Things a cruise line employee wouldn’t do on a cruise ship

  • After working on cruise ships for seven years, there are a few things I would never do on a ship.
  • I’d take advantage of the cruise line’s digital app, but skip paying for a virtual balcony.
  • I have found that booking tours independently is not worth the cheapest price.

Having worked on various cruise ships around the world for the past seven years, I know a lot about their inner workings, from the best onboard activities to the tastiest dining options.

But with that knowledge, there are also things I would never do on ships.

I wouldn’t give up on the cruise line’s digital app

We live in a digital age, so most major cruise lines have apps that provide all the necessary information for your vacation.

These applications include logistics such as port hours, activities and dress codes. Plus, you can often use them to order food and make reservations.

Some can even unlock your cabin door or make a personal calendar of your events.

Excursions that take place independently of the ship carry additional risks

People kayaking in the stunning water of Cooks Bay, Moorea in French Polynesia

Kayaking is a popular excursion.

Erica DePascale

Tours booked through the ship come with the guarantee that if your tour is delayed, the ship will be waiting to return.

Many visitors book external tours for a cheaper price, but often it is not worth it. I’ve seen my share of passengers run onto the pier and miss the ship.

Excursions booked through the cruise line are the safe way to go if you’re worried about your ship leaving without you.

Queuing to get off the ship first usually gets you nowhere

Whenever the ship enters port, it is not uncommon for passengers to congregate near the gangway exits, crowding the stairs and corridors.

This can be difficult for the ship as customs officers often have to board the ship and inspect these areas.

Overcrowding can be a major no-no and can delay clearing the ship, so more often than not, the crew ends up sending these guests upstairs to wait.

If you find it difficult to disembark early, look into purchasing a shore excursion that gives you priority exit once the ship clears.

You do not need to pack prohibited items

Red suitcase with folded clothes on hardwood floor

Irons and steamers are usually prohibited.

Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Certain items such as irons, steamers and drinks are not usually allowed on ships, but guests often pack them anyway.

You might think you can get away with it, but all bags are scanned at the terminal.

If you have prohibited items, your bags will be held longer in security and will not be delivered to your room until later. Belongings will also be confiscated until the end of the cruise.

I would never book virtual balcony

Some ships offer virtual balconies, big screen with ocean view, but I don’t think they are worth it.

You’re paying more for a screen that will show you the outside world, and many times, the electronics add some heat to the room.

If you want a view, choose a real balcony or window.

Removing gratuities may affect the crew’s livelihood

Cruise ship personnel pose for a photo on the ship's deck

The crew works hard to ensure your cruise is an enjoyable one.

Erica DePascale

Cruise ships usually automatically charge gratuities that are split into a few different departments and are essential to the salaries of many crew members.

But they are not required to be kept and many guests remove them when they board.

Unless you are going to tip the crew individually, removing tips affects the income of the crew members and their families.

I wouldn’t eat at the same place every night

I know many guests are stuck with their favorite places to eat on board, from the buffet to the main dining room, but one of the best parts of a cruise is the delicious and varied restaurants.

Some options are included, while others are an extra cost, but I’ve found that you usually get a lot more for your money when you eat in restaurants on board

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