Crew Code of Conduct and Rules on Cruise Ship


Cruise lines have a set of rules and regulations in place for all crewmembers to live by. These policies and procedures govern how you should conduct yourself, how you treat others, your personal appearance, and your work ethic and performance. When policies have been violated, discipline is necessary. Here’s what to expect from the code of conduct and rules for crew on cruise ships.


Personal Conduct of Cruise Ship Crew

Crew members are expected to behave a certain way on the ship which is not only their work place but their home. Since you have the right to work and live in a safe and professional environment, cruise lines have put these policies and rules in place. Here is a typical list of what is not tolerated or allowed on a cruise ship and which may lead to disciplinary action:

  • Drunkenness is not tolerated and cruise lines practice blood alcohol content testing.
  • Do not chew gum in passenger areas.
  • Do not use offensive language.
  • Vandalism is not tolerated.
  • Theft of ship’s property or a guest’s property is not tolerated.
  • Fighting is not tolerated.
  • Drugs and weapons are forbidden.
  • Sexual harassment is not tolerated.
  • Smoking is not allowed in unauthorized areas.
  • Guests are not allowed in crew areas.
  • Unauthorized persons are not allowed to board the ship.
  • Absenteeism of safety drills is not tolerated.
  • Violation of USPH rules concerning hygienic working practices is not tolerated.

Cruise Ship Crew Dress Code

Cruise lines expect that their employees take pride in their presentation and conform to the cruise lines’ appearance standards. Here are some typical rules that pertain to cruise ship crew dress codes:

  • Wear the appropriate uniform with regards to time of day, ship’s itinerary, function or location.
  • Name tag must be worn on the side of the uniform determined by the cruise line.
  • Shoes and socks must be conservative and some cruise lines require women to wear pantyhose. Shoes should be polished and in good shape.
  • Only the top button of a shirt may be open as to not show cleavage or hairy chests.
  • Safety clothing and equipment must be worn as required.
  • All clothing worn as part of your uniform must be clean, pressed, and free of stains or damage.

Cruise Ship Crew Grooming Rules

Cruise ship crew are also expected to adhere to personal hygiene standards and other appearance standards at all times. Most cruise lines have similar grooming rules when it comes to cleanliness, hair care, shaving, tattoos, makeup and jewellery. Here are some guidelines to follow.

  • Crew member must be clean and odour free this includes hair, hands, nails, mouth, body and clothing.
  • Avoid use of strong perfumes and colognes.
  • Beards and moustaches are only allowed if kept well-trimmed. (Crewmember is not allowed to start growing facial hair during their contract.)
  • Visible tattoos are not permitted.
  • Visible body piercings are not permitted (except one earring in each ear for women).
  • Women should wear only conservative makeup and jewellery.
  • Men’s hair must not be longer than to a shirt collar


Crew member Use of Guest Areas

Depending on cruise line and rank will determine if you are allowed to use or be in guest areas while off duty. Some cruise lines allow officer-ranking employees to use the pool deck, passenger gym and restaurants. If you are allowed to be in passenger areas during off duty times, remember that guests have first priority.

For example, in Royal Caribbean’s “Getting Onboard” employee handbook, they specify the following crew restrictions for public areas:

If you are found in a guest stateroom and you are not fulfilling a guest accommodation (ie. cabin service), you will be dismissed immediately.

Shipboard casinos, guest swimming pools, and whirlpools are off-limits to shipboard employees.

Elevators are for guest use only.

Crew Members Conduct with Guests

How you conduct yourself with the guests can make or break your career working on a cruise ship.  This is exceptionally important. To start, never argue with a guest. Instead, report any problems with a guest to your supervisor.

Second, never cross the line between guest and crew member. Never invite a guest into a crew area. Avoid guest elevators. Be aware of young guests with parents that misinterpret your interaction with their son/daughter. Also, be careful with how overly social you are with a guest that it isn’t interpreted as romantic or worse yet, sexual harassment.


Crew Member Conduct While Working

You are expected to follow all  rules and regulations set out for the department that you work in. At the very least you must be punctual to all shifts and follow all USPH rules concerning hygiene. Other policies may include accuracy if dealing with money or sales quotas when dealing with concessionary departments.

In addition, a crew member’s actions must not impede the progress or navigation of the ship. This could mean anything from phoning the bridge during a red zone period or arriving back to the ship after the allowable time for crew.

Furthermore, each Captain has the authority to establish additional rules and regulations for his ship (known as Captain’s Standing Orders). He may have different uniform requirements for a turnaround day. He may specify passenger areas that officer-ranked employees are able to use or not use such as pool areas and bars. Understanding the basic code of conduct for cruise lines may make you reconsider if ship life is for you.


Cruise Lines Code of Conduct – Additional Resources

To learn more about what happens when a crew member violates the code of conduct, read Disciplinary Action and Appraisals for Cruise Ship Crew.

Here are a few specific cruise lines’ code of conduct and rules for shipboard employees:



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