Cruise Tips First Time Cruisers Steering Clear of a Nightmare: 14 Tips for What Not to Do...

Steering Clear of a Nightmare: 14 Tips for What Not to Do on a Cruise

Whether you're preparing for your first cruise or you're a seasoned cruiser, read up on these important tips for what not to do before and during the cruise.

Exhausted from work or school? It’s time for an adventure! Before you book another flight, why not take a step back and consider a cruise trip instead? The cruise industry is on a rise and there’s no better time than now to give it a try.

That said, you’ll want to avoid some common mistakes. Don’t worry, we won’t leave you guessing. Read up on important tips for what not to do before and during your cruise right here.

1. Getting Drunk 

Don’t forget that you can’t bring liquor to a cruise ship. You can only drink what they offer and sell. That said, don’t get drunk while onboard!

First off, getting drunk could lead to a horrible experience at sea. Despite what movies show, drinks and a moving ship don’t go well together. You could spend a long while vomiting due to seasickness.

Second, you could cause chaos and disruption for the other folks around you. This especially concerns the people grouped with you at the main dining hall. You don’t want to ruin their dinner by arriving intoxicated.

Third, getting drunk onboard means you might fall asleep through several activities. While sobering up, the other passengers might go out for shore excursions or participate in activities and parties. You don’t want to miss out on these activities — you paid to be there, after all!

2. Being Rude to the Crew

If you’re having a hard day, think about the crew. They live on that ship and spend more days at sea than you. They have to work hard to keep things organized and to make sure hundreds of passengers get what they need and want.

Be considerate and don’t be rude to the crew. Don’t reduce tips and avoid arguing with them, even when they commit a few mistakes. Their work demands a lot of them, after all. 

Treat them like people! Ask about their day but don’t interrupt them too much from their work. Remember their names, smile when you meet them, and always try to organize things a bit instead of leaving a big mess for them to clean.

3. Splurging Cash in Onboard Shops

Most cruises feature onboard shops. You might even get on a cruise with a whole shopping district or a built-in mall. However, you should fight the urge to splurge all your cash on these stores.

Shops Onboard Quantum of the Seas
Shops Onboard Quantum of the Seas (Photo: Emrys Thakkar)

Take into consideration that many cruise stores raise item prices. In many ways, they boost prices up similarly to airlines. A can of soft drinks could cost twice as much as they would at a vending machine.

If you want to save money, spread how and where you spend. While onboard the ship, only spend on the items you need. This guarantees you can save the bulk of your onhand cash on souvenirs, tours, and local shops at each port stop. 

4. Underestimating the Buffet

Don’t assume that the buffet isn’t good enough. Some people skip the main dinner, hoping to eat only enough at the buffet. However, these people quickly discover that the buffer can quickly become overwhelming with all the food offered.

Keep in mind that most cruise buffets offer a variety of cuisine. You might discover European seafood dishes, American steaks, Japanese rice meals, and more. It might become too tempting to give everything a try and you’ll never get to experience eating in the main dining room!

5. Avoiding Muster Drills

Don’t know what not to do on a cruise? How about missing the muster drill? The ship’s crew offers this at the beginning of the trip. It’s a quick tutorial meant to teach everyone the emergency procedures. Without it, you’ll never know where the exits are, how to put on a life vest, and the protocol for getting on an escape raft.

Lifeboat drill
Lifeboat Drill

Make sure you attend these drills, even if you’re a cruise veteran! There could always be new things to learn.

You should learn how to properly wear a life jacket, how to get on board a lifeboat, how to use rescue whistles, and where all the emergency exits are. 

Keep in mind that cruise ships mandate attendance. By law, they have to conduct these drills and they demand all passengers to follow suit. It’s for your safety, after all, so why hide in your cabin and skip on an important part of your journey? If you try to hide, you could get kicked off.

6. Improper Packing and Planning

Packing is a common issue for people going on cruises. The rule of thumb is to only bring what you can carry, meaning one small luggage and a carry-on bag. 

Don’t pack your documents and other essentials in your luggage. Put those, along with your ID, in your carry-on bag. This ensures you can easily bring them out in case the crew asks for identification or tickets.

Bring extra clothing, especially for water-activities. Bring toiletries, a power bank, your phone, and extra ID’s. If you’re on a long cruise, make sure you bring appropriate clothing for formal dinners, activities 

7. Waiting Too Long for Excursions

Arguably some of the most exciting bits about cruises are the port stops. Your cruise ship might dock for a day or two at a port, giving you time to hit the town and go for a few adventures.

Some people make the mistake of waiting until the last day before going on a shore excursion. By then, you might not have enough time to experience all the available activities. Other excursions might not be available on the last day.

