Certain areas of the cruise ship can be a little crowded. For those who want to enjoy more solitude during the holidays, actual "getting away" can be difficult.
Factors such as time of day, daily activities and bottlenecks in ship design can contribute to the feeling of congestion at sea.
In this article, we'll explore the best ways to avoid crowds and enjoy your vacation without feeling claustrophobic.
Cruises are my favorite way to travel. It lets you unpack and visit exotic places all at once, enjoying the same comfortable bed and great food without having to plan every step.
But I admit that sometimes an overcrowded pool deck or a crowded rig can add to the stress of a vacation. By the way, I am very grateful to the person who invented the electronic muster drill.
Most first-time cruisers aren't prepared for how crowded some of the major cruise lines can be during certain aspects of the cruise. From the boarding process to bathing the decks, one ship is often more crowded than the other. As much as we love our traveling companions, sometimes we just need a little space.
Here are some of the best ways to avoid the cruise ship crowds.
1. Priority boarding
The boarding process is smoother and faster than it was 10 years ago. Remember to wait for two or three hours at the cruise terminal to board the ship. But while things are much better now, there are still ways to skip the lines and avoid the crowds.
The extra fee for priority boarding may seem like overkill, but the sooner you board, the sooner you'll start enjoying your vacation. Added bonus was boarding a cruise ship that was almost empty. That means you can jump in the pool, find a free lounger in the perfect spot, or grab an instant bite to eat at your favorite restaurant - all without the crowds.
Often, booking a suite automatically provides a fast track to boarding the ship before most others. More on that later.
related:Cruise Loyalty Benefits Comparison
2. Check-in on the day of check-in
Even if you don't pay the priority boarding fee, you can usually board the ship early by checking in as soon as the cruise line allows. I've mentioned this many times in previous posts, but it's worth repeating.
Cruise lines split boarding times so not everyone shows up at the same time. This can make the terminal very crowded. But these earlier boarding times are on a first-come, first-served basis. The sooner you complete the online check-in process, the sooner you can take advantage of early boarding time.
related:How to get to the cruise ship early
3. Choose a smaller boat or a better cruise
Not all cruise ships are created equal. Even some ships on the same cruise line offer more room per passenger than others. However, it's not always obvious. Ship design and the smoothness of passenger traffic play an important role in the perception of congestion.
Feel free to read my article which contains a listPassenger Space Ratio per Cruise ShipFind out which cruise ships and cruise ships offer the most space.
You might be better off opting for a premium line that prioritizes space over passenger numbers. Personally, I think it makes a world of difference when I don't feel like I'm just bumping into someone at every step.
related:Best all-inclusive cruise lines compared
4. Book a boat-to-boat experience
Some cruise lines allow for an entirely different experience than other passengers, booking an upgraded cabin with exclusive extras. Norwegian has "The Haven", MSC Cruises has "Yacht Club" and so on. This allows you to have a private swimming pool, restaurant, solarium and other facilities that are only available to a few people on board.
This will definitely free you from the crowding you may experience in other parts of the boat. It costs more, but it's worth it for those who appreciate personal service from the staff and a more relaxed atmosphere.
5. Enjoy a comfortable lounge during off-peak hours
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There are always quiet places to escape on a cruise ship. Even on a fully loaded ship at midday at sea, it is always possible to find a lounge or space that is barely occupied.
The key is to visit these different places during off-peak hours. The hall, which was also crowded with people after lunch, was almost empty all day long. Some offer stunning ocean views from the front or rear of the boat.
6. Get up early
It depends on the demographics of your cruise ship, but most people on a cruise ship get some sleep -- at least a little. When the 10am buffet rush hits, breakfast becomes more like brunch.
Avoid the many crowds by simply waking up earlier to avoid the rush to breakfast and to the beach.
If you have to take a boat to the beach it can sometimes be crowded. If the first auction doesn't happen at 9:10am, there's not much you can do. It's just going to be crowded.
7. Don't leave the boat until the crowd clears
This is contrary to the above suggestion. If you don't want to get up early on port day, wait until the crowds leave the ship. This allows you to enjoy the pool and hot tub with virtually no crowds and enjoy a smooth and fast boat-to-shore process.
