Things You Cannot Do On A Cruise Any More

What are the things you used to be able to do in a cruise that you can do no longer?

Watch my video about things you can’t do on a cruise any more

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First of all, you can no longer smoke or vape in your cabin, around the ship, in the dining room and even on your balcony. Way back in the “good old days” you were able to smoke everywhere on the ship, and then slowly that has become less and less, until pretty much every single cruise ship that I’m aware of, you’re not even allowed to smoke or vape on your balcony any longer.

They have very specific areas on the ship, and increasingly fewer parts of the ship, where you can go to smoke. On almost all cruise ships, the rules for vaping is the same as the rules for actual cigarette smoking. Some ships will have specific smoking rooms or bars, for example on Princess they have Churchills.

On some cruise lines they still have smoking either on some or all nights in the casino, although this is slowly being phased out. As a smoker it’s a real challenge and a good friend of ours, who’s a smoker, is
questioning going cruising because they are finding a really restrictive on where they can smoke.

MSC Cruises Lirica Passengers would always get involved in the on-deck entertainment, dances and competitions


Secondly, with the clamp down and increase in security you are no longer able to, on pretty much every
single Cruise Line, bring guests on board. In the grand old days of the liners, people would come on board with their friends and family and have a look at the cabin, have a wander around the ship and there would be an announcement made for visitors to leave the ship before it sailed.

Nowadays it’s almost impossible to visit friends on a ship. Even if you go on a ship tour, so for example I go on various tours on ships and it’s quite a big deal you have to send your passport details in advance and it’s really strictly controlled. So, having friends, families and guests on board is pretty much now impossible on any single Cruise Line.

In the “good old days”, you could bring friends on board in a port and perhaps have them on board for lunch, but this is no longer possible.

Streamer Sail Away

The third thing that you can no longer do on a cruise, and one that a real pity, is have the big streamer sail away. Even as recently as the 70s and into the 80s when you sailed away, you were given streamers and you could throw them overboard.

If you go back and look at some of the old classic liner photographs, you’ll see as they sail away passengers throwing streamers over the side of the ship. It was a big part of the cruising tradition. Of course, as there’s much more awareness around the environment, things like throwing streamers over the side of the ship was seen it has a really bad thing and so all that has stopped.

Message in Bottles

The fourth one is linked to that, and you are no longer able to throw anything overboard. It’s one of things that you will hear in the safety and the welcome briefing that you cannot throw anything overboard.

Not being able to throw things overboard has meant that some traditions, like the message in a bottle, have also disappeared. It used to be a relatively popular activity where people would get bottles, put their
name and address on a little message in it and throw them overboard, and hope that the currents will take them somewhere and they would hear from people who found them.

In the Captain’s Chair on Bridge of Cunard Queen Elizabeth.


Throwing things into the ocean is really frowned upon, which leads on to the next thing which is they used to actually be some sports and activities that you would do in a cruise ship which did involve you hitting things overboard! They used to practice golf, for example, putting into the sea sand some ships used to have clay pigeon shooting.

There were a whole set of games that you would play which involved hitting things off the ship into the ocean.

Hand Shaking

An interesting recent development on things you can no longer do on certain cruise lines is shake
hands. Some cruise lines or the individual captains are asking that you do not shake hands and the crew themselves will refuse to shake hands.

Some of them might do a fist bump or some of them basically a nod, and the reason for that is one of the easiest ways to spread the norovirus is through touch. If you touched hands and then you end up touching your mouth and you ingest it.

A lot of the cruise lines are moving towards not shaking hands and encouraging you as passengers not to shake hands. So, shaking hands may increasingly become something that you just don’t do on a cruise anymore.


Visiting the bridge and an open bridge used to be a really common part of cruising and it was very easy to get access to the bridge. Some cruise lines do not have any access to the bridge, so there are no bridge tours.

Some cruise lines will allow access to the bridge in a very controlled manner and normally through a paid-for activities like a behind the scene tour which will include a short visit to the bridge. So, few people actually get onto the bridge at all and then some will only have very selected guests which they might invite like people who perhaps been cruising for a very long time or a VIP.

On some of the smaller cruise lines or perhaps on a river cruise, they do still have an open bridge policy where you’re able to go in pretty easily and frequently. Getting access to the bridge and being able to visit the bridge and tour the bridge is increasingly becoming something that you used to be able to do very easy on a cruise and is becoming less and less easy to do.

MSC Cruises MSC Preziosa in Hamburg for Hamburg Cruise Days. For more:

Switch Off

I think one of the most interesting things that you can’t do on a cruise that you used to be able to do is completely switch off. Not that long ago Wi-Fi connectivity was pretty difficult and very expensive and if you went on a cruise, particularly with lots of sea days, you were able to really disconnect and switch off.

However, driven by a demand particularly of younger cruisers and people liking to be more connected, the cruise lines are constantly improving and increasing the speed, access and price of being connected on Wi-Fi.
It is now easy on many cruise lines to be connected on completely unlimited Wi-Fi for relatively reasonable amounts of money. More cruise lines on the premium end are also including Wi-Fi within the fare, so you can be connected all the time within your fare.

Not that long ago you had to switch off you switch your phone and not get emails as it was hard to be connected, and you really could switch off on a cruise. Disconnecting is something you used to be able to do on a cruise, but much less so now.

Crew Socialising

You also used to be able to socialize with the crew much more, more mingling, parties and interaction between the crew and the passengers. This is almost forbidden nowadays. There will be certain opportunities to socialise with the crew like senior crew might invite you to a large cocktail party or host tables on some cruises.

The cruise lines are becoming stricter on those interactions with the crew and if you go back and look at the old liner days, you’ll find there’s lots of cocktail parties and more mixing and socializing between the crew and passengers.

The cruise lines have much stricter rules. Even if you strike up a friendship with perhaps the gym instructor or other crew, even meeting on land is frowned on. For example, we became very friendly on a big stretch of a world cruise with some of the people in the spa and we said why don’t we meet to perhaps go out and do some stuff on land, and they were like we cannot do that because the rules say that we can’t fraternize and mix with passengers. I guess that sort of makes sense but certainly you used to be able to mix with the crew much more now and they are kept much more at arm’s length.

Final Thoughts

If you can think of anything else that you used to be able to do on a cruise but can no longer do, I’d love to hear what those are -anything that I’ve missed.

Why don’t you watch many more of my Tips For Travellers videos, they’re packed full of advice and tips to help you make the most of your precious travel time and money on land, on sea and on the rivers of the world.

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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.

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