Cruise Travel: Photography

Say cheese!

Cruise ship photography is a fun and easy way to make sure that you have tangible memories of your cruise. No vacation is complete without pictures. Whether they're corny snapshots or posed masterpieces, photographs make excellent souvenirs to keep or to share with family and friends. On a cruise, professional photographers are available to make the most of your vacation memories, and cruise photography is an excellent way to commemorate a once-in-a-lifetime vacation

Types of Cruise Photography

Cruise ship photographers are experienced professionals who are interested in making certain your pictures are wonderful mementos of your vacation. There are three basic types of cruise photography:

  • Formal Poses: Taken either in picturesque areas of the ship or in front of a variety of studio backdrops, these poses are a staple of cruise photography. The photographer will direct how different individuals should stand and may offer suggestions for different angles or poses.
  • Candid Shots: Photographers often roam the ship, particularly during days at sea when passengers are involved in a number of wacky activities and contests. Passengers may be asked to pose with a costumed performer, life preserver, or other prop. Other candid shots are often taken during dinner in the main dining rooms.
  • Embarkation and Debarkation Photos: The very first picture of a cruise vacation is before you ever step on board: the embarkation picture featuring a themed backdrop, possibly with the ship's name and departure date. At every port of call, photographers will be on hand to take pictures from the gangway as passengers leave for various shore tours.

Cruise photography knows very few limits. Photographers are equipped to handle individuals, couples, and both large and small groups. Even if the photographer suggests a specific pose, passengers are free to create their own wacky styles for truly unique pictures. In addition to established photo sessions and situations, passengers can request a photographer to appear at a group event or they can schedule individual photography sessions for an extra charge if time is available.

When Pictures are Taken

The majority of cruise photography takes place at designated times. Debarkation photos, for example, are not available during the entire time the ship is docked: the first hour while excursions and the majority of passengers depart is the best time to participate in these unique photos. Formal poses are arranged prior to the main dining times on designated evenings, especially on formal nights. Specific times and locations will be listed in each day's cruise newsletter.


The traditional backdrop pose involves one foot forward with the hips slightly turned for a stylish effect. Couples may be holding hands, have their arms around one another, or even kissing. On certain nights, black-and-white photographs or close-up shots will be offered and may involve stools or columns to lean upon. The most frequent poses occur in front of backdrops, including scenes such as:

  • Underwater tropical reefs
  • The ship at night or sunset
  • Beaches with tropical foliage
  • Neutral color swathes or patterns
  • Ivy columns or floral vases
  • A grand staircase or other "golden age of cruising" scene

Depending on the ship's layout, other poses may be offered in front of sculptures, staircases, or similarly picturesque venues. Occasionally, a ship will offer themed photos such as old west or Victorian era poses complete with period costumes.

Buying Professional Cruise Photography

Passengers can visit the ship's photo gallery to view their pictures, which are usually posted within a day. Fold-out walls and tiered racks can display thousands of photos, and particular themes are grouped together (all debarkation shots, for example) for locating ease. Newer ships are starting to offer a complete digital experience where passengers can use their ship ID cards to access all their available pictures and perhaps even enhance the images.


There is no obligation to buy professional cruise photos, and the pictures will typically be available for several days, allowing passengers to choose amongst their favorites. Prices vary according to size, and most cruise photography is printed as 5x7 or 8x10 portraits. For shorter cruises, all the pictures may be available for the duration of the voyage, but because of the sheer amount of pictures taken on longer cruises, earlier shots may not be available near the end of the cruise. Passengers are encouraged to discard unwanted photos in designated bins throughout the voyage to help save space.

Different Sizes and Duplicates

Ship's photo labs are equipped to create duplicate pictures, even different sizes such as 2x3 shots or wallet-sized pictures. In order to purchase smaller sizes, however, passengers must usually purchase the original photograph first. Duplicates can be made within a day, even overnight on the last evening of the cruise.

Photo Accessories

There is a range of photo accessories available from the ship's photo gallery to augment and preserve professional cruise photography. Albums and frames are popular items, and standard photographs of the ship or different picturesque areas will also be available for purchase. Frames come in a wide range of styles, from simple elegant items to elaborately detailed frames, all emblazoned with the cruise line's name or logo as an additional memento. The photo gallery may also be able to develop personal film and will have a hefty supply of film available for purchase.

Taking Your Own Cruise Photos

Many passengers arrive for their cruise equipped with their own cameras to preserve all their vacation memories. While taking pictures on board, however, travelers should remember a few key points of courtesy:

  • Photography is not permitted during live shows and performances because of international copyright laws
  • Photography may not be permitted inside a casino for security reasons
  • Personal cameras are not typically allowed to be used in conjunction with stylized backdrops

In addition to a personal camera, many passengers may want to invest in an underwater camera for their vacation, particularly if their itinerary includes tropical destinations where snorkeling and other water excursions are popular.

From formal poses to quirky candids, cruise photography is designed to help vacationers preserve their cruising memories. With a wide variety of poses, settings, and options available, passengers can easily find the perfect picture to commemorate their vacation and inspire them toward future cruises.

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Cruise Travel: Photography