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Cruise Traditions that Stand the Test of Time

By BijalFriday 26th July 2013



One thing that makes this industry so unique are the cruise traditions, with many staying put, despite modern innovations and the growing size of the ships. Perhaps it’s these traditions that create a sense of nostalgia. Here are a few rituals to honour beyond breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow.



Before making their maiden voyage, cruise ships have historically been christened and blessed by authoritative figures, or godmothers. And history says that water, wine and even blood have been used in blessing a ship. However, modern day blessings have evolved into red carpet affairs, hosting celebrities and even royalty.
Traditionally, a bottle of champagne is broken against the ship’s hull and a godmother is named to bless the ship on its journeys. Nowadays, it’s less about superstition and more of a glamorous event to promote the ship and its future sailings.

Drink of the Day & Sail-Away Party

Once you’ve settled into your room, make your way to the deck to bid farewell and begin your bon voyage celebrations by raising a toast to an unforgettable cruise. The good old-fashioned sail-away deck party has evolved over time. Traditionally, guests would line up along the port-facing rails on deck as the ship glided offshore. Now most guests head to the cafes while some still like to join the poolside dancing and drinks.
The Sail-Away Party is your first chance to celebrate onboard so grab the drink of the day or your favourite umbrella cocktail at the top-deck bar and start making new friends.

Ice Breakers & Onboard Games

You’re out at sea and you have the opportunity to mingle with fellow guests by participating in the icebreakers and onboard games. Shuffleboard is popular on cruise ships and dates back to the 16th century when it was known as shovillaborde, and was played with coins. While the name and technique may have evolved, the game is still very much alive across all ocean liners today.

Tipping Crew Members

Many guests tip their cabin stewards personally and let them know their needs for duration of the journey. It’s great to build a friendly relationship with your suite steward so you feel comfortable onboard. You even have the option of pre-paying gratuity if you’d rather not pay onboard. Or have it added automatically each day to your SeaPass account to pay later.
TippingTraditionally, guests would tip staff personally. Cruise lines gradually realised the importance of adding a certain percentage gratuity so all their staff would be tipped fairly, especially since guests are often waited on by different staff each time they dine.

Captain’s Gala Dinner & Poolside Party

Your cruise holiday has arrived and I’m sure you’re looking forward to switching off your mobile phone and celebrating on your first night. Enjoy the casual poolside party buffet (usually held on one evening during a cruise) which has elaborate ice sculptures, decorative pastries, and fruit and vegetable carvings on show. It’s a great way to unwind and you might even get to participate in a limbo contest and dance the night away. Most guests hit the Windjammer buffet restaurant as their first meal to enjoy a casual setting, with tasty international cuisine. And remember, the formal Captain’s Gala dinner towards the end of your cruise is your chance to dress up and enjoy a special meal with your companions.

 Do you think cruise traditions are a great part of cruising or do you think they need updating? What’s your favourite cruise tradition? 

Join the conversation...

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