The Most Hated People You’ll Meet on a Cruise

Cruising is supposed to a relaxing getaway – until you meet your fellow passengers, that is. While most people on a cruise are probably pleasant enough, when you’re sailing the high seas with thousands of other vacationers, you’re bound to encounter a few passengers who make you roll your eyes.

There are the people who can’t control themselves around the all-you-can-eat buffet. The know-it-all dinner companions. The parents who can’t be bothered to discipline their kids. Are these clueless travelers enough to ruin your vacation? Usually not, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying. Raise your hand if you’ve ever encountered one of these most hated people on a cruise.

1. The deck chair hog

cruise passenger by pool
They don’t seem to realize the chairs are for sharing. | Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images

All you want to do is lie out and catch some sun by the pool. The only problem? That empty chair in a prime spot has already been claimed by one of your fellow passengers – and they’re nowhere to be seen.

Some greedy passengers seem to think that draping a towel over a deck chair in the morning then gives them rights to that space for the rest of the day, even if they spend most of it at the buffet or the casino. Ugh. Who can blame the frustrated cruiser who responds to this nonsense by hiding a chair hog’s abandoned flip-flops, as this woman did?

2. The balcony smoker

Man on cruise ship
Just don’t light up a cigarette, buddy. |

Every cruise line has its own rules about where you can and can’t smoke. While a handful permit passengers to light up on their balcony, that’s a no-no on most big cruise lines, including Carnival, Disney, and Royal Caribbean. But a smoking ban won’t necessarily stop your nicotine-addicted neighbor next door from enjoying a post-dinner cigarette, and it definitely won’t stop the smoke from wafting over into your space. Not only is this inconsiderate behavior smelly, but it also puts other people’s health at risk. Rude doesn’t begin to describe this annoying cruise passenger.

3. The person who’s rude to the crew

Workers and crew members gather during the delivery ceremony of the MSC Meraviglia cruise ship
Rule number one: Always treat the crew with respect. | Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP/Getty Images

A cruise ship’s crew isn’t your army of personal servants, but some of your fellow passengers treat them as if they are. These ultra-rude travelers seem to have forgotten the words “please” and “thank you.” Instead, they snap their fingers, get angry with the staff for things that are beyond their control, and generally act like entitled jerks. Unfortunately, crew members usually can’t to fight back without jeopardizing their jobs, which only emboldens these badly behaved passengers.

4. The couple who’s always late to dinner

Couple Having Romantic Dinner
Everyone knows one of these couples. |

If you prefer traditional assigned seating at dinner when you cruise, you may have encountered this particular breed of annoying passenger: The couple who’s always late for meals. Even though they’re well aware that showing up late can delay or disrupt the dinner service for their tablemates, they regularly saunter in 10, 15, or even 30 minutes after their scheduled seating time. Not only is this frustrating for other passengers who have to wait for stragglers, but it’s also very inconsiderate to the crew, who are trying to serve hundreds of people dinner at the same time and on a fairly strict schedule.

5. The ugly American

Studio shot of young handsome tourist man
Just living up to the stereotypes | Amazingmikael/Getty Images

When you’re visiting a foreign port, there’s nothing more cringe-inducing than watching one of your fellow countrymen embody all the worst stereotypes about boorish, ugly Americans. We’re talking about the person who mocks the local food, or culture, the guy who thinks increasing his volume will somehow break through the language barrier, or the woman who wants to know the price of what she’s buying in “real money.” For anyone making a sincere effort not to act like an idiot abroad, these people are deeply embarrassing.

6. The know-it-all passenger

Friends enjoying sunset on cruise
There’s always an ‘expert.’ |

Some people really love to cruise, and they really like to let their fellow passengers know it. This is the person who’s apparently been on every ship under the sun, taken every excursion, and visited every port. They know it all, and they don’t hesitate to share their opinions. Of course, nobody minds when an experienced cruiser shares a few tips with the newbies; most people appreciate it, actually. But some people go on and on about their past voyages not because they want to help, but because they want to brag about how well-traveled they are or their elite status.

7. The person who ignores basic elevator etiquette

Closeup on business woman hand holding elevator door
Just be polite. | CentralITAlliance/Getty Images

Bad elevator behavior happens everywhere, but it seems distressingly common on cruises. Certain passengers are apparently unaware of the nearly universal rule of letting people off the elevator before trying to board. People who ignore this basic convention lead to frustrating blockages as people try to shove their way out as others shove their way in. Also annoying are the people who refuse to wait for the next elevator, instead squeezing their way onto an already jammed car. Then there are the able-bodied passengers who push past those who actually need the elevator to move between decks. So rude.

8. The person who isn’t happy about anything

young woman at cruise ship
Don’t be a Debbie Downer. | Noblige/Getty Images

All you want to do is enjoy your vacation, but it’s hard to do when there’s a Debbie Downer buzzing in your ear. No matter where she is, this person finds something to complain about. The dinner menu isn’t quite to her taste. The pool is too crowded. The excursions are too expensive. The weather is too cold (or too hot). Legitimate complaints are one thing, but the person with a never-ending list of gripes is a buzzkill. With this kind of passenger, you have to wonder why they bother to travel at all, since they seem doomed to be disappointed in everything.

