A German couple, Renate and her husband Volker, were thrown off a Mein Schiff cruise for something they did in their cabin that they thought was fine to do. They weren’t aware of the cabin rules which, if broken, could see passengers like them, you and I disembarked, banned for life, fined, or have our possessions confiscated.
Here’s what we must not do in our cabins, including as you will see later what Renate and Volker got wrong.
But first, you will get disembarked and banned for life if you to do what Nick Naydev did.
He jumped off his Royal Caribbean balcony into the ocean in Nassau for fun, and to show off to his travelling companions, who filmed it. He, and those friends, are banned for life from cruising.
A female passenger on Allure of the Seas was even banned for climbing onto her balcony handrail to pose for photographs.
Climbing and standing on your cabin balcony railings while sailing is dangerous. People going overboard a ship are rarely found. If you fall onto the dockside in port, you are unlikely to survive.
If travelling with children, make sure they are not left alone on the balcony and understand the risk.
And while we’re out on the balcony there some other things that can get you into trouble.
Smoking and Vaping
With few exceptions, like some German lines, you are not allowed to smoke or vape on your balcony, or cabin either.
If your neighbours complain about you doing this on the balcony, and you do not stop when warned, you can be thrown off. Friends saw this happen to neighbours on a recent Caribbean cruise.
If you smoke or vape in your cabin, lines will charge fees of $250 upwards to clean the room.
As an aside, if you do sneakily smoke on the balcony don’t throw the match or cigarette butt over the side. They can get sucked back into the ship and cause a fire.
A fire on the Star Princess in 2006 was blamed on this. One man died, 11 were injured and over 100 cabins were seriously damaged by fire.
Still out of the balcony there is mor you should not do, which is where we return to Renate and her husband Volker.
They were thrown off their Caribbean cruise after making love very loudly with their balcony door open. In what the cruise line called “a security-related incident”.
This raises a few cabin do nots.
First, if you do want to have sex on the balcony or sunbath in the nude, consider cruise lines have CCTV covering the exterior and so balconies. So, your efforts may be recorded.
The barriers between balconies often have gaps making it unavoidable, or certainly easy, for your neighbours to spectate.
Second, noise on the balcony that disturbs neighbours the lines frown upon.
If you blast music through those wireless speakers you packed, or play a musical instrument, and they get complaints, those will be confiscated.
Renate and Volker’s noise disturbed but also broke another cabin rule, which is to keep the balcony door closed. I know some cruisers like to jam it open to hear the ocean when sleeping.
It plays havoc with the air-conditioning and energy use, but if sailing and the cabin door is opened by someone entering or leaving it creates a wind tunnel effect that blows things all around the cabin.
Talking of issues in the cabin, here are what get most people get into hot water – literally.
That kettle you packed you cannot use. You can’t use anything with a heating element in your cabin unless provided by the line.
Some lines sailing out of the UK do provide kettles or coffee makers. But you cannot plug in anything with a heating element you brought.
This includes irons, baby bottle warmers, electric blankets, and hot plates.
Most lines allow personal hair dryers, even though they provide them, and now curling tongs.
But how you plug them in is also a potential problem
You cannot use an extension cord with a surge protector, as it could damage a ship electrical system which works differently to those on land. It will be confiscated, usually when your luggage is screened at boarding.
When you leave the cabin, you cannot leave things like cameras, phones, iPads, toothbrushes, and so on to charge.
I have occasionally forgotten and found that cabin stewards are required to unplug those, as they are seen as a fire risk. And fire is what lines fear the most at sea.
This fear of fire is also why cannot light candles, incense burners or anything with a flame.
The smoke alarms in cabins are set to be highly sensitive, and so it could rain on your parade even if you did.
If you want something to create that ambience, take some battery operator tea lights, which is what cruise lines use in their restaurants.
Before you dig into the minibar take care.
A few years back, assuming all drinks on the ship were covered by my top range drinks’ package, I used the minibar. Luckily, I spotted charges appearing for everything, including sodas. The prices per item are, like hotel mini-bars high.
