The mistakes you make on a cruise that can ruin your trip — and how to avoid them

If you've booked your first cruise or are thinking about booking one, you may need advice on how to avoid blunders that can ruin your journey — a sort of a sailing-for-landlubbers guide.

Here are 10 gaffes to avoid:


First things first: Don't call it a boat; it's a ship. There are exceptions, but basically, a ship can carry a boat but a boat can't carry a ship.

Also, a ship's captain will get annoyed if you refer to his vessel as a boat, but a boat's captain doesn't care if you call his vessel a ship.

Party time: If you're interested in relaxing, stay away from weekend cruises, which can turn into re-creations of National Lampoon's "Animal House."

But if you're a party-hearty cruiser, it might be the kind of craziness you're seeking.

Get nautical: Try to learn the difference between forward, aft, port and starboard before you sail off into the sunset.

It's easy to get disoriented when you're at sea and you'd probably hate to end up at the wrong end of the ship when free Champagne is flowing — not to mention what would happen if you couldn't find your lifeboat when you're supposed to be abandoning ship.

Timely advice: Be sure to get to the ship on time, every time. It won't wait for you.

That means you should plan to arrive at your departure destination a day in advance so airport delays, a broken axle, or plain old dawdling won't stop you from getting to the dock before the ship sails.

Remember to be on time at port stops too.

Honeymooners beware: If you're trying to save money, you may be tempted to book the least expensive cabin.

Don't do it until you've made sure you're not booking a room with bunk beds.

Sound waves: While we're discussing honeymooners, let's talk about how sound travels. Your neighbors probably don't want to hear what you're doing in your cabin, especially late at night. So tone it down.

They also don't want to go out on their balconies and see you cavorting on yours.

Dress for success: When you're traveling abroad, the rule of thumb is to dress conservatively. In many countries, you shouldn't wear a bathing suit to town and you should wear a scarf if visiting a church or temple.


Don't flash a wallet full of cash or wear expensive jewelry and watches, either, a safety, not a modesty tip.

If you're on a Caribbean cruise, be aware that many countries prohibit visitors from wearing camouflage print clothing. It's against the law for anyone who isn't part of their military. You could be arrested.

Culture is king: Don't disrespect the culture of the country you're visiting. You can brush up a bit by doing a simple Google search.

Picture perfect: Whether on the ship or at a cruise port, control your selfie tendencies. Don't hog the best angle and ignore others who would like to trade places with you.

At port stops, always ask before shooting photos of a local person. Also, follow the rules about photography in historical places, and don't photograph military buildings without permission.

Obey local laws: If you're in Singapore, there are plenty of things you can't do: feed birds, smoke, spit or eat or drink on public transit. You could be fined for any of these.

Even laid-back Amsterdam has rules; you won't be fined, but cyclists hate it when you walk in their bike lanes. (You could also get hit.)