Global etiquette: How to behave on an international cruise

Royal Princess
Royal Princess

Whether on an Asian cruise or visiting the Mediterranean for the first time, travelers are often unaware of international etiquette on topics ranging from proper chopstick usage to body language. Nations that stay close to their traditional roots often have dress codes, especially in Southeast Asia, where women are encouraged to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants below the knee. Rather than sticking out like a sore thumb and potentially offending locals while cruising to cultural destinations, follow these vital tips to have the best experience abroad.

Fashion faux pas: What not to wear on a world cruise

American tourists are notorious for standing out thanks to the cameras slung over their shoulder and fanny packs stuffed with everything but the kitchen sink. In Europe, fashion is a part of life, and though locals don't expect visitors to wear Prada, showing a little class is a sure-fire way to gain respect and valuable travel tips from the people who know the place best. During a European shore excursion, cruisers should leave their sweatpants onboard and don clean slacks or dark-wash jeans along with comfortable shoes for walking around the sites.

In Southeast Asia, the dress code is a little more severe, and women are strongly discouraged from wearing shorts or tank tops. In Thailand, for example, local females dress modestly and rarely expose their arms or legs. Throughout Asia, wearing shoes indoors is considered extremely rude, particularly during a traditional tea ceremony, and cruisers should keep their socks clean when visiting sacred temples.

Table manners: How to dine like a local

From Mexico to Russia, numerous cruise destinations have specific rules regarding table manners, ranging from utensil use to conversation topics. Some peculiar eating habits may be acceptable, such as slurping in Asia, while others are considered taboo, such as burping in Italy.

Even though tequila reigns supreme in Mexico, excessive drinking is frowned upon, particularly when women have a few too many margaritas. Eating out is a social event, and while on a Mexican cruise vacation, visitors should keep in mind that locals customarily linger at their tables hours after their meal is finished.

In France, bread and pastries are a daily staple, and visitors grabbing a crusty baguette from an artisan bakery should break it with their hands rather than with a knife. While walking throughout the charming coastal cities, cruisers may notice that locals often take a big bite of their baguette before packing it away in a picnic basket - these delectable eats should always be consumed while still piping hot.

The do's and don'ts of body language

Every nation has its inappropriate gestures, such as giving a thumbs up in Italy, which is the equivalent to raising the middle finger in America. In the UK, giving a peace sign with the palm faced inward is also considered vulgar.

Many countries have customary body language signals that may seem odd to some, such as nose-touching (hongi) in New Zealand or sticking out the tongue in India.

Shaking hands in Russia is considered extremely unlucky, while in much of the South Pacific, locals will clasp hands for minutes at a time as a sign of respect. Additionally, in Morocco and Tunisia, greetings sometimes last up to 10 minutes, tallying up lengthy handshakes along with numerous kisses on the cheek.

Proper cruise behavior

On a world cruise, passengers who behave onboard will undoubtedly have an unforgettable vacation. Maintaining positive energy is the key to keeping spirits up and meeting new friends, whether on a short cruise or epic around-the-world adventure.