Cruise Rules Passengers Break Most Often

Cruise Rules Passengers Break Most OftenCruise Rules Passengers Break Most Often

You’re about to discover the 10 cruise rules that passengers break most often.

Watch the video

Watch on YouTube:

There are quite a few rules that cruise lines have for passengers, and here I look at the 10 that I’ve
observed being broken more than any of the others.

Health Form

The first rule that gets broken is people lying on the health declaration form when they check in. When you check into a cruise, there is a form that you normally have to fill in to confirm that you haven’t been suffering from stomach upsets, diarrhoea or vomiting in the last 24 or 48 hours.

People who are suffering often say they haven’t, because they’re worried about the consequences. Will they be allowed on the cruise? Will they be confined to their cabin?

There is a risk for other passengers, because if you’re suffering from those, you could be bringing on board the virus which will cause norovirus. This can spread quickly through a ship and take a lot of people down with it. So, that is one rule that you often see people lying about, because they worried about the consequences to their particular cruise and are not always thinking about the consequences for the whole ship and other passengers on board.


The next rule is sneaking alcohol on board. Most cruise lines have restrictions and regulations around how much alcohol you can bring on board. That is both for when you board, but also during the course of the cruise.

They’ll take excess alcohol away from you and hold it until the end of the cruise – even if you buy duty-free alcohol on board. A lot of passengers break that rule and find ways of bringing it on board, either by trying to smuggle it on, with innovative and clever ways, or just ignoring the rule and chancing their arm.

Buying drinks on board can be quite expensive, and so that’s a rule you’ll often hear people talking about breaking and you’ll find on many of the cruise forums there are lots of tips and advice about how to sneak alcohol onto ships. It’s a very popular rule to

Muster Drill

The third rule, which is actually now quite difficult to break, is not attending the muster drill or the safety briefing. In recent years, the rules around attending that has increased significantly, and that’s particularly after some incidents and accidents.

Most cruise lines will either take a register or scan your cruise card to make sure that you’ve gone. If you don’t attend a muster station, you’re likely to find that you are refused to go on the cruise, or you have to go to a separate briefing event.

It used to be quite popular for people to try and skip it and still you’ll find when you’re on a cruise they’re often calling people’s names because they haven’t gone to the muster drill.

Dress Code

The next one is around dress codes.

Some cruise lines have very strict rules around dress code, for example, if you go on a Cunard cruise, they have very strict formal nights or gala nights where gentleman have to wear a black suit and tie or a tuxedo and ladies wear equivalent like glamorous gowns or cocktail gowns. Even on their less formal nights, the gentlemen are required to wear a jacket with no tie. They have a strict rule.

You’ll find, no matter which cruise you go on, there will be people breaking the dress code rule. I’m finding that as people start to ignore the dress code, the cruise lines though are not actually being that strict about enforcing it.

There are certain cruise lines that are very picky like on a Cunard Cruise or perhaps on a P&O cruise, where they have much stricter dress codes. Some cruise lines turn a blind eye to it, so you’re finding increasingly ignoring the dress code rule is one thing that’s becoming pretty widespread, because cruise lines are not actually enforcing it that much.


The fifth rule is one that probably causes the most upsets and the most conflict, and that’s around reserving seats.

The first big problem is around the pool or pool deck, where people will basically dump stuff to reserve a Sun bed and then disappear for many hours. Most cruise lines have rules that say if your seat is unoccupied for thirty minutes, they will remove the stuff and let that sun bed that you’ve been reserving be taken by somebody else.

However, again the enforcement of those rules by cruise lines is very patchy. People have learnt if they reserved a sun bed, they’re probably going to have it all day.

The second area where I see a lot of it happening is in the theatres where people will book a whole bunch of seats for their friends or family and wait for them to come. Again, that’s an area with a lot of conflict, and you will find the cruise lines are always making announcements about not reserving seats.

Reserving seats is one of the most argued about and controversial (surprisingly) of all of the rules that passengers get upset about.


