I’ve worked on cruise ships for 6 years. Here are the 10 things I wish passengers would stop doing.

Cruise ship employees standing in front of the boat
I’ve seen my fair share of good and bad guest behavior. Erica DePascale
  • I’ve worked on a major cruise line for six years and have interacted with many different guests.
  • Referring to the crew as “the workers” and asking about our salary can be awkward and rude.
  • Arriving at the ship late can cost the cruise money and create more work for the crew.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

After working on cruise ships for six years and traveling to over 65 countries, I’ve seen a lot of situations and heard plenty of commentary from passengers.

So here are 10 things I wish guests would stop doing:

Referring to crew members as ‘the workers’ is not preferable

Cruise ship staff posing for a photo on the deck of the ship
The term is uninviting. Erica DePascale for Insider

There’s just something behind those words that sounds uninviting. We prefer to be called the crew or employees.

Although the service’s vibe may be different than that of a typical restaurant on land, the crew is one big happy family and excited to deliver fun vacations.

There’s no reason to immediately ask for upgrades when the ship is full

Most of the time, there will be signage or announcements at the guest-services desk on boarding day if the ship is sold out.

These signs will state that there are no upgrades available, and you should believe them. So many guests stand in long lines just to double-check.

Some rooms may become available if people don’t show up, but the staff won’t know until after leaving the port. So it’s best to call down to guest services a few hours after departure and ask then.

Leaving dishes on the ground can be a safety hazard

There is no designated spot to put your trash on cruises. You usually enjoy your drinks and food, then leave the dishes on the table for the attendants to clean as a part of the awesome relaxation experience.

But I often see people leave dishes and glasses on the ground, in the corner of elevators, and even in the middle of staircases.

This is very dangerous for other guests – I’ve seen people get injured by glasses on walkways – so please find the nearest table or bar to leave your dishes.

Don’t ask the crew if we live on the ship

Cruise ship employees posing for a photo in a room
Crew members live in cabins. Erica DePascale

Despite popular belief, we do not helicopter or jet ski to work every day.

We live, work, eat, breathe, and sleep on board.

Returning late to the ship can cause a headache for you and the staff

Over my six years, I’ve seen many guests sprint down the pier to catch the ship on port days.

Although there is a slight difference between the all-aboard call and the ship’s actual departure, it’s crucial to be on time.

Usually, the ship gets charged per minute overtime at the port, which is why most cruises will not wait for late passengers (unless they are on a company-sponsored tour).

Plus then guest services has to figure out how to get visas, passports, and other documentation because of your mistake.

Many guests save pool-deck chairs and never actually use them

Cruise ship deck with blue chairs and long pool
Only reserve a chair if you plan to use it. Oskar SCHULER/Shuttershock

When the ship is having a sea day, the pool-deck chairs are usually reserved by towel holders before 8 a.m., but many passengers who claim one don’t even use it.

Ship decks are smaller than land resorts, so please only reserve a chair if you plan on sitting in it at some point so other guests can enjoy the pool, too.

Scheduling changes are inconvenient – but don’t blame the crew

Many guests save money for years to go on a cruise and have their entire itinerary planned to the minute, but if there’s ever an unexpected change to the schedule, just know it’s absolutely essential.

Sometimes ports will be substituted or skipped because of bad weather or things will be delayed due to a medical emergency.

The crew understands and shares that disappointment – it’s hard for us to rapidly change schedules too. Most times when this happens, it’s out of our control.

Just know we’re doing everything in our power to give you the best possible experience while keeping you extremely safe.

You wouldn’t usually ask people about their salary on land, so don’t do so on board either

You most likely wouldn’t go into a restaurant and ask the chef what they’re paid, but that’s a touchy and uncomfortable question we get all of the time.

Guests often ask the crew how much money we make – maybe because some believe we get paid low wages, which simply isn’t true.

Like most typical jobs, our pay is based on the position we have. The job can be extremely profitable since we don’t have to spend our checks on board unless we want to.

Passengers shouldn’t expect to hang out with the crew in port

Ship crew having fun
There are rules about fraternizing with guests. Erica DePascale for Insider

Don’t get me wrong, we love socializing outside of work, but when you see the crew in port, remember it’s our very limited time off.

We usually use this time to contact our families, relax on the beach, or go shopping.

We also have strict rules about fraternizing with guests on and off the ship, so don’t be offended if it’s a brief conversation.

I’ve heard ‘Sweet Caroline’ at karaoke too many times

Please stop the madness. Over my six years, I’ve heard Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” at karaoke every single night.

I know you all love it so much, but how about a little Tina Turner or even Bruce Springsteen?

Most crew member’s ears are permanently ringing with “so goods.”

Click to read more of my advice on cruising and stories from onboard the ship.