An evening on the water: dinner cruise tips and etiquette

An evening on the water: dinner cruise tips and etiquette

Booking a dinner cruise is a nice alternative to dining in a regular restaurant. Not only will you get great food, but you will get to see the sights of the city or countryside from a perspective that you may never have before.

Dining on a ship, however, is a little different than taking a meal at the restaurant at the end of your street. There are differences in service and in atmosphere that you should be ready for. So, whether you are on a large cruise ship or just taking an evening’s Thames Dinner Cruise for a few hours, here are a couple of tips that will help you experience be more enjoyable.

Be prepared

There are some things that you should do to get prepared for your dinner cruise that you may not think about on any other night.

First, you should be aware that the ship may sway from side to side, a little or a lot, depending on the condition of the river or other body of water you are cruising in. For those who are not used to being on the water, this can lead to seasickness, which will ruin your time and everyone else’s who is with you. If you think that you may succumb to seasickness, but insist on going, then make sure to take a motion sickness medicine such as Dramamine a few hours before embarking. If you feel sickness coming on while you are on the ship, peppermint sweets can help settle your stomach.

Make sure you dress for the occasion. If the cruise is upmarket, you can wear your favourite suit or dress, but you should bring something to cover up with. Many times, the air on the water is cooler than that over land, so if you want to spend some time on deck, you will want a light jacket to protect you from the winds.

Finally, arrive at the ship with time to spare. They will not wait for you if you are late, so make sure to arrive at least 15 minutes early.

Be patient

There is a great deal of planning for even a few hours’ cruise around the river, so understand that things may take a little more time than you are used to. This means that, while your waiting staff are trying to serve you and your companions the best they can, there can be some delays.

Remember, they are on the same ship as you are, so if it’s a little wobbly, they are feeling it as well, and it can make their jobs harder. They may have trouble pouring drinks, or the chef may take a little longer to prepare the meals, but you can rest assured that they will be out in a timely manner and that they want you to have a great experience. So, if it seems as if it’s taking longer than normal, relax and have a great conversation!

Think about the bill

If the meal is paid for in advance, then you can relax and enjoy yourself. If, however, you will pay at the end and you are dining with a group of friends, you should discuss how the bill will be paid at the end of the meal.

There are two ways to go about this. You can split the amount evenly between everybody, but this may lead to some confusion as to who ordered what and why someone should pay a certain amount when they only had a salad. The best thing to do is to let your server know ahead of time that the bill will be split, and tell them who will be on which one. This will make everything much simpler once the final bill arrives.


Tipping etiquette varies from country to country, so make sure you know the etiquette for the city you are in.

In many places, a tip of 15% or so of the total bill is fair, and even more if the server does a particularly good job. Make sure, however, to look at the bill to see if service is already included. Many places will add a 15% charge for services, saving you the time of figuring out what you should tip. If this is the case but you want to leave a little extra, there’s nothing wrong with that either!

Dinner cruises can be a fun way to experience something different. When you’re ready to take one, remember these simple tips.

Tom Warsop is the Managing Director of Thames Cruises London which is owned and operated by the Travel & Entertainment Group. Tom operates a number of businesses within the leisure sector including the Thames Dinner Cruise brand. Tom launched the Thames Dinner Cruise brand in 2004 which has since provided 1000s of customers with a memorable journey along the river.