Even if all the excursions are available and even if you could squeeze them all in one day, would you want to exhaust yourself this way? Most excursions are pretty tiring so it’s best to space them out during the available schedule at the port. Give yourself some time to relax back at your cabin.

8. Littering

One of the biggest things not to do on a cruise is to throw something overboard. Littering is a big deal on a ship because you’re directly polluting the sea, affecting marine wildlife.

How strict are a ship’s crew in regards to littering? One man got kicked off a cruise for flicking a cigarette butt into the open ocean. The ship’s captain further explained that there was the risk of the cigarette flowing back and causing a fire hazard. The bottom line: don’t throw anything over the side!

9. Winging It

Another important mistake to avoid is winging your whole cruise. Don’t book a cruise and not plan. If you have time, make sure you plot out the whole trip so you don’t waste a single day at sea or the port.

Cruise Ship Deck
Cruise Ship Deck

What should you list down on your itinerary? First, make sure you know where the cruise ship will go and which ports it will dock at. Cruise ships always post their schedule so it shouldn’t be impossible to know how many days you have each port town. 

The next step is to look at all the events and activities on the cruise ship. Try to work a schedule so you can attend the ones that excite you the most. 

From there, check all the port stops. Look for a list of shore excursions and then compare how much time each activity consumes and how much they cost. This should help you plan out all your activities for each stop. 

If you want a little bit of spontaneity, put that in your schedule too. Leave an hour or two blank so you can roam wild and discover things on your own.

10. Not Bringing Portable Fun

Even with a well-planned schedule, there will be times where you’ll be back in your cabin doing nothing. These might be the times to rest or to get away from the bustle of a busy cruise schedule. During these times, you should have a few gadgets or games with you to still have some fun.

Bring a book or download a few movies on your phone. Don’t rely on online streaming because connections are always spotty on a cruise trip. If you’re into video games, make sure to bring something portable like a Nintendo Switch so you can still play while on the go.

In this day and age, you should at least bring your phone or tablet. Bring a portable charger too, guaranteeing you can keep using your phone even when you’re out on a shore excursion or stuck in an area with no sockets. 

Remember: you’re on a ship. While unlikely, there’s the chance of limited power and you might experience a few power outages. For these moments, have a book or some cards to play. 

11. Doing Everything on Day One

Yes, cruise trips can get exciting but you don’t have to do everything on day one. You might get too tired before you can truly enjoy the remaining days at sea. Space your activities right and leave some time to relax. 

A good way to space things out is to prioritize one or two major events each day. Don’t cram more than that. You can then sprinkle in a few less exhausting activities, like souvenir shopping on the ship or checking out the featured shows.

12. Letting Kids Run Free

Don’t ever let your kids run free on the ship. Letting them run around without your supervision can lead to the worst kind of nightmares.

Quantum of the Seas Theater (Photo: Emrys Thakkar)

The worst-case scenario could lead to your kids falling overboard. There are safety nets and other safety precautions to prevent people from falling off the ship but these aren’t a solid guarantee. They could fall off and no one would notice, especially if you’re on a ship with hundreds of people bustling about.

Kids can also get lost. Remember that large cruise ships are bigger than malls — some of them have malls and theme parks inside them

13. Not Leaving Space or Money for Souvenirs

We talked about packing a while back. You want to make sure you carry enough for the trip and you shouldn’t overdo it. However, don’t fill your luggage up to the brim. Make sure there’s enough space for souvenirs.

Keep in mind, you’ll visit several port towns throughout the cruise. It’s easy to lose track of all the things you’ll find and purchase. Before you know it, you’ll get overwhelmed by all the souvenirs and trinkets.

Leaving some extra space can also guarantee you don’t go over your weight limit on your flight back home. 

14. Inviting the Wrong Cruise Mate

Last, but certainly not least, don’t bring the wrong cruise mate! Don’t invite anyone and everyone to join you on the cruise trip.

Keep in mind that you’ll likely share a small cabin for several days. You’ll want to spend all that intimate time with someone that matters, like a good friend, a date, or a relative who doesn’t drive you crazy!

Your partner can make or break the cruise experience. You don’t want someone who stays in the cabin all day but you also don’t want someone who gets drunk and pukes all over the buffet.

Learn What Not to Do on Your Next Cruise!

Keeping note of what not to do on your cruise trip isn’t difficult. It’s all about prioritizing things to keep you prepared and leaving space for fun. Follow these tips and you’ll have a smoother experience the next time you go on a seaside adventure!

But learning about your cruise adventure doesn’t end here. Read more of our tips and guides to discover more amazing details, like this post about 10 shocking cruise ship facts!

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