It’s an unfortunately familiar scene: A family vacation on a cruise ship, ruined (or aggravated) by other passengers’ decidedly un-family friendly behavior. It’s probably happened to a bunch of us, and booking a Disney cruise offers only some protection. I’d wager that bad behavior on cruise ships can affect the quality of other peoples’ vacations more than on most other types of travel. We’re basically trapped with these people, after all.
Three Basic Cruise Ship Rules for Family Vacations
Watch Your Teenagers: Sure, teens may want to be left to their own devices, and will beg, plead, sulk and scream to be allowed to do their own thing. But this is a family vacation; they’re still our responsibility. There are many complaints about out of control teenagers on cruise trips, including at least one situation wherein the kids were drunk and urinating in the hallways (CruiseBruise, 2006). These teens were kicked off the ship, thus ending their travels – but imagine the affect all those loud, peeing, drunk kids had on other passengers. Not to mention how embarrassing it must be for the parents!
Watch Your Younger Kids, Too: Aw, isn’t it cute that little Timmy splashed that sunblock-covered napping lady by the side of the pool? Well, no, it isn’t. No matter how truly adorable we believe our children to be, other cruise passengers may disagree. This especially holds true when our little angel is running up and down the buffet line, or pushing all the elevator buttons, or any other behavior that normally would result in some discipline. Just because we’re on vacation WITH our children, doesn’t mean we’re on vacation FROM our children. Rules regarding respecting others and their personal space still apply. There’s a separate children’s pool on many cruise ships; let the chaos reign over there.
Watch Yourself: It’s tempting to just let it all out on a cruise vacation. We’re not getting in a car and driving anywhere anytime soon, so we’d think we don’t have to watch ourselves with all those delicious mixed drinks (and imported beer). However, the heady mix of sun and alcohol has led to parents engaging in rather unparentlike behavior in the past. I’ve seen tipsy dads brazenly flirting with and making serious passes at young women on trips. I’ve also seen moms get much louder than they usually are, saying pretty mean things to their confused children. Paternal embarrassment and maternal guilt trump the hangover in dictating the mood the next day.
This all adds up to personal and parental responsibility, of course. Unless we’re leaving the kids with grandma and booking a vacation on a Hedonism Nude Cruise, we can’t leave the fact that we’re grown-ups on the docks.