The next rule is also one that probably causes some upset and this is smoking or vaping on
balconies. Most cruise lines don’t allow you to smoke or vape on your balcony. A lot of people still go out on the balcony and smoke because their view is that if you’re at sea the smoke is going to dissipate.

However, it is a strict rule and the cruise lines are more likely to enforce it if people do report you smoking on your balcony. It’s unusual for people to break the rule about smoking in their cabins because they will get hit with a cleaning fee if they do so. A lot of people often ignore the smoking rules on balconies.

The cruise lines I’ve been on recently have the same rules for smoking as they do have for vaping.

Pools and Hot Tubs

Another bunch of rules that I see being broken a lot, and I see a lot of discussion around that, are the rules around use of the pools and the hot tubs.

Most cruise lines have a lot of rules and regulations because very few of the cruise lines (at the time of this) have lifeguards around the pool. A few of the more family orientated cruise lines are introducing lifeguards, like MSC Cruises.

Lines have a lot of rules around safety, running and diving around the pool as the pools are quite small.

A lot of them also have less formal rules or restrictions around which pools are allocated for adults only and which are for kids, or at certain times in the day when kids allowed to use the pool, restricted times hot tubs can be used, the age of people in the hot tub and so on. I found, generally speaking, often those rules get broken and are ignored by passengers.

Again, the cruise lines are not that good at enforcing that, maybe because the crew are worried they’re going to get a lot of push back.


The next one we’ve all seen people do it, and I’ve been as guilty of doing it as everybody else, is around taking food off the ship.

In some countries local regulations do not allow you to take food from the ship onto land. Often the
cruise lines stress that you must not take any form of food on land, though often this is more applicable to things like fruit, nuts and those kind of more agricultural type items.

We’ve all done it when we’re out for a long day on an excursion and at breakfast we pack a couple of pastries or some rolls and cheese. However, it could have some big penalties because there are some parts of the world that I’ve been to where they do checks with sniffer dogs to check that you’re not taking product and produce onto land.

But, it’s one that you will see being broken quite a lot.


The next one is one that probably does frustrate me a bit when it comes to rule breaking, and this is around the meet up time for excursions.

When out on an excursion the time to get back to the bus or the meet-up point is ignored by some people, because they know generally speaking, they are not likely to be left behind. It is frustrating on an excursion when this happens as it’s always going to be held up by the people who decide to come last – and often it’s the same people because they know the guides are not going to leave without them. Everyone has to wait until they are back even if 10 minutes, 15 minutes or even longer than that.

Also, when you’re checking for excursions in the morning, you’ll find you’re waiting because they’re waiting for a few people to arrive to get the full number of people for tickets that have been sold before you depart.

The pace of excursions and the timing of excursions is always going to be defined by whoever’s the slowest. Breaking that rule might get you a little bit of extra time, but it’s not really great for the other people who on that excursion.


The next rule is really a set of rules that can have serious consequences. Whilst the other rules are perhaps a little bit frustrating, and a little bit annoying, they don’t necessarily have dramatic and terrible consequences for passengers.

For example, the rule about not sitting on the railing of your balcony or around the ship. The
way that people have fallen off a ship is when they’re messing around sitting or standing on the railings of balconies, or perhaps climbing up on the balcony to go from one cabin to the next. People have either fallen on to dockside or they’ve fallen off the ship.

Another really important rule is about fraternising with the crew. If you go into the crew areas, the crew member could find themselves fired and you could find yourself disembarked.

There are strict rules around passengers not going into crew areas and, of course, there’s some around treating people with respect. If you damage property or have a punch-up fight with someone, you’re also very like to find yourself disembarked at the next port at your own cost.

There’s a bunch of rules there that are probably much more fundamental people and you know that if you do things that are illegal there are big consequences.

If you found this interesting and helpful, please watch my Tips For Travellers videos as they’re packed full of tips and advice to help you make the most of your precious travel time and money:

Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply