We live in a wonderfully diverse world and one of the greatest benefits of travel is the opportunity to experience different cultures and lifestyles. No one likes to be stereotyped as a “Tacky Tourist” or an “Ugly American.” Yet, people who are polite, patient, and pleasant at home sometimes behave in ways that are inappropriate, rude and offensive during travel. Try these tips to make sure travel etiquette on ship and shore is up to par:
Don’t expect everything to be the same way it is at home. Embrace the concept that because something is different, it is not funny or wrong. Be receptive to new experiences and new ideas. The more you experience your destination, the more you gain from your travel experience. Learn a few words in the language of your destination. Even if your pronunciation is not perfect, words like good morning, please, and thank you are appreciated. It’s easy to find common phrases at www.travelang.com. Actions do speak louder than words. Gestures and non-verbal communication differ from culture to culture. A positive gesture in the U.S. may be offensive in another culture. For instance, making a circle with thumb and index finger to say okay symbolizes something is worthless or obscene in some countries. In many cultures pointing or beckoning with the index finger is insulting. The Internet puts customs of world at your fingertips or read The Simple Guide to Customs & Etiquette, published for many countries worldwide. Be a considerate smoker. Smoking on most cruise ships is only permitted in designated areas, even on deck. Never throw cigarette or cigar butts overboard. They may be blown back into a lower deck on the ship and start a fire. Avoid dropping cigarette butts or any type of trash on the street in port. Littering is illegal in many countries and may incur a stiff fine. Practice good cruise photo etiquette. Flash photography and videography are not allowed at cruise production shows. Flash photography and video are restricted at many museums. Photography of some private corporate or government locations may violate the law. Photographing people without asking their permission violates personal rights. Ask before aiming the camera. Build relationships. A cruise ship is a unique environment in many ways. Although you will probably never see cruise ship employees again after the cruise, make an effort to get to know those who serve you. Remember their names and chat with them about their life when time permits. When a cruise ship employee goes the extra mile, show appreciation. Write note to the ship’s Captain commending their professionalism. Commendations have a significant impact on cruise employee records. When appropriate, tactfully tip a little extra or bring them a small memento from a shopping trip in port. Finally, be generous with “pleases and praise.” Be polite, pleasant and patient when there is a problem or you have a special request. A request accompanied by eye contact and a warm smile and “please” encourages the person to want to help. Demanding and demeaning behavior makes it a secret pleasure to say no. Never threaten. Security on cruise ships, airlines and even on the street is tight and a perceived threat can create problems for a traveler.
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