Are you going on a cruise? As a seasoned cruiser, having been on over 25 cruises, here are things I’ll never do on a cruise.
Things Experienced Cruisers Never Do on a Cruise
1. Leaving the Front Door and Balcony Door Open at the Same Time
Seasoned cruisers know the golden rule: never leave both the front door and the balcony door open simultaneously. Doing so creates a wind tunnel, and the result? The front door will slam shut. It’s a little scary and dangerous, especially if you are traveling with small children!
2. Not Leaving a Credit Card on File
Pro-cruisers know to avoid the long lines at the guest services at all cost. Waiting in line there can easily take over 30 minutes of your precious vacation time. In order to avoid long lines at guest services, it’s best to leave your credit card on file with the cruise line. This way, you can easily settle your bill without having to wait in line.
If you don’t have a credit card on file, you’ll have to go to guest services to settle your bill, which can be a time-consuming process. On the last day of the cruise, the line at guest services can be very long, as many passengers will be settling their bills at the same time. By charging your cruise incidentals to your credit card, you can avoid the long line at guest services.
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3. Wearing the Cruise Lanyard at Port
Experienced cruisers know the unspoken rule: never walk around the port with their cruise lanyard. Why? Because it’s akin to waving a “tourist” flag, inviting unwanted attention from potential thieves and pickpockets!
When you wear that lanyard, you’re practically broadcasting your status as a cruise passenger. And savvy shopkeepers can exploit this knowledge during negotiations. Imagine haggling for a souvenir, only for them to play the “you’re about to board the ship” card, adding urgency to their pitch.
To safeguard your belongings, consider an anti-slash crossbody bag with RFID blocking, especially when exploring European ports. It will give you peace of mind. And while you’re at it, check out my 11 anti-theft cruise tips!
4. Waiting for a Table
Experienced cruisers know that it’s a major time waster to have to stand in line to wait for a table. To avoid waiting in line for a table at the Main Dining Room, it’s best to make dinner reservations.
I know you think you want to do open dining so you can eat whenever you are ready to eat.
While open dining may seem appealing, but the truth is, it’s more of a hassle to do the open dining because the line can be long just to get a table. And in the end, you’ll likely find yourself eating around the same time anyway.
So why not simplify things? Make dinner reservations for each night of your cruise and avoid the hassle of waiting in line.
If you’re cruising with a large group, it’s smart to make dinner reservations, since it can be difficult to get a table for large groups.
Check out: 9 Things I Wished I Knew When Planning a Large Family Cruise
5. Not Downloading the Cruise App in Advance
Many cruise lines now require passengers to download the cruise app if they want to make reservations and bookings on the cruise.
Experienced cruisers know to download the cruise app at home before embarkation day. This way, you’ll have one less thing to worry about on embarkation day, and you can avoid any potential lag time when downloading the cruise app on the ship.
Having the cruise app on your phone saves you time, since you can immediately make dinner reservations and reserve other cruise activities once you’re on board. Pro-cruisers know that some popular cruise activities do sell out, so you want to have the Cruise app ready so you can start making bookings the moment you get on the ship.
Check Out: How to Sleep Like a Baby on a Cruise (10 Tips from an Ex-Insomniac)
6. Not Booking an Early Time Slot on Embarkation Day
Experienced cruisers know to book the earliest time slot on embarkation day. The wait time on embarkation day can be long and stressful. To shorten wait times, cruise lines will let you pick an embarkation window during online check-in. I suggest you pick the earliest time available for check-in. That way, you can get on the ship sooner.
7. Not Flying in the Night Before the Cruise
Experienced cruisers understand the importance of arriving the night before their cruise departure rather than flying in on the morning of the cruise and heading directly to the ship.
Taking a morning flight can be risky—what if your flight is delayed or canceled? You’d then be at risk of missing the cruise altogether.
My recommendation is to fly in the night before and stay at a hotel near the cruise port. This way, you’ll ensure a smooth embarkation process and start your cruise vacation stress-free.
8. Not Taking My Photo In Advance
Pro-cruisers know to take their photo in advance. When you complete the online check-in, you’ll have the option to take a photo and upload it to the cruise line’s app. Instead of wasting time at the port having your photos taken (especially if you’re traveling with a big group), I suggest you do it in advance. Aside from saving time and making the port check-in process faster, you’ll also get better pictures. Remember, this photo will be the picture that you’ll be stuck with during the entire cruise.
9. Tipping Twice
Experienced cruisers are well aware of this golden rule: always review your bill before leaving a tip. Many cruise lines will automatically add a service charge to your bill. However, some people don’t look at the receipt closely or don’t pay attention and end up tipping twice!
10. Not Bringing Refillable Water Bottles
Experienced cruisers know the importance of bringing their own refillable water bottles on board. While most cruise ships don’t offer complimentary water in your cabin, you have two options: either purchase expensive bottled water from the cruise line or get your own water from the buffet.
If you don’t have your own water bottle, you’ll find yourself lugging cups from the buffet back to your stateroom—an inconvenient task.
That’s precisely why I always bring refillable water bottles. I fill it up with water and ice, bringing water back to my cabin is hassle-free. Plus, I bring my own water to shore excursions as well. These insulated water bottles without straws are my go-to choice so I don’t have to deal with cleaning the straws.
11. Not Bringing a Swim Cover Up
Pro-cruisers know that there is a dress code at the buffet, you can’t just walk in the buffet in a wet bathing suit and a towel! Instead of having to change, it’s easiest to just put on a swim cover up.