I know a lot of cruisers who follow this rule. They will spend their pool days on port days and will only visit the port later in the day after lunch. This avoids most of the crowds on a busy day at the port, allowing you to enjoy the open Lido deck.
8. Book a suite or a larger balcony
Yes, I know it will make your cruise more expensive, but having larger cabins and larger balconies to enjoy your cruise can enhance the overall experience. Cruises that depart from your own suite or aft balcony (often larger) allow for easy departures without the crowds.
When you return to the ship after a long day of exploring your destination, it's nice to have a little extra space to enjoy some alone time before a meal.
9. Up the stairs
For those who are claustrophobic, these elevators can be very cramped. Sometimes people seem to want to test these weight limits with the number of people that fit there. I also don't mind a crowded elevator, but I know some people use the stairs to avoid it being too crowded. Most importantly, they exercise to justify eating a bit more for dinner that night.
10. Travel off the beaten path
Some cruises are more popular than others. Some ships actually put the numbers on a popular website. But that makes it hard to really experience your destination, or even take pictures, without a lot of people on the road.
Many third-party companies offer excellent shore excursions that can limit the number of people traveling. It also allows you to ask more questions and gain personal experience.
Please note that when booking a cruise tour, the cruise will not sail without you. The same cannot be said for third-party tourism. So give yourself plenty of time to get back.
related:The 10 Most Overrated Cruises
11. Turn port days into port days
If you really want to explore the ship away from the crowds, just skip the harbor tour. This is a better idea if you already know the place and just want to have a relaxing day.
In my experience, in some of the more popular ports, such as Nassau and Cozumel, not many people disembark. But in those days, how crowded ships were in port was still the difference between night and day.
It's great on a cruise. you can enjoy your vacationyou want.Don't feel obligated to leave the boat or stay on board. There are also activities throughout the day if you choose to stay on board. Nothing beats an afternoon of curiosity while sipping a cold drink while admiring the ocean.
12. Try the specialties
Special meals are a great option when you want to escape the dinner crowd. Not only do you avoid the crowds, but you also get a more personalized service. In my opinion, being able to eat almost everywhere on a cruise ship is pretty awesome.
Someone asked, why go to a specialty dinner restaurant when the food in the main restaurant is just as good? While specialty restaurants are higher quality than MDR, you're actually paying for the service. This extra focus on service also results in a more relaxed atmosphere and is a great way to enjoy a meal without the crowds.
related:The 12 Biggest Cruise Diet Mistakes to Avoid
One of the best parts of cruising is getting to know your fellow travelers. So in no way am I advocating that you become a hermit while traveling. But if the hustle and bustle of the crowd is stressing you out, I hope the tips above will help you calm down.
How else can you avoid crowds? Do you have any ideas? Drop us a line so we can learn from your cruise knowledge!
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Discovertravel secretsMost people don't know and don't feel like a boss. CheckThe smart cruiser is hereFor a better cruise vacation. (sponsor)
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- Get Noticed (in a good way!)
|Crew||Suggested Cash Tip Amount|
|Waiter||$5 per day, per person|
|Cabin Steward||$3-5 per person per day|
|Butler||$10-20 per person per day|
|Room Service||$2-3 per order|
What happens if you don't tip on a cruise? Most cruise lines work on the basis that the crew members' pay structure is based on receiving tips. If you choose not to tip, for whatever reason, you are impacting the salaries of the crew who have served you so well during your cruise.Why you should never go to the top deck on a cruise ship? ›
If you're at all prone to seasickness, you'll want to avoid an upper deck cabin. The higher you are on a cruise ship, the more motion you'll feel.What does decorating your cruise door with pineapples mean? ›
On a cruise ship, the secret symbol of an upside-down pineapple is regularly used as a code for swinging or “wife-swapping”. In most cases, an illustrated and upside-down pineapple is fixed to the cabin door of a guest interested in swinging and partner swapping.How much does a maid get paid on a cruise ship? ›
Average American Cruise Lines Housekeeper weekly pay in the United States is approximately $916, which is 64% above the national average.How much do you tip housekeeping on a 7 day cruise? ›
As for daily housekeeping gratuity, $2 to $5 per person per day is a good rule of thumb. For help with your luggage when boarding and disembarking, tip the luggage handler immediately following the service. Beyond the day-to-day staff, you may also want to tip out specialized crew members you encountered regularly.What do you tip on a 7 day cruise? ›
The average suggestions for cruise tips amount to between $12 and $16 per passenger, per day—which for a standard seven-night cruise comes to between $84 and $112 extra per person, or $336 to $448 extra for a family of four.What is a good tip for housekeeping on a cruise? ›
This fee ranges anywhere from $12.50 to upward of $20 per person, per day, depending on the cruise line -- usually on the higher end if you're staying in a suite.Can you refuse to pay gratuity on a cruise? ›
You have the right to refuse this automatic gratuity charge and may compensate cruise staff on your own terms. However, you will need to notify the front desk of this desire. Otherwise it will appear on your bill when your cruise ends and it will be charged to your credit card on file.
