Cruise Ships & The Art Of Social Networking

Networking on a cruise ship is an art form. When you consider that cruises are like mini floating cities that carry up to four thousand people at a time, knowing how to connect and engage your fellow cruise passengers can make or break your holiday. Let me show you what I mean.

Attitude is everything:
Multiply the amount of people stuck with each other on a cruise by the day-to-day mishaps that life tends to throw at you and you can potentially end up with a very big boatload of crabby people. In a nutshell, attitude is everything! So if the handle to your cabin door gets wobbly, the elevator gets crowded at dinner time and show times, the buffet runs out of peach cobbler, and grandma at the next table with the faulty hearing aid talks a little too loudly for your liking, handle it all with dignity and a little humor.

Mind The Noise:
Did you know that noise is the single biggest complaint of all cruise passengers? Bearing this in mind, and the fact that not everyone shares your taste in music, do keep the volume down or wear earphones when you’re listening to music on the pool, deck or in your cabin.

Cell phones are a huge annoyance when you have to listen to someone else’s conversation, especially at meal times. Save your calls until you can find yourself a quiet spot or when you’re back at your cabin.

Respect the other passengers’ right to rest by keeping your voice and revelry down as you make your way back to your cabin after a show or after-dinner drinks at the bar with friends. And you don’t need to slam your cabin door every time you open and close it either, particularly in the early hours of the morning. Remember that there are hundreds of other cabins within earshot of each other.

Mind The Kids:
All parents adore their young children and their little antics: the way they do that funny thing with their mouths when they’ve tasted something they don’t like, that little squeal of delight as they’re being tickled, and that lopsided run that they do when they’re being chased... um, I don’t know how to break this to you, but the other cruise passengers will not see your children as ‘cute’. They’ll be more likely cursing them under their breaths. If you’re going to include your children on a cruise, it’s important that you maintain some level of control over them. If they become over stimulated – which translates to chasing each other and screaming, pressing all the buttons on the elevator, getting more water out of the hot tub than in − take them downstairs to your cabin and get them to settle down.

Control Your Alcohol Intake:
Regarding alcohol, you’re expected to have fun and enjoy a few drinks on a cruise. Hey, you’re at sea, the moon is bright, the music is good, and the comfort of your bed is only a short stroll away. However, ever heard the expressions “off your face” or “boiled as an owl”? You never want to get to this point. Firstly, it becomes unpleasant for all the other passengers who’ll have to put up with you in a drunken state. Second, for your own security, you don’t want some sleazy person taking advantage of you when you’re incoherent and vulnerable. And third, for your own health, you don’t want to end up at the infirmary because you’ve inflicted some serious damage on your organs.

Be Punctual:
Picture this scenario: You’ve docked at Cozumel in the Mayan Riviera for a bit of sightseeing. You spotted an interesting shop that has a gorgeous lace top on the window that you simply must try on. Oh, but the cruise director said that you needed to be back on the ship in 15 minutes. Maybe being 10 minutes late won’t hurt, right? Wrong. When you disembark for a day at one of the ports of call, remember that it is absolutely vital that you are punctual when returning to the ship, or risk being left behind.

Make Friends With A Variety Of People:
Cruises are all about making new friends. First there’s the chat by the pool, then drinks at the bar and, before you know it, you’re sharing each other’s life stories over dinner. But I promise you that after a few days of this with the same crowd, you’ll find yourselves wanting your own space and ducking for cover whenever you see them. The lesson here is to make friends with a variety of people on a cruise. That way, you don’t tire of each other so quickly. And every so often, do spend some time enjoying your own company. That way, you’ll avoid reaching saturation point with your new friends, and no one can ever accuse the other of stalking.

Respect Crew Members:
As with all members in the service and hospitality industries, the crew work extremely hard to make your cruise experience as enjoyable as possible. Being courteous and friendly to the crew will get you far more support and assistance than if you bark out your orders. A simple ‘thank you’ goes a very long way.

If you have a complaint, make sure that you go through the proper channels as cruise ships are huge, and not all staff members will know what you are talking about. While we’re on the subject of courtesy, do be generous with your tips, which can be given to the cruise ship staff the day before the end of your cruise. Many of them do not get paid high salaries and subsist on the generous tips from passengers. Although some cruise lines already charge US$10 per day per person on the ship account, do tip your room steward and favorite dining room waiter/waitress about US$3-4 per day, and assistant waiter US$2-3 per day. If you go on excursion in port, you can tip US$5 to the tour guide for a full day tour and US$1-2 to the driver.

Being on a cruise ship means having a plethora of high-quality shows on offer, performed by very talented artists, so remember your manners. Refrain from speaking in the middle of a performance, or, God forbid, walking out before the show is over. And don’t sit in the front row if you’re tired. Cruise entertainers work hard for their money, and the last thing they need to see as they’re belting out a song with passion is you nodding off in the front seat.

One last thing about crew members. Before you think about chatting up the gorgeous Italian cruise director who’s been flirting with you, or going in for the kill when Mr Heartthrob-Brazilian-waiter finishes his shift, hold it right there. Cruise ship management absolutely forbids any form of intimate encounter between passengers and crew members. Crew members are not allowed to enter the passengers’ rooms unless they are performing an official duty − which, I hate to tell you, does not include fulfilling your fantasies. Neither are passengers allowed to enter the restricted crew areas. Crossing these boundaries will result in you getting on the wrong side of management and the crew member losing their job.

Enjoy Your Cruise!

A last word of advice is to savor every moment of your cruise. Leave any worrying over trivia, or squabbling over incidentals, back home. The world is a wonder and a blessing, for which we should be grateful. Learn to be in the moment as traveling is just as much about the journey as it is about the destination.

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