The Do’s and Don’ts of Cruising

It’s a question we never thought we would hear, especially in the snug bar of our local here in deepest Sussex. It’s the kind of thing you might expect on dodgy street corners or the more seedy parts of a Caribbean port. But definitely not in the genteel confines of the Shepherd & Dog.

“Is vaping allowed on a cruise ship?”

Well, you could have knocked us over with a wet kipper. True, the query did come from a youngish sort with a full beard and the kind of deportment that made you suspect he only had a passing acquaintance with his bath or shower (if he even had one), but even so, its 21st-century moral undertone caught us totally by surprise.

Vaping? Vaping? On a cruise ship? What kind of foul misdeeds did someone commit while vaping anywhere, let alone at sea?

Fortunately, our canny landlord caught our immediate look of horror and disapprobation and was able to whisper, sotto voce, “It’s a kind of smoking. A lot of youngsters do it these days, apparently.”

Our hirsute chum proceeded to tell us all about e-cigarettes, atomizers and vapour inhalation, but we were still in a nautical quandary about anyone asking if it’s OK to take their habit into a maritime environment. And it gave us pause for thought – what exactly are the proper Do’s and Don’ts of being shipboard. What is the basic etiquette of cruising?

With that in mind, we have assembled our Essential Eight Provisos of Treadwell & Tenny’s Proper Sea-Going Deportment:

Be Sanitary
Use the many hand-sanitiser gadgets scattered around the ship. Often. They are pretty much everywhere these days as the scourge of cold and flu season has become almost omnipresent, even if it remains relatively rare.

Treadwell is especially hot on this one, having the necessary medical upbringing to know that washing your hands regularly and scrupulously is the best way to ward off readily communicable illnesses (like the evil Norovirus, which rules by reputation more than reality). Hand-sanitisers are a step in the right direction but not the only one, especially when there’s a scrimmage around the jolly old buffet. Just the hint of someone not maintaining proper hand cleanliness is enough to give the old girl conniptions. Even better, just avoid the buffet altogether. All those hands, y’see.

Pay Attention
Yes, we know you’re on holiday and all that, but don’t be That Couple who have to be rousted from their cabin during Lifeboat Drill because they thought those shriekingly long whistles and alarm bells didn’t apply to them. The Drill is a fundamental necessity before the ship can go anywhere and everyone, regardless of whether they are Lord and Lady Snooty in the Penthouse Suite, must attend.

Oh, and don’t be the class dullard after the Drill by being the one who leaves their lifejacket straps trailing on the floor behind them for others to go base over apex when they trip over them.

Don’t Smuggle
Yes, ‘smuggle,’ not ‘snuggle.’ Trying to sneak on your own booze, when most cruise lines expressly forbid it, is not going to make you popular with the crew. It is a mundane modern reality that the ships want you paying their (rather inflated) bar prices instead of having a crafty snifter in your own stateroom, and those who try to flout the rules make life tedious for everyone else during embarkation times.

There are no major penalties for being caught out – other than having your tipple sequestered for the rest of the voyage – but do know that if it happens near us, you will be treated with the utmost contempt. Stuff and nonsense, y’know.

Be A Family
The crew are not your full-time babysitters, and neither are your fellow passengers. That means we shouldn’t have to call children to order when they commandeer the lifts, charge up and down the corridors at night, and otherwise make a nautical nuisance of themselves while the parents are in absentia.

Most ships now have splendid children’s facilities and kids’ clubs, but that doesn’t mean you can abdicate all parental responsibility for the duration.

Don’t Be A Pool Hog
Do we really have to say this? Judging by some of the behaviour we still see around pool decks and lidos, yes we do. This dates back to Early Man, and his first holiday, when he decided it was OK to put his towel on that ideal spot next to the Brontosaurus Pond and leave it there until he felt ready to come back.

It wasn’t then, it isn’t now, and it has never been OK to be the Pool Hog who tries to monopolise a sun-lounger in prime territory next to the pool until they actually want to use it. Cruise ship staff have the authority to remove towels – and any other personal detritus – from sun-loungers around the pool if they are not being used, but don’t be the one that makes them have to be the Lido Gestapo. Just don’t do it.

Don’t Quibble Over Gratuities
Yes, we know the whole idea of tipping at sea is anathema to many, but, until the cruise lines make a concerted effort to include this particular item in the overall price, it remains a necessary part of the process – and a vital one to people like the stateroom stewards and stewardesses and the bar staff, who all rely heavily on this element of their wages.

You might think it’s OK to browbeat the hapless clerk at the front desk over the ‘daily gratuities’ added to your end-of-cruise bill, but you’re only short-changing staff who fully deserve the essential income that it represents.

Do Use A Cruise Agent
Yes, this website is run by a cruise agent, and yes, “Of course they would say that,” but, when there are serious bargains to be had and the internet is an increasingly unreliable vehicle for providing the full picture and it is so damnably easy to push the wrong button and end up with “booking change charges,” we think it’s positively irresponsible to invest your hard-earned moolah with anyone other than a certified booking expert, aka a cruise agent.

We’ve been doing it for more than 30 years and we wouldn’t dream of entrusting our much-needed annual vacation to anyone else. Plus, they’re awfully nice people, so, there’s that.

Vape If You Want To
We fully understand that there remain people addicted to the Evil Weed that is tobacco, and that it is unfair to expect them to go a week or two without their prime addiction. Therefore cruise lines do still allow guests to partake, under various conditions. There is NO smoking allowed in cabins or on cabin balconies, and restaurants and bars are a no-go area as well (it used to be that the starboard side was smoker-friendly; not any more). Some lines allow smokers in parts of the Casino – especially if you are feeding their machines! – and cigars and pipes are permitted in particular deck spaces.

Basically, vaping regulations tend to vary depending on the line you’re sailing with, so make sure to do your research before you set sail to ensure you’re not taken out of your e-cigarette comfort zone like our friend in the pub. Once again, a good cruise agent will ensure you get the right holiday experience. You see what we did there?