Technically cruise lines cannot force you to pay gratuities, especially if you have a complaint or issue about the service you received on board. Gratuities on a cruise are not mandatory, but instead heavily suggested and added automatically.How much should I tip each person on a cruise? ›
In general, plan on giving $16–$23 in gratuities per day for each passenger. Note that the amount should be tabulated for each individual in your party—don't try to tip once per couple or group. So if you're planning to go on a 7-day cruise, expect to give a total of between $112 and $161 per person in gratuities.What is the best floor to stay on a cruise ship? ›
You want to be as close to the pivot point as possible to feel the least movement. Avoid cabins near the front (bow) or back (stern) and on decks higher than the middle deck of the ship. So, on a ship with fourteen passenger decks, your best options are below deck seven.Do cruise ships have cameras on decks? ›
Cruise ships are equipped with cameras that monitor the outside areas, because if they didn't and someone went missing, then they would have no way to check whether that person had fallen overboard.What do flamingos mean on a cruise? ›
It used to be a symbol to show your hospitality and morphed from there. Today, the pink flamingo meaning is used as an indicator of a swinging lifestyle. This type of symbol is not as common as the others, but it does exist.What are the secret signs on cruise ship doors? ›
"An 'Alpha' is a medical emergency, a Bravo' is a fire, and 'Kilo' is a request for all personnel to report to their emergency posts - in the event of, say, a necessary evacuation." If a person has died, "Operation Rising Star" will come over the tannoy, according to Cruiseoholics.What does upside down flamingo mean? ›
What does an upside down flamingo mean? There's no meaning to an upside-down flamingo. Flamingos advertised outside a room or home can indicate that someone is into swinging, and an upside-down pineapple can mean the same, but the idea of an upside-down flamingo is just the two symbols being muddled together.Who is the highest paid person on a cruise ship? ›
It comes as no surprise that the ship's captain has the biggest salary from working on a cruise ship. The master of the vessel has a huge responsibility for ship safety for crew and passengers along with navigation.Do cruise ship employees get free food? ›
Do cruise ship employees get free food? A majority of cruise ship lines offer their employees free food throughout the duration of their contracts. There's typically a special kitchen on the boat that prepares food for staff members. Employees may eat in separate dining areas, depending on their classifications.Do cruise ship waiters get paid? ›
How much does a Cruise Waiter make? As of May 7, 2023, the average annual pay for a Cruise Waiter in the United States is $50,264 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $24.17 an hour. This is the equivalent of $966/week or $4,188/month.
