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It’s the commonest question in chatrooms and on advice sites: how should I behave on my first cruise?

There are often hundreds, if not, thousands of passengers on today’s megaliners. So  adhering to basic rules of courtesy is a must if you want to ensure the journey is fun and fuss-free.

Here’s an essential guide to cruise ship etiquette:

Don’t hog the deck chairs

This is one of the most common and widely resented breach of shipboard etiquette. Many passengers have the annoying habit of reserving deck chairs or sun loungers on the pool deck. Remember it is first come, first served. So placing a book, towel and personal items on the sun lounger to reserve it while you wander off, is frowned on. Staff on most cruise lines will now remove any items that sit unattended for more than 30 minutes. It’s only fair to other passengers, after all, you bought a cruise ticket, not the whole ship, so there’s no room for entitlement.

Don’t be too noisy and loutish

When it comes to noise, it goes without saying that you should keep it down at night and early morning when you are in your cabin or walking down hallways. Fellow guests may be sleeping and noise can travel down ship corridors further than you think. When you are out on your verandah, keep in mind that there’s another verandah on either side, so try not to shout or have the music too loud.

Dress the Part

You may be on holiday and want to relax but there are basic dress codes which should be observed especially after the sun goes down. While it is fine to be in your shorts and tee shirt during the day, ripped jeans, caps and thongs are usually frowned on in restaurants at night. It is always advisable to pack a couple of cocktail dresses, shirts and jackets for men so that you can look casual but smart if required.

Be Punctual

There’s nothing more frustrating than a ship being held up by passengers haggling at the local market. Cruise ships will leave tardy passengers behind if they do not return on time from their shore excursions. Cruise ships have to maintain strict departure timings. Make sure you know what time you have to return from your tour to board the ship and give yourself extra time to do so. Check with the ship’s daily bulletin so that you can plan your day and know exactly what time you have to be back.

Be Considerate in Elevators

Elevators can get very crowded especially at meal times. Don’t try to cram your whole family into an already crowded lift. Try to keep your conversation down or to a minimum while in a crowded lift. Take the stairs instead, it is good exercise.

Use Hand Sanitisers

Nobody wants to catch the dreaded Norovirus which has struck many cruise lines in the past. Always use hand sanitisers before entering dining venues. Remember the motto, it is always better to be safe than sorry. You should always wash your hands with soap and warm water after visiting the toilet.

Attend lifeboat drill

There is no escape. All passengers must attend the life boat drill at the start of the cruise. Attendance at the muster stations is compulsory as your name will be electronically ticked off a list.

Observe No Smoking Rules

Smoking, including e-cigarettes, is not allowed in cabins, verandahs and most public areas. Some ships may allow smoking in designated areas on the open deck on in cigar lounges but otherwise, do not puff where you please. Make sure you check out where are the designated smoking areas.

Kid Free Zones should be kid free

While some cruise lines target families with kids with death-defying water slides, dodgem cars, rock climbing walls, zip lines, go karts, bowling alleys and kids’ clubs, there are also areas which are off-limits to children. Some lines have adults only pools, while others have zen zones such as Serenity on Carnival Cruise Line and Sanctuary on Princess Cruises. If kids drive you crazy, steer clear of booking your cruise during school holidays and on lines such as Disney Cruises. Choose Viking Cruises or Cruise & Maritime Voyages which ban children from under 18 and 16 respectively.

Cover up

While you are supposed to feel at home on your cruise, do not go wandering around between cabins or around the ship in dressing gowns or go to lunch wearing dental-floss bikinis.

Don’t Slam the Door

If you are coming back to your cabin late after a late night out, remember many of your fellow passengers will be tucked up in bed for hours, so don’t slam the cabin door. Be a little cautious when coming in and out of your cabin and make sure you do not blast your television too loud if you don’t want your neighbours to come knocking on your door.

No Water Babies Please

Doting parents should always take note that babies and toddlers who are not potty-trained, are not allowed to go in the ship’s pools – for obvious reasons. Disney Cruise and Royal Caribbean are two lines that have specific baby splash areas, so use these if you are cruising with a waterbaby.