Cruise Ship Hot Tub Hogs

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Question: What's with large groups of people taking over the hot tubs on cruise ships?

On my last cruise, there was an extended family who was always in the hot tub -- literally for hours on end. I went in a couple of times anyway and they didn't move over at all, or tell their kids not to bump into me ... they just sat in there as if they owned it. I was too chicken to ask them to leave, though. What's the etiquette for this?

Answer: It's rude to monopolize any cruise-ship facility that's open to all guests. So if the ship has a karaoke booth, you can't be in there for hours on end working your way through the entire Beatles catalogue. Your kids might love shuffleboard or ping pong on the deck, but you shouldn't let them play all day while other kids stand there waiting. So I think that family was being extremely rude. Plus, kids really aren't supposed to be in hot tubs -- particularly for "hours on end."

I'm glad you went ahead and went in anyway -- it's important to make it clear that yes, other people actually do want to use the hot tub. But since this was an ongoing problem, I'd have had a word with the pool staff. They're in a much better position to ask them all to move along.

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Question: Could you tell people that when they're getting off an airplane, they shouldn't stop dead the second they step from the plane into the jetway? I understand wanting to get your coat on or your bags organized, but you can move off to the side to do that instead of holding up a whole plane full of people behind you.

Answer: I think you just took care of that yourself.

Question: I have had it up to here with incomprehensible gate announcements at airports! It seems like the gate agents rush through everything, mumble, don't hold the mic up to their mouth ... it's annoying and confusing. Last week, an agent with a slight foreign accent was calling passenger names off the standby list. She was going so fast that literally nobody could tell whose name she was calling. But when someone asked her to repeat the announcement while speaking more clearly, she said, "Sir, I simply have an accent. You don't have to be rude."

I didn't think he was being rude -- it was the speed that was the problem, not her accent! If a native English speaker had been speaking that fast, he or she would've been equally incomprehensible. What do you think?

Answer: It's all in how you ask. Saying, "Can you speak more clearly? We have no clue what you just said!" is very different from, "Sorry, but we didn't catch some of the names you called. Can you please read the standby list again?"

You didn't say exactly what the other passenger said to the gate agent, but if it was a bit curt, I could see why she might bristle. And accents are a very sensitive subject for some people, whether they're foreign or regional. Again, I don't know how the other passenger asked her to repeat the names, but in response to, "You don't have to be rude," I would simply have explained that her accent was not the issue -- it was how fast she was talking.

Lesley Carlin has been writing professionally about travel and etiquette for more than 10 years. As one of the Etiquette Grrls, she is the co-author of "Things You Need to Be Told" and "More Things You Need to Be Told" (Berkley). Have a travel etiquette question of your own? E-mail Lesley at