9. The clueless parents

Three children (5-7 years) tying mother with rope in living room
Everyone has witnessed parents like that. | Darrin Klimek/Getty Images

A cruise can be the perfect family-friendly vacation, but some parents seem to think being at sea means they don’t have to supervise their kids. Unsurprisingly, these clueless parents who let their children run wild throughout the ship are a major annoyance to many passengers. After all, no one likes getting in an elevator where someone’s pressed every single button or having to dodge kids racing down the hallways. Sure, we get that no child behaves perfectly 100% of the time. But parents who turn a blind eye to their kid’s misbehavior earn justifiably angry glares from other travelers.

10. The person who’s had a bit too much to drink

This person doesn’t know their limits. | OcusFocus/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Unruly kids are a problem on some cruises, but you’re even more likely to see adults behaving badly on the ship. Often, booze is to blame. Passengers tend to drink way more than they normally do, surveys have found, with predictably chaotic results. Whether they’re weaving down the hallway in a state of serious inebriation, drunkenly shouting at everyone in the pool area, or puking off the side of the boat, there are certain passengers who are going to make you wonder if you’re on a cruise or at a frat party.

Though they’re annoying, drunk passengers are usually harmless. But sometimes, too much alcohol can contribute to fights, accidents, or worse. In fact, most people who fall overboard on cruises have had too much to drink, according to

11. The pier runners

Woman running with shopping bags
They should really wear a watch. | Hybrid Images/Getty Images

If you’ve ever taken cruise, you’ve seen them: The pier runners. They’re the passengers who lose track of time in port and end up having to sprint to make the ship. Not all of them make it, and some end up getting left behind and having to find their own way to the next stop.

Usually these stragglers don’t cause any real inconvenience to other passengers because the captain makes the call to move on. Many people even get a kick out of watching their fellow passengers’ mad dashes down the pier. Still, people who believe a huge boat full of crew members and passengers will wait for them are more than a little annoying.

12. The buffet hogs

Cuisine Culinary Buffet Dinner Catering Dining Food Celebration
Just go back for seconds. | Jure/Getty Images

What is it about an all-you-can-eat buffet that induces a feeding frenzy in some people? When given the option of filling their plates, these people just can’t stop themselves from taking a generous serving of everything, constructing precarious towers of food that seem to defy the laws of physics and sometimes leaving only scraps for the people behind them in line. Some are even bolder. One commenter on Cruise Critic witnessed a woman who helped herself to an entire container of walnuts from the buffet “and proceeded to walk around the buffet area eating out of the crock. She acted like they put them out there just for her to hog.”

We get that people have different appetites, but do these diners really not realize how the buffet works? You can always go back for more if you didn’t get enough food on the first go.

13. The trivia cheats

quiz game
Play by the rules. | Andrewsafonov/Getty Images

A friendly game of trivia is a great way to pass time on your cruise and even make some friends. Unfortunately, not everyone believes they need to play by the rules. The ubiquity of smartphones makes it easier than ever for people to cheat by looking up answers, which isn’t fair to those who want to actually test their knowledge, not their Google skills.

Some cruisers are so annoyed by these rule-breakers that they won’t hesitate to call them out. Reddit user carr1e recalled spotting a couple of trivia cheaters on a cruise. When she saw them again at the next trivia event, she spoke up. “They showed up at the next music trivia and we politely let the host know they were dirty cheaters. Felt good seeing the host tell them to put their tech away.”

14. The person who ignores the dress code

man in suit
Make sure to pay attention to the dress code. |

If you’re the kind of person who looks forward to dressing up for your cruise’s formal evenings, the sight of someone sporting a tank top and flip-flops at the next table over can be a bit annoying. Sure, the idea of dressing up for dinner might seem a bit stuffy to some. But there are almost always other, less formal dining options for those who can’t bother with a button-up shirt. The stubborn passengers who refuse to abide by the stated dress code drag down the experience for those who do.

“We think it’s polite to dress up, not for yourself but for other passengers,” noted the folks at Cruzely. “Formal night is akin to the ship’s prom. Sure, we know that not everyone is mega-rich and wears fancy gowns all the time, but it is fun to dress up occasionally and have a fun night out. Having other passengers take away from the illusion ruins the fun for everyone.”

15. The passenger who forgot how customs and immigration works

woman is showing her documents to check-in attendan
At least she knows what she’s doing. |

Disembarkation day is the worst day of the cruise. Not only is your vacation over, but you usually have to wait in a long line to get off the ship. Those lines are made even worse by passengers who can’t follow basic instructions. We’re talking about the clueless folks who hold up the line for everyone else as they fumble for passports and fill out customs forms.

One Reddit user griped about “waiting in a customs line and getting stuck behind a moron who couldn’t pay attention to the 10 million times they told you to make sure you have your passport out and ready and that you properly fill out the Customs declaration form.”