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What not to do on a cruise ship balcony

Aug. 04, 2022
8 min read
Cruise ship balconies
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You’re super excited to be cruising in a cabin with its own private balcony. You’re daydreaming of kicking back with a book and a cocktail, watching the waves roll by or the sun sink over the horizon. The last thing you want to be concerned with is a bunch of rules.

The truth is there are a bunch of things you’re not allowed to do on your cruise balcony — and a few more that are not banned, but you shouldn’t do anyway. Some are safety issues, while others are about being a good neighbor.

Trust me — you will enjoy having a balcony cabin for its access to sunlight, sea breezes and vacation-time relaxation without the crowds. But you’ll have a better time if you do not do the following things on your private veranda.

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(Photo by FotoMax/Getty Images)

Smoke a cigarette or cigar

Costa is the only cruise line I know of that lets you smoke on your personal balcony. That’s because cigarettes on a balcony are a fire hazard. Just search online for photos of the 2006 fire on Star Princess, and you’ll see how much damage a discarded lit cigarette can do to a cruise ship. Cruise lines wised up after that and banned smoking on cruise ship balconies. Don’t take this rule lightly. In addition to the safety risk you’re creating, you will get fined hundreds of dollars and risk disembarkation if caught.

Get naked

If you’re going to get an all-over tan or sunbathe topless, your balcony is a better bet for privacy than the bustling pool deck. Just be aware that your balcony is still visible from several viewpoints. Folks above you might be able to look down onto your balcony if it juts out beyond the higher decks. Security cameras might capture your naturist moment for posterity, and people on the ship docked across from you or on the pier below may have direct line of sight into your veranda. If this doesn’t bother you, carry on — but know that it might make others uncomfortable. (Consider booking a nude cruise if you want to enjoy a clothing-optional cruise vacation.)

Have sex

While we’re on the clothing-optional theme, the same commonsense rule applies to getting frisky with your travel companion on your balcony. Your shipmates and others may be able to both see and hear you if you choose to have an amorous encounter on your balcony.

While you might figure out a way to get some privacy on your expansive suite balcony, I have to think that having sex on a tiny standard-sized balcony with sea-sprayed, highly trafficked flooring and metal upright chairs sounds as comfortable as getting romantic in your car. Be careful about up-against-the-railing interactions for the reasons we’ll outline below.

Climb on balcony furniture and railings

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Hey, hey, all you monkeys. Stick to your cruise ship’s rock wall if you need to get a climbing fix. Please do not climb onto balcony furniture, sit on the railings with your feet dangling or — and yes, this has been attempted — climb from one balcony to the next. If you have little ones sharing your cabin, read them the riot act that their feet are not to leave the floor (unless their butt is in a chair) while on the balcony. Losing your balance when climbing on your balcony is a prime way to fall overboard, and no one wants to make that kind of splash on their vacation.

Throw stuff overboard

In addition to your person, the other thing you don’t want to go overboard is, well, everything. Do not throw items overboard, whether it be messages in plastic bottles, food or trash. It all goes into the ocean, where it does not belong and could harm sea life. Not every well-meant message gets found, meaning your bottle could be clogging the seas with plastic for years to come. Your cruise cabin has a trash can by the desk; use it to dispose of trash.

Leave little kids unattended

Because your children may have trouble remembering the preceding two rules on their own, make it a family rule that little kids are not to go out on your balcony without an adult. You can stop them when the temptation to climb or throw things becomes too great. The balcony is great for an alfresco breakfast, but it’s not a good hiding spot for a cabinwide game of hide and seek.

Tell secrets

(Photo courtesy of Cunard Line)

I’ve had many heart-to-heart talks with friends out on a cruise ship balcony, and your personal onboard space is a better place to share secrets than the ship’s coffee shop. If you plan to divulge any juicy details, know that sound does carry, and your neighbor planning to enjoy a nap on the adjacent veranda may have given up their snooze to eavesdrop on all your hot gossip.

Turn up the volume

On the “sound carries” theme, your neighbor may be less pleased when you’re having loud, late-night conversations on your balcony or blasting music with the volume turned up. Your balcony may be private, but you’re part of a cruise ship community. The passengers next to, above and below you may not share your taste in tunes or may have a different sleep schedule. Be considerate and keep the volume low, especially during morning and evening hours.

Dry your swimsuits

I’ll be honest — everyone does this. You come back from the beach and you drape your wet swimsuit over the back of the chair on your balcony. Which is fine ... until the ship sets sail. Then your favorite bikini or trunks get doused with salty sea spray or blown about by the wind, either onto that not-the-cleanest balcony floor or, worse, out to sea. Your cabin shower should have a pull-out cord to use as a clothesline. Please, dry your clothes in there, especially when the ship is moving.

Leave the lights on and the doors open

(Photo courtesy of the All Inclusive Project/Celebrity Cruises)

You might not be paying the utility bills for your cruise ship, but that’s no reason not to be considerate. Turn your balcony light off when you’re not sitting out there after dark. Not only does it save electricity, but the light won’t bother your neighbors who are trying to sleep. Leave the balcony door open, and it will create a wind tunnel when someone also opens the cabin door. If you must sleep with the door propped open for fresh air, at least turn your room's air conditioning system off, so you’re not overworking it. Note that on some ships, the air conditioning goes off automatically when you open your balcony door.

Bottom line

There are many things you must do if you’re cruising in a balcony room. Order room service at least once, and enjoy it with views of the port or the open ocean. Spend a peaceful moment reading a book in the sun, without the noise and splashing of the pool deck. Lean against the railing and watch the ship sail into or out of port, or catch the sun rising or setting.

But for the reasons spelled out above, do not do anything on your cruise balcony that is dangerous, embarrassing or inconsiderate of your neighbors or the environment. Your cruise will be better, not worse, for playing by those rules.

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Featured image by Getty Images/EyeEm
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

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  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases