When you're on a ship at sea, the captain is always king. You might not be lucky enough to sit at his table for dinner, but remember that you are a subject of his kingdom. For smooth sailing on the seas, remember your proper etiquette, but also keep in mind a few extra rules:
Don't delay planning your trip, or you could be one of the handful of guests who are denied entry because they do not have the proper papers. You will need a current passport when traveling abroad, of course, and so will children of any age, including infants. Travel to some countries may require a visa. Check with your cruise line to learn about the documentation you will need for your trip.
You will be on holiday and having fun, but keep your eye on the clock so you don't miss your next destination. Set the time on your phone as a reminder.
Don't overpack! Remember that you'll need to leave room in your luggage for purchases on the trip. It never hurts to pack an extra duffle bag, just in case. Always keep your personal possessions with you, such as makeup, jewelry, and medications. Who knows what time your luggage will reach your stateroom?
Entertainment: Poolside and Shows
Saving seats is a big no-no. There are plenty of places to sit by the pools and in the ballrooms. If your deck chair is left unattended except by a ship towel, it will be confiscated. When your children are at the pool, keep an eye on them so they don't make too much noise. For toddlers, swim diapers are mandatory in the kiddie pool.
Help yourself, but be swift with your selections so you don't hold up the line. The lines are always long on large ships, but you can always go back for seconds.
Dining and Dress Code
Most cruises state their dress code very clearly. Read up on this ahead of time and pack accordingly. And remember: It's always best to be overdressed than underdressed. There is a time and a place for bathing suits, and it's outdoors, not in the dining room.
Kids on Board
Don't forget to manage the little ones. Reading children the ship's rules before and after they board is important. And remember: Children can get lost if unattended. There are ample adventures waiting for the young set on most cruises, including organized activities. Many ships also have child care facilities as well as babysitters for hire. Just make sure you know where your children are at all times and that they are being cared for.
Unless you're sailing on a luxury cruise line where gratuities are included, be sure to tip maids and wait staff. The ship will provide guidelines for tipping.
Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (www.lisagrotts.com), certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on www.Twitter.com/LisaGrotts and www.Facebook.com/LisaGrotts.