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Cruise ships are a relaxing way to see the world.

However, whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or embarking on your first cruise, cruise ship etiquette is part of being a savvy and courteous cruise traveler.

Below are seven cruise ship etiquette tips. They’re fresh in my head; I just returned from a 14-day “Jewels of the Baltic” cruise. It was a treat to visit beautiful and historic cities on or near the Baltic Sea. But, because I had not cruised in several years, it seemed a good opportunity to think about cruise ship etiquette tips that are relevant for anyone taking a first…or fourteenth cruise.

  1. Don’t be a slob just because you have a cabin steward. Sure, you can place dirty towels on the bathroom floor to indicate you want fresh ones. But, try to make the steward’s twice-daily cabin clean up easier. Place dirty dishes in one area and shoes on the closet floor instead of the room. Keep personal items neatly organized on the bathroom vanity and coffee table.

  2. Be mindful of loud conversations in the hallways. There are night owls and early-to-bed folks on every cruise. It’s considerate to keep voices soft in the corridors to show courtesy to those who may sleep at different times than you. Ships have a variety of beautiful public lounges and the “crow’s nest.” These areas are perfect for longer and livelier conversations rather than cabin corridors, especially late at night or early in the morning. And, if your stateroom also includes a veranda, low voices is also a courteous gesture to your veranda neighbors!

  3. Use your best table manners in the formal dining room. If you’re at a table of 4-8, wait until everyone at your table is served before starting to eat each course. Be courteous and polite to the servers and wine stewards. When ordering, it’s more gracious to say, “May I please have the…” rather than “Give me the…” Good table manners are a reflection on you and shows courtesy to those serving you, even if you choose to dine in one of the more casual eating areas.

  4. Dress properly for the dining room. The appropriate attire is stated on the daily program for that evening. Attire recommendations vary from cruise line to cruise line. However, most nights are generally designated “smart casual” and several nights are “gala” attire. If you wish to dress very casually for evening dining, you may feel more comfortable enjoying the “lido” buffet. This more relaxed setting still offers a variety of cuisines and more flexible dining hours.

  5. Share the chairs. If you don’t plan to relax at the pool until late morning, don’t stake out a sun lounger at 7 a.m. with your books and pool towel. And, if saving seats for your group at the theater and they’re running late, release the seats for other guests.

  6. Be on time. For your spa appointment or dinner reservations at the specialty restaurant and for your appointed dinner seating time for the main dining room. And if exploring a port of call on your own, give yourself plenty of extra time to arrive back at the ship. Ships take seriously the “all aboard time.”

  7. What about tipping? Many major cruise lines charge a daily fee for tips. These tips are added to your on-board account each day. The tips are then shared among the visible crew (dining stewards, cabin stewards, etc.) and also with those working tirelessly behind the scenes. Ask your travel agent about tips before you go. If they’re not included, you’ll want to be prepared with extra cash. It’s also a good idea to check your on-board account daily. You can do this either via the stateroom television or at the service desk. This avoids any last-minute scrambles to the service desk before disembarkation.

In short, whether your next cruise takes you to the Baltic, Caribbean or Mediterranean, these tips will ensure that your cruise ship etiquette doesn’t go overboard!

Rachel Wagner is a licensed business etiquette consultant, trainer and speaker. Her Oklahoma-based business etiquette firm, Rachel Wagner Etiquette and Protocol, provides business etiquette training and professional development for a variety of industries in Oklahoma and nationally. For more information, you may visit her website www.EtiquetteTrainer.com.