When to tip your hotel room cleaners. Some travelers like to leave one tip for hotel housekeeping at the end of their stay. But most experts say it's better to leave a tip every day of your trip. “We recommend tipping nightly, as your room may be serviced by different people,” said Ten Eyck.How much do you tip on a 1 hour cruise? ›
Tip between 10% and 20%, based on how long your charter is, your itinerary, and how well it's executed.How much money should I take on a 7 day cruise? ›
Many people suggest $100 per day, and this has generally worked well for me in my cruising experiences, but there are a lot of variables to consider.Do you tip wait staff on cruise? ›
You are not expected to tip on these sailings at all. However, slipping your butler or favorite waiter or bartender some cash is welcomed; good service should be rewarded. You might also want to express your thanks by donating to the crew fund, which provides treats and entertainment options to the hard-working crew.Do I need cash on a cruise ship? ›
Here's the short answer: You don't actually need any cash when on a cruise ship. Most cruise lines operate on a cashless system. This allows you to pay for any and all of your onboard charges using your room key rather than bringing extra cash.How much do you tip a waiter on Royal Caribbean? ›
We hope you find the gratuity to be an accurate reflection of your satisfaction and thank you for your generous recognition of our staff. A 18% gratuity is automatically added to all beverages, mini bar items, and spa & salon purchases.Do you tip your stateroom attendant on a cruise? ›
Average extra tips vary, with most cruisers averaging $1-2 for drinks or room service, and $10-20 per day for cabin stewards. It's up to you if you decide to tip extra, but your automatic gratuity charge covers all the essentials.Is it better to do prepaid gratuities on a cruise? ›
Benefits of Prepaying Gratuities
The biggest advantage is simply getting the charge out of the way. By paying the charge at the same time you pay your cruise, it's one less cost that will hit your onboard account while you are cruising. Another advantage is that cruise lines regularly raise gratuity amounts.
Special Services - Butlers, concierge, salon and spa attendants should be tipped for their services at your discretion - usually 15%. Gratuities for Drinks - Bar bills almost always include a 15% gratuity, even if the ship has a "no tipping" policy.What happens if I don't prepay gratuities? ›
If you do not prepay cruise gratuities before sailing, the cruise line will add them to your onboard bill. The cruise line will then charge your credit card for the gratuity amount at the end of the sailing – along with other purchases you made with your cruise card (drinks, souvenirs, spa treatments, tours, etc.).
Airport Baggage Handler
An average tip is $2 per bag, “but feel free to give more for particularly good service, awkward or heavy bags, special requests and a cheery attitude.”
The amount you pay will vary by cruise line, but they are all in the same ballpark. You can expect to pay about $15-$20 per person, per day. So a couple traveling together will see about $30-$40 per day in gratuities, or about $200+ over the course of a week-long cruise.How much do you tip a waiter and assistant waiter on a cruise? ›
The exact amount is probably somewhere between $1 to $3 a day. Your waiter in the main dining room probably receives $3 to $5 per person each day from that charge. Your assistant waiter most likely gets somewhere in the range of $2 to $4.Can I wear jeans to dinner on a cruise? ›
On formal nights, proper attire includes tuxedos, suits or slacks (jackets required) for men and evening gowns, cocktail dresses or dressy pantsuits for women. Jeans are welcome in all dining venues during the day, but they're not appropriate in any public venues for dinner or cocktail hour.How many outfits should you take on a cruise? ›
Pack one outfit for every day, or plan to do laundry on your cruise ship. I like to look for ways to reuse pieces to save space. For example, I'll dress up a top with a skirt or dress pants for dinner, then wear the same shirt with jeans in port the following day.Are guests wearing masks on cruise ships? ›
“I wish to advise you of an update to our onboard mask wearing policy,” the letter, delivered to guests' cabins onboard, read. “While masks are no longer required, we do recommend guests wear masks indoors when not in your own stateroom or when not eating or drinking.”Where is the safest room on a cruise ship? ›
If seasickness is a worry of yours, the best way to avoid that is getting a room in the center of the ship. As cruise ships tend to bob on waves and slightly roll from side to side, the heart of the ship is its only part that stays virtually in the same place.Is it worth it to upgrade to a balcony on a cruise? ›
Balcony cabins on cruise ships are more spacious due to the outside space. They have spectacular ocean views, fresh sea air, and a private seating area. Although these cabins are more expensive, the rewards of a private balcony sometimes outweigh the cost. If it fits within your budget, balcony cabins are worth it!Can you use your phone to take pictures on a cruise ship? ›
Yes, but we recommend waiting until you're in port and finding a place with free Wi-Fi. Onboard Internet plans are available for purchase but can be pricey, often charging you by the amount of data you use. Photo and video uploads can quickly eat up your allotted data.Do cruises have phones in room? ›
All cruise cabins have room phones with a messaging system the same as a hotel. Also like hotels, there are "house" phones throughout the ship that you can use to call directly to the stateroom phones. Some cruisers bring walkie-talkies onboard, particularly families with kids old enough to spend time on their own.
