front.

Not only can it disturb others, but if you’re going into the comedy show, there’s a good chance you may get called out.

Cruise Lingo

47. Don’t Call a Cruise Ship a Boat

don't call cruise ship a boat - cruise ship

Cruise lingo is real. There are some things that are some things to say and not to say on a cruise. One of those things is not to call a cruise ship a boat.

It sounds like a joke, but this will get a reaction from both passengers and crew.

Related: The Ultimate Cruise Lingo Glossary – 85 Terms You Need to Know

48. Know Your Port vs Starboard

It can be hard to navigate a cruise ship, especially when it comes to remembering the difference between port and starside. Port is the left side of the cruise ship, when facing forward. Starboard is on the right.

Here’s an easy way to remember: PORT has 4 letters, like LEFT. STARBOARD has more than 4 letters, like RIGHT.

There are a few other fun ways too, but you get the idea!

Video: Unwritten Rules of Cruising

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Final Thoughts on Unspoken Rules of Cruising All Cruisers Need to Know

Whether you’re an experienced cruiser or a first timer, it’s important to know the unspoken rules about cruising. Knowing these rules and understanding cruise etiquette will lead to a pleasant and hassle free cruise.

Are there any unspoken rules that I didn’t mention? Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Cruising!


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  1. Ted bedsole
    June 18, 2023 / 1:25 pm

    Keep walkers in your cabin not in hallway

  2. Rikki
    June 21, 2023 / 6:52 pm

    When my kids were little, whenever we were travelling and stayed at a hotel, we didn’t cruise with them, we played a game called “Sneaky Ninjas.” The purpose of Sneaky Ninjas was to get from the stairs or elevator as quietly as possible. If the Ninja was too loud, he or she would get “caught” and the mission compromised. The quietest Ninja would get a prize- often times a hug or high five. So long as they tried, they always got a “Well done. No one knows that there are Ninjas about.”

  3. Kim
    June 23, 2023 / 10:23 pm

    Sorry but you forgot to mention not smoking on the balcony. I know it’s a rule but I have found that some people don’t follow it!

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