High Seas, Low Manners: Navigating Human Behavior on a Caribbean Cruise

My second edition of the Newsletter is here folks! Big thanks for the fantastic feedback on the first one. If it’s not your vibe, no hard feelings – hit unsubscribe. But this ones all about being nice… so be just that, and stay plugged in!!  Haha

This month’s highlight: Edith and I went on a Caribbean cruise! After a challenging end to last year, it was the perfect escape to unwind and shake off a bunch of stress.

Neither of us thrives in the winter gloom, and our relationship DNA is encoded with a travel obsession. Opting for a Caribbean cruise combined two of our favourite things: soaking up the sun and exploring bucket list countries we’ve yet to visit.

So we broke our cruise ship virginity and set sail on the Norwegian Sky to visit;

  • Dominican Republic, 
  • Curacao, 
  • Aruba,, 
  • Bonaire, 
  • Grenada, 
  • Tabago – Trinidad & Tabago
  • Barbados, 
  • St Lucia, 
  • Dominica,
  • Antigua, 
  • St Kitts, 
  • St Maarten, 
  • Tortola – British Virgin Islands.

A 14-day cruise: a day in each port, island excursions, and overnight sails to the next destination.

Charting a Course Through Human Behavior

Trying to craft this piece, I wanted it to be more than just a generic lame travel blog or a show-off session. I’m hoping this is something for everyone. Basically as a first time cruiser I found the whole experience to be a masterclass in human behaviour and wanted to share it. 

These last 14 days showcased the spectrum, from the best to the worst in people. Let’s kick off with the worse, setting the stage for a He-Man style ending—because, let’s face it, 80’s kids know those were the best kind of endings.

(Dominican Republic)

Maybe our online shopping habits with Amazon and the influence of Google reviews have conditioned us to harbour lofty expectations. It’s seemingly effortless for us to construct rage like rants when our envisioned perfection is not met. 

Initially, seeing so many negative reviews played to our advantage. Anticipating terrible food, cramped rooms, and an unsightly, ageing ship with rusting paintwork (Imagine being that person, where a spot of flakey paint in an elevator would ruin your vacation). After reading, we of course embarked with low expectations. But we were pleasantly surprised and super happy that none of these things were an issue. 


Shocker – the only thing on this boat worth moaning about was our fellow passengers… Just the naughty ones of course.


Sailing Through Politeness and Pettiness

At the risk of sounding meta, complaining about people complaining, I’ve truly had to check myself everyday since boarding that I’m not sounding like one of these people. 

Being surrounded by habitual complainers on the cruise made me reflect on my own communication habits. Edith will attest, I still do it – a lot! But it’s something I want to change moving forward. It’s an ugly trait, and I no longer want to contribute to negativity in such way.

Secondly, manners were notably absent. The buffet line was filled with demands rather than polite requests. Growing up, my mum taught me to start every sentence with a big fat ‘Please’ and finish with ‘Thank You‘ but it seemed like a lesson lost on many in the buffet queue.

Overheard – “He’s not the brightest kid, but he’s always very polite and nice to everyone” –  Every one of my highschool teachers telling my parents on PTA Evening.


From Gluttony to Gratitude

Human nature tends to lean a bit selfish, especially when it comes to hoarding resources or food. I anticipated the buffet scene on the first day, with people piling their plates sky-high as if preparing for a food marathon. Silly me thought this trend would taper off after a few days, given the evident abundance on the ship. But no, gluttony was a must, akin to presenting a boarding card. I even returned with a few extra kilograms attached, though we did attempt to counterbalance it by taking the stairs instead of the elevator.


Funny story, on one of our regular stair climbs, someone in the group joined us and shouted back to the crowd awaiting the elevator,  ‘I’m taking the express elevator too!‘  To which I joked, ‘That’s funny, mate, because you’re the first American I’ve seen use the stairs this week.’  His response? ‘That’s funny because I’m not American, I’m Canadian.’  We shared a good laugh, indulging in an international poke at our U.S. archetype fat friends lazily awaiting a ping. Take the stairs, people!


The bad behaviour wasn’t confined to the buffet line either; it extended to everything from fighting for sun chairs to pushing in front of others to snap the perfect photo. Some were so vain, thinking they themselves were the prize view, spending ages hogging landscapes with their selfie poses. 

Quick photo tip: If you notice someone trying to take a selfie, offer to take it for them. It’s called being nice and selfie posers are just weird!


Enduring the brunt of this bad behaviour were, of course, the staff, and I must applaud how much these mostly young, mostly Filipino and Indonesian service staff could cope with it, always with a smile and such humbleness. These individuals, for the most part, have left their families and friends across the globe for many months at a time, in order to earn a decent living, often sending the money back home where their loved ones have fewer opportunities. The lengths that some of the staff would go to, I would say, exemplifies the very best of human behaviour. They surely must look at the majority of the passengers as ‘pigs at the trough,’ but I also imagine they are too kind and warm-hearted to think that too.

(St. Lucia)

After a few days we found ourselves doubling down on politeness, being extra kind to the staff, asking about their backstories, and expressing how much we appreciated their hard work. If someone in front of us was rude, we’d be double kind. The bar staff would then remember our names and our order, prioritising us next time and going out of their way to make us feel as happy as we had made them feel simply by showing our appreciation for them.


Not everyone was a monster, though. We also met some great fellow passengers on our wavelength, including a lovely couple funnily named Richard & Judy (not to be confused with the British TV presenters resembling Alan Partridge & his booby fallout disaster wife). Also a cool pair named Linda and Fraser, spelt like the ‘House of Fraser’, you’ll upset this beautiful beast if you pronounce it like the American sitcom ‘Fraizer’, and he’ll drink you under the table regardless. Not to forget the incredibly talented ship pianist Ben Parker, and the Author and Cathedral expert Ken (like Barbie’s BF). These connections made the trip truly enjoyable and made the cruise worthwhile.

(St. Kitts)

Anyways the He-Man moral happy ending thing…

You can really brighten someone’s day with a bit of gratitude. Being polite in a sea of rudeness goes a long way. It’s a reminder to extend kindness beyond the ship, as you see the contagious impact of making someone’s day by being a good person and expressing appreciation.

Edith always reminds me when I play up, “you’re better than that, Jason.” But sometimes witnessing the worst in people serves as a needed reminder to strive for better in oneself.

(St. Maarten)

Let’s challenge ourselves to catch those moments when ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ slip away. Resist pushing in line at the airport, remembering you already have pre assigned seats, reframe statements into questions, and perhaps, avoid scrambling for the last piece of pie in the buffet like it’s your last meal you’ll ever eat. Small acts can make a big difference, so be nice!

(Tortola, British Virgin Islands)

With that I really appreciate you for reading this. You lot are the best! Be good to one another, and let’s chat next month!

P.s. I’d do another cruise for sure. The ship and the staff were fantastic. Wanna join us?