Check out: Cruise without Seasickness: Genius Tricks You Need to Know
12. Not Booking Shore Excursions in Advance
For seasoned cruisers, booking shore excursions in advance is a must. Often times, popular shore excursions sell out. It’s also hard to wing it when you are at the port, you risk ending up doing nothing but just walking around aimlessly at the port. By reserving your shore excursions ahead of time, you also avoid the hassle of waiting in line at the shore excursion desk.
Check out: 10 Ways to Score Free Champagne at a Cruise (How to Get Free Drinks!)
13. Not Comparing Shore Excursion Prices
As a seasoned cruiser who’s been to over 25 cruises, I always compare shore excursion prices. Booking shore excursions through the cruise is usually more expensive. Oftentimes, I find less expensive shore excursion prices from outside tour operators like viator.
Also, if I’m traveling with a large group, I usually book private shore excursions, which will usually be less expensive compared to booking through the cruise line.
The one advantage of taking shore excursions with your cruise line is they guarantee that you will get back on the ship in time. Although, I’ve personally taken several independent tours and never encountered any issues with getting back on board promptly.
From my personal experience, I find that many of the tour operators I book independently turn out to be affiliated with the same company used by the cruise for their shore excursions—except I was able to book my tour at a lower price!
14. Going to the Buffet on Embarkation Day
One thing I never do on a cruise is to go to the buffet on embarkation day. The buffet is always so busy on embarkation day because everyone goes to the buffet after checking in.
I suggest avoiding the crowd and long lines. Eat at the Main Dining Room or at one of the eateries that are open near the lobby.
Check out: 10 Food I’ll Never Eat at a Cruise Buffet
15. Not Joining the Cruise Loyalty Program
You should always join the cruise loyalty program. Most cruises will start giving you perks even after one cruise. Cruise loyalty program can earn you benefits, such as free drinks, invitations to captain’s parties (with free drinks), free laundry service, free specialty dining, expedited check-ins, and more. These perks can save you money and enhance your cruise experience. Therefore, it is a good idea to always join cruise loyalty programs. Also, do a comparison loyalty programs and try to stick to one cruise line so you earn higher status.
Check out: 18 Worst Things that Can Ruin Your Cruise
16. Not Making One Round at the Buffet
Experienced cruisers know to always check the entire buffet before starting. Cruise buffets are big and can span an entire deck and have different types of food on both sides. It’s common for cruise lines to have themed dishes on one side and then have another type of food on the other side. So, don’t assume that the food at the buffet on one side is the same as the other side.
To make the most of your cruise buffet experience, it’s a good idea to check out the entire buffet so you can try everything. Don’t miss out by settling and eating from only one section of the buffet.
Check out: 11 Most Annoying People to Avoid on a Cruise
17. Not Bringing a Carry-On Bag
Seasoned cruisers know that you will need a carry-on bag for embarkation and disembarkation. You need a carry-on bag because on the first day of the cruise, you will not have access to your checked luggage until later in the afternoon to early evening. Instead of waiting for your checked luggage to be delivered, you have access to essentials in your carry-on bag. I suggest using a small roller bag as your carry on bag.
Make sure you pack essentials, such as toiletries, medication, toys/devices (entertainment for kids), and a change of clothes in your carry on bag. If you’re going on a warm weather cruise (Caribbean, Mexico), you may also want to pack your bathing suit, goggles, and sunscreen, so you can swim or lounge poolside as soon as you board the ship!
The carry on bag will also come in handy on the last day because you will need to check in your main luggage the night before you leave the ship. You will need that carry on bag to pack your overnight items that you will take with you off the ship.
Looking for last minute deals? I recommend searching for last minute cruise deals from Cruise Direct
If you need to book shore excursion tours, a great platform to book tours is with viator
Looking to save money on your cruise? 21 Smart and Easy Ways to Save Money on a Cruise
Check out these cruise packing lists with free printables
Alaska cruise packing list
Caribbean cruise packing list
Mediterranean cruise packing list
Mexico cruise packing list
Bermuda Cruise Packing List
25 Things People Forget to Pack on their Cruise
Check out: 30 Unusual Things to Pack for a Cruise: Things You Didn’t Know You Need
Check out: When to Book a Cruise to Get the Best Deal
Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts
I'm an experienced cruise enthusiast with a deep knowledge of the ins and outs of cruise travel. I've been on over 25 cruises and have firsthand experience with various aspects of cruising, from embarkation to shore excursions, dining, and onboard activities. My expertise extends to maximizing the cruise experience, avoiding common pitfalls, and making the most of the amenities and services offered by cruise lines.
Concepts Related to Cruise Travel
Embarkation Process and Tips
- Booking an Early Time Slot on Embarkation Day
- Flying in the Night Before the Cruise
- Need for a Carry-On Bag for Essentials
- Leaving the Front Door and Balcony Door Open at the Same Time
- Not Leaving a Credit Card on File
- Wearing the Cruise Lanyard at Port
- Making Dinner Reservations and Avoiding Table Wait Times
- Downloading the Cruise App in Advance
- Taking a Photo in Advance
- Tipping Twice
- Bringing Refillable Water Bottles
- Bringing a Swim Cover Up
- Joining the Cruise Loyalty Program
- Making One Round at the Buffet
- Not Booking Shore Excursions in Advance
- Comparing Shore Excursion Prices
- Going to the Buffet on Embarkation Day
These concepts cover a wide range of topics related to cruise travel, including embarkation procedures, onboard etiquette and convenience, dining and entertainment strategies, and the importance of planning shore excursions. The information provided in the article is valuable for both novice and experienced cruisers, offering insights and practical tips to enhance the overall cruise experience.