Cruise ship buffets are one of the highlights for many travelers, offering an array of delicious options in a picturesque setting. But, there are certain unwritten rules that passengers should follow to ensure a pleasant experience for everyone. According to cruise ship workers, here are 18 things you should never do at a cruise ship buffet:

Overloading Your Plate

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While it might be tempting to pile your plate high with all the mouth-watering options, it’s better to take smaller portions and make multiple trips. This helps reduce food waste and ensures there’s enough for everyone.

Ignoring Buffet Etiquette

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Respecting the buffet line is good manners so you should always wait your turn and avoid cutting in front of others. This common courtesy helps maintain order and keeps the experience enjoyable for all passengers rather than it being a free-for-all.

Using Your Hands

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Always use the provided utensils to serve yourself, as using your hands can spread germs and is considered unhygienic. Tongs and spoons are there for a reason, so use them to keep the food safe for everyone. If you have children with you, show them how to use the utensils so they don’t stick their dirty hands in the food. 

Double Dipping

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Research on double dipping published in the National Library of Medicine showed that three to six immersions of the cracker into a dip managed to transfer about 10,000 bacteria from the mouth to the dip. Once you’ve taken a bite, avoid dipping the same chip or utensil back into shared condiments or sauces. Double dipping spreads bacteria and is a major health hazard.

Taking Food Back to Your Cabin

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While it might seem convenient, taking food back to your cabin can attract pests and create a mess. This can create more work for the cleaning staff on the ship who already have a heavy workload. It’s best to enjoy your meals in designated dining areas to keep your cabin clean and hygienic. 

Not Washing Your Hands

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Hand hygiene is crucial on a cruise ship to prevent the spread of illness. You should always wash your hands before entering the buffet area to protect yourself and others from germs. It also goes without saying that you should always wash your hands after going to the bathroom to prevent spreading germs around the ship.

Sampling with Fingers

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While the food may look irresistible, you should resist the urge to sample it with your fingers. If you’re unsure about a dish, ask a staff member for a small sample or take a small portion on your plate to try and go back in line to get a larger portion if you like it. 

Hovering Over Food

You should avoid standing too close to the food trays while deciding what to take from the buffet.  This can make others uncomfortable and increases the risk of hair or other contaminants falling into the food. 

Allowing Kids to Serve Themselves

While it’s great to let children make their own choices, it’s better to help them at the buffet to prevent too much mess. Kids can sometimes be less careful with utensils and portions, which can lead to spills and contamination, which may put other travelers off their food. 

Sneezing or Coughing Near the Food

One sneeze can carry germs for almost six feet, according to National Geographic. If you need to sneeze or cough, step away from the buffet area and return to the line once sneezes have subsided. You should also use a tissue or your elbow to cover your mouth and nose, and wash your hands before returning to the line.

Ignoring Dietary Signs

Buffet items are often labeled to indicate dietary restrictions or allergens. Pay attention to these signs to avoid accidental consumption of foods that might be harmful to you or others, and never move a sign.

Leaving Food Uncovered

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When serving yourself, ensure that lids or covers are replaced properly after taking food. This keeps the food fresh and protected from flies and other insects that are common in warm climates. 

Mixing Serving Utensils

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Pay attention to the serving utensils you’re using and keep them in their designated dishes to avoid cross-contamination. Mixing utensils between dishes can spread allergens and bacteria, which is dangerous for those with food sensitivities.

Licking Fingers

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It’s important to avoid licking your fingers after handling food while you’re at the buffet as you could transfer germs on utensils that others will use after you. Use napkins or wash your hands to keep the buffet area clean and prevent the spread of germs.

Touching Multiple Items

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When selecting bread, pastries, or any item where you use tongs, avoid touching multiple pieces before deciding. Touching several items increases the risk of contamination, so always select the first one you pick up and never put it back in the basket. 

Leaving Your Plate Unattended

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If you need to leave your table for any reason, make sure your plate is placed where it won’t be accidentally taken or touched by others. This prevents food from being wasted and keeps the area tidy.

Complaining Loudly

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If you have an issue with the food or service, discreetly speak to a staff member. Loud complaints can ruin the dining experience for other passengers and are often unnecessary. Things can often go wrong at dining times as cruises can get very busy, so you should give staff an opportunity to sort your issue calmly.

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Read: 15 Foods You Shouldn’t Eat After 50

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