Everything looks calm and tranquil, as people sun themselves and take the occasional dip, but a cruise ship’s pool deck is rather like the proverbial swan – peer beneath the surface and it’s a swirling mix of emotions. So, before you plunge in, read our handy guide to cruise pool deck etiquette to navigating these treacherous waters on your next cruise vacation.

Sun Lounger Etiquette

It has been said countless times before, but it is still worth saying that nothing annoys your fellow cruise passengers more like gratuitously reserving a pool lounger with your towel at the crack of dawn, only to disappear to the breakfast buffet for three hours. And while crew members have cracked down on lounge chair hogs, it still goes on. You can’t stop it happening – but you can make sure that person isn’t you.

Dress Code

Some folk want to turn the pool into a fashion shoot. Others want to wear as little possible. And a few think it’s funny to show up in a mankini. All these people are badly misinformed and should be frog-marched off the ship for compulsory re-education on cruise etiquette. By all means wear what’s comfortable – but remember it’s a public area and you need to make sure it’s comfortable for everyone else, too.

Swimming Rules 

Despite the average cruise pool being no more than 20m in length and not exactly designed for competition, there’s always some Michael Phelps-wannabe who’s not paying attention to those around him and decided that now is the time to beat his personal best. Look – we appreciate your commitment to training, but this is unlikely to be an adult-only pool and if they’re children playing, that swell you’re creating is pulling them under. Oh, and by the way, everyone thinks you’re an idiot.

Ms Marco Polo Jacuzzi on board

Making Friends

You wouldn’t get into the bath with a total stranger, would you? Well actually you would, if it’s the pool-deck jacuzzi or hot tub. And that’s not awkward at all – provided you’re a master of small talk (not too much, not too little, and all the right topics). It can be done, but this is strictly for experts only.

Don’t Eat and Swim

This one should be pretty obvious, but there are still cruisers out there who think it’s acceptable to waddle back from the grill and munch their lunch while half-submerged, but they’ve never come up for air beneath a floating lettuce leaf. Eeeeuch!