Do I have to share a bathroom with other passengers? Thankfully, cruise ships are not hostels (phew!), so you will not have to share a bathroom with other passengers. Every cabin on a Royal Caribbean cruise has a private bathroom, where you'll find a toilet, sink, and shower. Suite category cabins also have a bathtub.Are hookups common on cruises? ›
It shouldn't be a surprise, then, that hookups can and do happen on a cruise. Call it love, call it romance, call it a one-night stand. No matter what you call it, there are people on every cruise that end up getting down after meeting on the ship.Does tinder work on cruise ships? ›
Yes, Tinder does work on a cruise ship, but as with any location-based app it may not be accurate – after all, the cruise ship is moving from port to port. If a person remains close-by even out in the middle of the ocean, or every time you dock in a new port, it's safe to assume they're on board the ship.What is the hardest job on a cruise ship? ›
Among many difficult jobs on cruise ships, handpicking the toughest one is tricky. Still, one job will stand out in terms of horrific working conditions and cruel working hours-the galley steward.What is the easiest job on a cruise ship? ›
- Cabin steward.
- Activity coordinator.
Do single guys go on cruises? It's perfectly normal for single guys to go on a cruise. However, it tends to be more single women that travel alone. If you want to cruise alone then look for ships with single cabins to avoid surcharges, and consider requesting large dinner tables to meet other solo travellers.Do guys go on cruises together? ›
26, 2008 - Contrary to popular belief, guys and cruise travel do go together. Convincing one's husband, father or a male friend to take a vacation at sea may have been a challenge in the past, but cruises today offer men of all ages plenty to do - with or without the women in their lives in tow.What cruise line is best for singles? ›
Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Carnival are all still great choices for this age group, whether you're traveling on your own or with a group of single friends. Another cruise line that works well for young singles is Virgin Voyages, which is child-free and has rooms and activities designed for singles.Can you use your Social Security for cruise? ›
Proof of identity, such as a certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, employment authorization document, permanent resident card, or foreign passport with an approved form I-94. Proof of your Social Security Number, such as an SSN card, W-2, or paystub with full SSN.Does texting work on a cruise ship? ›
It's possible to send and receive text messages at sea on a cellular signal, as long as you have a signal through your ship's roaming network. (Just make sure you turn on data roaming in your settings.) Texting costs a lot less than a voice call -- usually in line with standard, international "pay as you go" rates.
Try striking up a conversation with fellow singles at the piano bar or during cocktail hour. Spend time at the swimming pool, or introduce yourself to solo cruisers during dinner. You may even be invited to sit and enjoy a meal together. Shore excursions are another great way to meet people with similar interests.What is the lowest paid job on a cruise ship? ›
Entry-level kitchen positions usually have the lowest wages found on cruise ships. However, on the plus side, they have the highest opportunities for advancement. Furthermore, wages may be low in this area, but the tips and gratuities make up for 95% of the difference.What is the lowest salary in cruise? ›
The average Carnival Cruise Lines salary ranges from approximately ₹1.3 Lakhs per year for a Waitress to ₹21.8 Lakhs per year for a Sr Sous Chef. Salary estimates are based on 991 Carnival Cruise Lines salaries received from various employees of Carnival Cruise Lines.Is it better to be higher or lower on cruise ship? ›
For passengers looking to enjoy views, especially the scenery in the wake of a ship, we recommend higher decks and the back of the vessel. The higher you pick, the farther you'll see. If you're after views, the best room on a cruise ship will be a balcony cabin at the ship's rear end.Which cruise ship pays the most? ›
- Royal Caribbean Cruise LTD: https://www. royalcaribbean.com/
- Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings LTD: http://www. ...
- Carnival Corporation: https://www.carnivalcorp. ...
- Disney Cruise Line: https://disneycruise.disney.go. ...
- MSC Cruises: https://www.msccruises.com/
While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $102,500 and as low as $14,500, the majority of Cruise Ship Worker salaries currently range between $30,000 (25th percentile) to $58,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $90,000 annually across the United States.