You’re on a cruise in the buffet line. You’re politely waiting your turn to access a sumptuous bowl of fresh fruit. In front of you is a fellow passenger picking out certain berries — with their fingers!

The ultraselective and handsy fruit looter who committed this cruising faux paus did it in front of none other than Nick Leighton, a frequent traveler and host of the weekly etiquette podcast “Were You Raised By Wolves?”

It can get worse. Angel Wilson, travel advisor and owner of Dream Journeys, LLC, witnessed a cruising incident that makes the fruit bowl breach seem benign. She recently told CNN Travel via email about an unsettling incident:

“A group of us were sitting at a long table in one of the bar venues on a ship and an intoxicated Scotsman came up to us and asked if we’d like to see what ‘real Scots wear under their kilts.’ He then proceeded to flash us, from the front,” said Wilson, who is a cruise specialist.

When it comes to uncouth, uncultured and downright unacceptable behavior on ships, experts in travel etiquette and cruising have seen it all. Below they share plenty of bad behaviors for passengers to avoid (and good ones they should emulate).

Don’t start your cruise on the wrong foot

People line up outside the departure lounge at the City Cruise Terminal before boarding the cruise ship MSC Virtuosa as it prepares to depart the Port of Southampton on its first cruise since the easing of restrictions. Picture date: Thursday May 20, 2021. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)

Bad etiquette can start before the ship ever leaves port. Being late, disorganized and impatient during boarding sets the wrong tone for the whole trip.

Maryanne Parker of the website Manor of Manners reminds passengers that “being on time for our own departure is very important. … We need to make sure that we have all of our documents ready to be presented. Patience is a key component.”

Being on time carries over to the rest of the cruise, too, such as shore excursions. “If we are with a group, we should make sure that we are not late and we didn’t forget any documents,” Parker said in an email interview.

Chair squatting

Empty lounge chairs on the top deck of a cruise ship overlooking a tropical island in the Caribbean

It’s a quintessential cruising experience – hanging out on the deck enjoying the sun and sea. And it’s prime territory for mannerly malfeasance.

“Don’t be a chair hog. … It’s the No. 1 complaint on cruises,” said Leighton. “This is when somebody gets up at, you know, crack of whenever, runs to the pool deck, puts down blankets and all their stuff, and then disappears for hours, goes back to bed, maybe goes to have breakfast, maybe does something else and that chair is just now sitting vacant for hours and hours and hours.”

But wait – don’t cruise lines have rules against seat saving?

They do, Leighton said. Carnival, for instance, has a policy of removing your items if you leave for more than 40 minutes. But “cruise lines, I think, are also not doing a great job of policing their own rules.”

Leighton said this a recipe for maritime conflict.

“It really is tricky to put the burden on the passenger to try to enforce this because I don’t recommend taking someone’s stuff off of their chair. … That’s gonna be real awkward when they come back – if they ever come back,” Leighton said. Instead, report it to a cruise staffer.

No kidding around

MRDAH1 Cape Canaveral, USA - April 29, 2018: The upper deck with swimming pools at cruise liner or ship Oasis of the Seas by Royal Caribbean

Bad deck energy extends to the pool area and other zones as well.

Naturally, kids can get pretty darn excited around a pool (and really, anywhere on the ship.) That doesn’t mean parents should surrender all control.

Cruise Critic, the online cruising advice and news site, tells parents that while you’re poolside with the kids, caution them “not to do that cannonball and splash people sunbathing nearby.”

Wilson has further advice: “Unless the children are in the ship’s kids’ club, the parents should be watching them. Remind children that running down hallways screaming is rude. Try to use inside or whisper voices in the hallways.”

Elevator agitators

G3RG24 The view of colorful interior of a cruise liner with glass elevators in a middle.

Vertical travel within a cruise ship is another place where things can go sideways.

What gripes Wilson? “People trying to push into an elevator as people are still trying to get off of the elevator. Everyone should be allowed to exit the elevator before anyone tries to enter it,” she said.

Wilson noted a brief ease-up in bad elevator manners. Emphasis on brief.

“Early post-pandemic, it was clear that people expected much more personal space on the elevators. Unfortunately, people are starting to go back to the pre-Covid squeeze, which makes for a lot of very disgruntled passengers, who are very uncomfortable with this break in the new etiquette,” she said.

Cruising for a boozing

2A8XK3W Delicious holiday cocktail drinks on a table of a cruise ship. Sea background.

So you like piña coladas? That’s OK. Just don’t be obnoxious about it.

“Know your personal drinking limits!! No, it’s not cute that you’re so drunk you can’t even walk or you’re flashing your penis to people or vomiting in pools,” Wilson said. “Don’t yell at bartenders because it’s taking too long to get a drink. They’re working hard and going as fast as they can.”

Parker had a couple of sobering reminders about the consequences – from embarrassing to deadly – of overindulging.

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