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15 cruise ship rules you shouldn’t break



Erica Silverstein


Are you a rule follower or do you like to cross the line when it suits you? Some travelers are good at doing what they’re told, while others see the holidays as a time to live as they please, regardless of official policies. On a cruise ship, the rules are many – from what you can bring on board to how and where you can have fun. Some rules will seem restrictive and you will be tempted to break them.

Please don’t. Most cruise ship rules were created with your health and safety in mind, and breaking them could put you and your shipmates at risk. Not to mention that getting caught could ruin your cruise with hefty fines and possibly forced disembarkation.

If you’re tempted to be a little mean, first find out the ramifications of your actions. Here are 15 cruising rules you shouldn’t break — and what could happen if you do.

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No smoking inside or on the balconies

The rules are strict when it comes to smoking on cruise ships. Most cruise lines prohibit smoking in most interior areas, as well as on stateroom balconies and public outdoor decks. You can only smoke in designated areas, usually one or two areas of the upper decks or the outer promenade and maybe one side of the casino or a cigar bar. Why? Lighters and cigarette ashes are fire hazards, and fatal cruise ship fires have been started by capricious sparks from cigarettes. No cruise line wants to take that risk. Get caught breaking this cruise ship rule and you’ll be fined $250 or more, with the possibility of disembarkation.

No underage drinking


The legal drinking age on cruise ships is 18 or 21, depending on the line and region you sail. With so much drink-centric cruise ship entertainment, it’s tempting to slip your responsible teen a fruity daiquiri or cold beer. Enterprising minors are also known to find ways to access alcohol while their parents are not paying attention. You might not think a drink or two is harmful, but drunk teens can fall victim to sexual predators or engage in reckless behavior that could lead them to fall and hurt themselves – or even fall overboard. . Even if the consumption of alcohol itself has no bad results, underage drinkers or adults who supply alcohol to minors may find themselves kicked off the ship at the next port of call if caught.

No drugs or alcohol on board

Whether you are a minor or not, on the major cruise lines you are also not allowed to bring alcohol, beer or drugs on board; wine and champagne policies vary. Contraband alcohol will be confiscated if discovered and you may not get it back. Bring illegal drugs on board and you risk fines, disembarkation and jail time. You are not allowed to bring marijuana on a cruise, even if it is legal in your port of departure or port of call. In this case, you can enjoy recreational use on land, but don’t try to bring it back as a souvenir.

You must attend the safety drill

Eager cruisers roll their eyes when asked to watch another security drill, often called a muster drill. On the first day of every cruise you take, you must attend a safety briefing, offered in person or in video format, and then report to your muster station, the place where you would muster in the event of an emergency. The drills sometimes interrupt the fun flow of the first day cruise, and everyone complains about going. Don’t think you can hide in your cabin and avoid the drudgery. Public areas on some ships are closing and staff members are checking cabins during in-person gatherings. Those who don’t attend will be forced to attend a face-painting exercise – or forced off the ship at the next port of call.

Report your symptoms on the health form

Before boarding a cruise ship, dock staff will give you a health questionnaire, asking if you have experienced any symptoms in the past few days or if you have been exposed to COVID-19. You can lie about your sore throat or your stomach aches, and nothing will probably happen to you. However, you could be responsible for making someone else sick – perhaps someone whose immune system isn’t as robust as yours and whose holiday will be ruined by a few sick days in bed. . A norovirus or COVID-19 outbreak on board could mean some sites are closed or activities are reduced for the entire ship. Nobody wants that.

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Return on time on board


Are you always late or do you take deadlines as suggestions? You will need to change your mindset on a cruise. The captain is serious when he sets the time on board, that is to say the time when everyone must be on board before the departure of the ship. After this time, the crew begins to retract the gangways and prepare the ship to depart. Occasionally the captain will hold the ship for a few wayward passengers, but more often stragglers rush to the pier to find the ship sailing without them.

No guests in crew areas

Watch old episodes of “The Love Boat,” and you might come on a cruise vacation hoping for onboard romance. On a modern cruise, don’t expect a date with the cute bartender, the smart officer, or the gorgeous lounge singer. Crew members are not permitted to socialize with guests or invite them into the crew quarters. An illicit affair with a crew member might leave you with little more than a broken heart, but the crew member could lose their job for breaking this serious cruise ship rule.

No children in nappies in the swimming pools

When the sun is beating down in the Caribbean, everyone wants to cool off in cruise ship pools. But read the sign: Your baby or toddler in diapers is not allowed. Why? A diaper containment failure and that pool or hot tub will need to be shut down, drained, and sanitized, taking it out of service for several hours or even a full day. Instead, look for ships with designated splash areas for kids in diapers or bring an inflatable tub for water play in the bathroom.

No reservation of deckchairs


Want to incur the wrath of your shipmates? Show up early by the pool, reserve a few lounge chairs with your book or flip flops, then don’t come back until after lunch. It is against the rules to claim sunbeds as your own if you are not using them, as this prevents other guests from accessing them. Unless you believe in karma, the worst that will happen to you if you break this rule is that ship staff might remove your items if left too long. However, you will get mean looks from your neighbors on board.

No climbing on ramps

Don’t climb the rungs of your balcony like a ladder or perch on top of its railing. Don’t lean out of open windows looking for the best shot. Don’t play Jack and Rose from “Titanic.” Don’t try to get from your balcony to the next one by swinging on the side of the ship. All of these actions are against the rules as they put you at risk of falling over the side of the ship. Not worth it.

No rowdy behavior

Cruise lines have codes of conduct in the contract that every passenger signs when booking a cruise. Start a fight in a bar, harass the people next to you on the pool deck, or assault a crew member and you could find yourself thrown into the brig (i.e. the prison of a cruise ship). You could also be fined, taken off the ship, or banned from the cruise line. Better watch your manners.

Do not take food on board the ship

Some ports of call have regulations preventing the transportation of food (usually produce and meat, unsealed and pre-packaged food) off the ship and onto their shores. This is usually to prevent the spread of pests and diseases. Some ports employ food sniffing dogs and workers will confiscate the sandwich you made for lunch or the apple you brought for a snack. You could also be subject to a fine.

No open flames or fire hazards


Remember the no smoking rule on cruise ships? The prohibition also applies to other fire hazards. You cannot light candles on a cruise ship (even on religious holidays) or bring electronic devices with heating elements, such as kettles, coffee makers, or certain hair styling appliances. Explosives and fireworks are out. Even power strips with surge protectors are not allowed. Bring prohibited items on board and they will likely be confiscated for the duration of your cruise.

No drones

Tech-savvy photographers are taking an interest in drones these days, and anyone who loves electronic gadgets has jumped on board the craze, flying them around beaches or parks. You can see how drones would take great footage of cruise ships, but you’ll have to curb your enthusiasm. Most cruise ships have rules prohibiting drones from boarding, or if allowed, they can only be used outside the ship in port, according to local regulations. Try to sneak in from your balcony and your drone will be confiscated.

no weapons

Cruise lines are very clear that they don’t want any weapons on board. This includes firearms, pellet guns, tasers, knives, open razors and all ammunition. Your dive knife and large scrapbooking shears are allowed on board, but ship security will hold them and you can check items at certain times. Any dangerous items discovered on board will not only be confiscated but disposed of – and you will receive no compensation.

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