If you have a drink package check if this is included. I didn’t find any that are.
This is important as more lines have drinks’ packages within fares, like Celebrity “Always Included”, Princess Plus, Holland America “Have It All” and Norwegian “Free at Sea”.
If you are in a suite, like when I was in Cunard Queens Grill, or on one of the Ultra-Luxury lines like Seabourn, drinks in the minibar may be included.
One watch-out is also water. Some lines include bottled water in the cabin and some not. So, check to avoid unexpected costs.
If you take items from your cabin on disembarkation, like umbrellas, bathrobes, binoculars, and so on, expect a generous charge to appear on your credit card for them.
The lines give you the option of buying those and it’s a cheaper to do it that way first.
What about things like toiletries?
Here I am guilty.
While many lines are scrapping the miniature bottles in favour of the large installed refillable pump dispensers, some do have fancy brand name in individual small bottles.
I slowly stash away those if they are a fancy brand like L’Occitane or Milton Brown, which I love, and if they get replenished, I figure it’s safe to take those home.
Though the next item you are likely to be charged for.
Walls And Doors
Cabin walls, and most doors, are metal and you can stick things to them with magnets without worrying.
If you use sticky tape or other adhesives to stick things on the wall or put-up door decorations and damage them, you could be charged for repairs.
Post-it notes to leave notes for your Cabin Steward or travelling companions and do not damage the walls.
One watch-out on door decorations is that almost all lines, except for Norwegian Cruise Line at time of recording, allow them. Though they must be made of non-flammable materials. Again, that fear of fires.
Once in the bathroom, there are a few things you should not do.
Having been on a few cruises where toilets stopped working thanks to fellow passengers, it is frustrating as easily avoided.
Never flush anything other than the supplied toilet tissue down the toilet. The toilets work on a suction system and are easily blocked. Products like wipes and feminine hygiene products are the most common causes of problems like we had.
Instead wrap them in toilet tissue or the supplied bags and use the small rubbish bin in all cruise bathrooms.
You’ll find a retractable washing line in the bathroom, in the shower or above the bath.
This is because you shouldn’t hang things out to dry on your balcony, where they can easily get blown off into the ocean and, in addition to losing it, it is bad for marine life and protecting the ocean.
It’s also happened to me, and others I know, where I’ve stepped out of the bathroom stark-bollock naked to find the cabin steward cleaning or doing turndown.
I now pop the “Do Not Disturb” sign on my door in the morning or when showering and getting ready.
Also, as you step out the bathroom consider you could find another ship docked close by, and people looking in. This is more of an issue on a river cruise where the ship will be two or three feet away only.
Consideration for neighbours
If you have late-night parties or are noisy in your cabin and disturb neighbours, the line’s security is likely to shut it down. Do it repeatedly, and lines are known to throw cruisers off.
But there is another consideration.
Loud music and TVs do carry through the walls, as they are not that soundproof.
On a recent Seabourn cruise the next-door cabin were avid late-night and very early morning full volume TV watchers which carried into our cabin clearly. It was annoying and out a dampener on our enjoyment of our cabin, so do consider the impact noise can have on others.
This brings me on to one that people have told me they disagree with when I suggested it previously.
I try to not make a lot of mess in my cabin. Cabin stewards have a lot of work and cabins to clean and care for. Many lines have increased how many they must cover.
They are on six- or nine-month contracts working seven days a week, long hours, and while it is their job, making it a bit easier seems a great thing to do.
If they can spend less time cleaning up, it means more time to do those extra touches and sort our issues or needs for us too.
ABOUT TIPS FOR TRAVELLERS
Gary Bembridge’s Tips For Travellers aims to help you make more of your precious travel time and money on land and when cruising the oceans or rivers of the world. To help you, in every video I draw on my first-hand tips and advice from travelling every month for over 20 years and average of 10 cruises a year.
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