At hotels and all-inclusive resorts, workers come and go over the course of your stay. That’s not the case on cruises, where cruise ship employees will be sailing with you throughout the entire voyage. Because of that, you get to know your stateroom attendant, preferred bartender and favourite performer in a different way, and you might want to go out of your way to be friendly and polite to them. But while your motivations may be good, the etiquette rules at sea aren’t necessarily the same as the ones on land.
Some habits you think are polite don’t go over quite the way you’d expect. They may even affect cruise worker’s pay rate and the opportunity for them to be offered a future contract, according to Alissa M., a performer who’s worked on some of the world’s top cruise lines, including Holland America, Princess and Norwegian. And other seemingly kind gestures may actually be awkward or get in the way of an employee doing his or her job.
So, what do you need to know before you embark on a cruise? We got the inside scoop from cruise ship directors, chefs, servers, entertainers, stateroom attendants and other employees to find out the missteps they wish you’d avoid – and what you should do instead. These cruise tips will make sure it’s smooth sailing for everyone, every time.
Raving about your special-request dinner
It’s wonderful when you have such a delicious meal that you want to compliment the chef and tell everyone at your dinner table about it. However, when the item in question is a special request – especially one that required advance notice for preparation – the chef won’t be able to replicate it right away, which may upset other guests who want it.
“The problem is not when they share it but when everyone loves the dish and then wants it now. A special request cannot be mass-produced,” explains one chef on a small luxury cruise line who prefers to remain anonymous. “The other concern is that many people in the kitchen are now making dozens of special requests, and they’re being pulled away from preparing dishes from the regular menu.”
Do this instead: tell your dinner mates that your special-request dish was excellent after they’re finished with their meals. That way, you’ve complimented the chef, but you’ve also given him and other chefs in the galley ample time to recreate the dish for more passengers.
Sharing positive feedback about entertainers to the cruise director or guest services
Guests may think they’re doing entertainers a favour when they compliment their performances to other employees on the ship, but that message isn’t going to the right people. “A lot of people assume that the cruise director is the ‘boss’ of the entertainers, but rarely are they the ones making hiring decisions,” explains Alissa. “Because my agent and corporate personnel are shoreside, they don’t see what happens onboard.”
Do this instead: complete the surveys at the end of your cruise, and turn them in or submit them online. “The official feedback surveys are the only way positive messages get back to the decision makers who actually decide my bookings, pay rate and more,” Alissa explains. “If a worker really stands out to you on your cruise in any department, please mention them by name in the guest post-cruise survey. Telling the cruise director or guest services will do very little to benefit that employee who went above and beyond.”