In my six years of sailing the seven seas, I've met all kinds of new friends and interesting folks. But I've also met the problem passengers: the rude ones, the greedy ones, and the always-late ones.
Don't be like them. Here are five cruising pet peeves and no-nos to avoid, so you can make sure you're a crew favorite:
Don't: miss the ship.
It's every cruiser's worst nightmare: to find yourself gazing up as your cruise ship sails off into the sunset...without you. Cruise lines run a tight ship, literally — and if you’re late, they will not wait. If you find yourself in this situation, it will be down to you to cough up the cash and pay for a flight to the next port of call. To avoid this, make sure you’re always on the local time. Otherwise, you could end up like British couple the Pratts, who arrived back at their Danube port only to realize their watches weren’t on central European time. It was noon in England, not Austria.
Don't: hoard the food.
Much like Rebel Wilson, if my family went to a buffet growing up, we always took some home with us. No need to do this on a cruise ship. The buffet is open for much of the day, and sometimes for twenty-four hours — in fact, thinking back to my first cruise holiday as a young teen, I remember feeling like it was Christmas upon discovering this. If you're really desperate to eat in your cabin, some vessels will even allow you to order directly to your stateroom free of charge.
Don't: pack too much.
There is no getting away from this one...I am definitely guilty of being an over-packer. And a majority of the time, the luggage rule on cruises is: “if you can carry it, you can bring it.” Granted, if you’re taking a fly-cruise and sailing out of a far-flung location, you're likely to find luggage restrictions on the part of the airline. But if you don't have restrictions, that means endless pairs of shoes, dresses, and even the kitchen sink! Remember, though, that cabin space is limited. There are also laundry services onboard most ships, so feel free to pack lightly and reuse what you bring.
Don't: steal a sunbed.
Just picture it — it’s 6am, and you hear the thunderous sound of footsteps along the corridors. A herd of elephants, you ask? No. It’s the sunbed stealers. One of the only design flaws onboard larger cruise ships is the ratio of sunbeds to passengers; sadly, there simply cannot be enough for the mammoth number of people onboard. Far too often, scheming guests will rise at the crack of dawn, place their towels down on a vacant sunbed, and "reserve" their spot for the day — even if it only receives ten minutes of use. What they don't realize: if this bad behavior is spotted, the crew will monitor you like a hawk, and your towel will not be long for this world.
Don't: be rude to the crew.
Countless documentaries have showcased the extremely hard work undertaken by cruise crewmembers. Seven-day weeks, often for six months at a time — no holidays, no paid time off. Remember: politeness costs nothing. Although it may seem obvious, always remember your pleases and thank yous. Much of the crew’s work goes unnoticed; when your cabin steward makes your bed and leaves an artistic animal-shaped towel creation on top of your duvet, thank them. One of the biggest insults to staff is stiffing them on gratuity. These tips contribute directly towards their salaries; removing gratuity from your fare will only mean the crew is doing the same work for less money.