When it comes to cruising, there’s a lot of autonomy to do pretty much whatever you want, whenever you want. Yet, there are things you want to avoid like the plague when on a cruise. Because if you’re not careful, it could cost you a lot. And not just money.

5. Watch Where You Puff

For those that like to smoke, there are designated areas on the ship that allow it, including the casino, some lounges and other places the ship will designate. But there are two places you absolutely should not smoke.

In your room and on the balcony.

Smoking in your room will get you kicked off the ship at the next port with very few questions asked. And not just the person who smoked. Everyone in that stateroom will get the boot too. What makes things worse is that the cruise line will not help you with the cost of getting back home. Not only that, you could get hit with a fine. Carnival Cruise Line will charge up to $500 for the infraction.

Since smoking in the room is clearly a bad idea, you might think smoking on the balcony is better. If you do, you’re gambling with cutting your vacation short. And all the same penalties for smoking in the room will be enforced for smoking on the balcony.

Why the stiff penalty?

Because having a fire while on the ocean is one of the most dangerous things that can happen at sea. Not just for a cruise ship but fire on any ship at sea. The ashes that are flicked overboard can catch and ignite a fire. The crew is trained on how to handle a fire in the event it happens. But if it does, it will ruin everyone’s day and the remainder of their time at sea until getting to a port.

It’s recommended that when cruising you carry a passport for identification. It is possible to cruise on a closed-loop voyage with a birth certificate. If you choose to do this and you’re kicked off the ship for any reason, you won’t be able to fly back home. 

So if you like to smoke, think twice about doing it in a location that is prohibited on a cruise ship.

4. Say No to Strangers

Let’s say you got off the ship on an island. You start up a conversation with a nice person while there. After spending some time with them, you decide they’re someone you can trust. They ask you to take something back to the ship with you for their family back in the states. Sounds reasonable enough.

Until you get busted for transporting drugs. It sounds crazy. But it happens. The rule of thumb to use is the same one you follow at the airport. Don’t let anyone handle your bags and don’t take bags from strangers. Otherwise, you might discover you smuggled 9 kilos of cocaine onboard with you.

3. I’ve Got Time

Going on excursions is a highlight of cruising. Some of those excursions can be a distance away from the port. And depending on where it is, there’s a possibility of running into traffic. All of these factors can mean you might miss your ship. 

Contrary to what you might think, what could cause you to miss the ship isn’t the traffic or the distance the excursion is from the ship. It has more to do with where you booked your excursion.

Once you get off the ship at a port, you might be greeted by locals offering to take you on a tour of the island or some other excursion. Your safety isn’t the major concern here. These islands and their residents make their money off tourism. Getting a reputation for robbing and assaulting tourists is bad for business. 

So far, so good. Everything seems like it’s legitimate. And it probably will be. But ask yourself:  Is the vehicle you’re being transported in being maintained properly? What happens if it breaks down on the way back? 

What will happen is that if you get back after the all-aboard time, there may not be a ship there to board. That’s a scary thought. Because just like the passenger who smokes in non-designated areas, you too will have to find your way back home or to the next port at your own expense. 

Some experienced cruisers might tell you that people are still boarding the ship well after the all-aboard time. And that’s true, particularly on big ships. Processing all those people can take some time. But don’t depend on that if you choose to book a private excursion.

Sometimes the reason passengers are still getting on the ship well past the designated all-aboard time is because they are returning from excursions. Excursions booked through the cruise line.  

So even if the excursion booked through the cruise line was stuck in the same traffic as the private excursion, the ship is obligated to wait for everyone coming back on a cruise sponsored excursion. Even if it’s after the all-aboard time. If the bus breaks down, the ship must wait. 

So if you’re the type who is always trying to find a deal, you can get one at the port. You can even book one before you leave for your cruise. But just know, saving a few bucks on an excursion could cost you hundreds if you miss the ship.

2. Do Unto Others…

It’s an extremely rare occasion when service will be subpar on a cruise. The staff will try to accommodate all of your concerns. There may be occasions when things don’t go the way you planned. Should that happen, don’t yell at or mistreat the staff. This can get you kicked off faster than smoking in the wrong place.

Some things that might cause irritation could be seeing charges on your bill that you don’t recognize. Or perhaps you took a beach towel to the cruise line private island and you returned it when you got back to port. But when you got back to your stateroom after dinner you found a paper on your bed saying you didn’t return your towel. 

If you have a complaint, don’t call down to guest services yelling. Don’t walk down to guest services and do the same thing either. And definitely don’t threaten them. If you do, they might put you in cruise jail (yes, there is such a thing). And when the ship arrives at the next port, they’ll kick you off and not look back.

1. Don’t Make a Connection

This one is so important, it was saved for last. 

When you board the ship, your phone is still connected to the cell towers at the port. Once you get away from land, you’ll switch to the ship’s tower. If you don’t put your phone in airplane mode, you can find yourself staring at a phone bill that has hundreds or even thousands of dollars in roaming fees. 

You may want to turn on wifi and use the ship’s app. But beyond that, make sure your phone stays in airplane mode. 

All the tips we’ve given focus on saving money. In another article, we’ll discuss some other things you shouldn’t do from the aspect of making your time onboard as enjoyable as possible.

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