For many cruisers based in the Middle East a cruise is a relatively new experience and can be a little overwhelming. For this reason, Cruise Arabia & Africa has put together a list of dos and don’ts for our readers taking to the high seas for the first time.
Cruise vacations are a unique holiday experience in that they allow one to travel to a range of interesting destinations in comfort and style, at a cost that is significantly less than a comparative travel experience on land. For this reason, the popularity of cruising has exploded over the past decade, with the Middle Eastern cruise industry expected to double by 2015, according to reports by Travel and Tourism News.
For many cruisers based in the Middle East, however, this form of holiday is a relatively new experience and can be a little overwhelming. For this reason, Cruise Arabia has put together a list of dos and don’ts for our readers taking to the seas for the first time.
Pay attention to the safety drill. The Costa Concordia disaster was a perfect example of why this mandatory drill is so important. Cruise ships nowadays are huge, and sometimes packed with thousands of people. When things go wrong, you want to know exactly where to go and how the evacuation process works. Don’t talk and if you take a few novelty photos of your group wearing their lifejackets, do it discreetly. If there’s ever a time to be serious on your cruise vacation, this is it.
Remember that a ship is different to a hotel. Cruise ships are essentially floating hotels, but their design is unique in that onboard spaces, especially corridors and elevator lobbies, tend to be narrow than on land, they’re also a lot busier. If you can take the stairs instead of the elevator, do it, so that older passengers can use it instead. If your group needs to stop to check the ship’s layout or if you’re lost, stop in an area that isn’t a through-flow. If you cant decide what you want at the breakfast buffet, let the person behind you past, and in the cafes and restaurants onboard, don’t hog the tables for six if you’re a group of three.
Remember deck chairs are for everyone. One of the greatest pet-peeves of any seasoned cruisers is when fellow passengers ‘reserve’ deck chairs by placing their belongings on it the entire day, even if it isn’t used for several hours. In peak cruise season, and especially in warm weather climates, deck chairs become high-demand real estate and hogging them to yourself isn’t considered courteous.
Don’t save seats. Speaking of which, don’t ‘reserve’ seats in the theatre in this way either. If you’re in a group that wants to sit together for the show, arrive together early to find space, or sit apart. If you’re a relatively small group of four, you can get away with saving seats for a few minutes, but one person reserving seven seats for his party of eight is not the done thing.
Keep your kids under control. Cruise ships are extremely popular with families because they are a relatively safe and controlled environment in which children and adults alike can pursue their own interests and entertainment. However, as on land, being on holiday doesn’t mean you can stop being a parent. Your children should only be left unattended in the children’s areas of the ship, if you’re aboard a cruise ship that has such facilities, or when in the care of child minders. In the restaurants and around the family pool, your children shouldn’t be allowed to run wild and disturb other passengers. And don’t try to sneak your teenage kids into adults only areas of the ship, like the quiet pool, nightclubs, bars, gym, spa or Jacuzzis.
Talk quietly. Whether you’re in a common area of the ship or in your cabin, or especially if you’re on your cabin balcony, always remember that you’re one of hundreds of fellow passengers aboard the ship. Cabin walls are not as sound-proof as you might imagine, and neither are the doors – your neighbours don’t want to hear about how all the food you’ve eaten has given you gas.
Arrive on time. Don’t saunter into the evening show after it has already begun, it’s annoying for fellow passengers and is insulting to the performers, especially if you’re aboard a smaller cruise ship with a more ‘intimate’ show lounge, rather than a large theatre.
Does the cruise industry have an onboard crime problem?
Follow the dress code. Cruise ships are a wonderful way to experience the golden age of travel, harkening back to a time when elegant ocean liners crossed the world’s oceans carrying the rich and famous to exotic destinations. Cruise lines try to hold on that this with formal evenings and gala dinners at which passengers meet the captain and mingle with one another at the beginning of the cruise. Have respect for the ship’s dress code, as fellow passengers who have made the effort will judge you if you arrive for formal night in the main dining room wearing jeans and t-shirt. If you don’t want to dress up, have dinner at one of the casual dining options, like the lido.