October 31, 2023 | J. Hunter

Cruise Ship Horror Stories


Sailing on the open sea to different places around the world is an amazing experience. But problems do happen, and sometimes, the passengers and crew have absolutely no idea that they are in danger. It's only once the truth comes out that they realize just how terrifying the cruise ship experience can be. Read on for cruise ship horrors.


1. Down For A Good Time

I was working when a ship from another cruise line called our officers because they had found one of our passengers floating in the ocean. That news was wild enough, but the details really made our jaws drop. They found him nowhere near shore, just floating in the middle of the open water alive and well. We reviewed the security footage to see what happened.

In the middle of the night, this guy was plastered holding his phone and dancing alone. Then he climbed onto a lifeboat, put his phone down, and did a running jump into the ocean. Somehow, he wasn’t injured when he fell in and was later rescued after the other ship found him. His family hadn’t even noticed he was gone.

The guy later told the news that a rogue wave pushed him off the side of the ship. Where he was, the wave would have had to be over 40 feet tall.

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2. Dire Emergency

I went on a cruise when one morning, the crew and wait staff at breakfast looked stone-cold but clearly upset. To all of our confusion, we had to do an extra lifeboat drill. Later, we found out the startling reason why that drill was necessary—our sister ship apparently sank overnight. No other details were given. My partner wasn't with me and he didn't know which ship I was on.

She found out before us and was terrified until I reached out to her the next morning using the ship's internet. The crew was upset because many of them had family members on the other ship. It took a few days for things to get back to fairly normal. I remember doing the lifeboat drills thinking they were a waste of time...But I learned my lesson that day.

Molly Brown FactsShutterstock

3. Everybody’s Body

The ship just arrived at the port when an elderly passenger had a heart attack and collapsed. The ship’s medical team went to attend to the passenger even though there was not much left to do. But the port security stopped them because it happened off the ship and was technically within the local authority’s jurisdiction.

So, the port officials decided to do the most appalling thing ever—they bagged the body and held it in an X-ray machine storage container. The deceased’s wife continued with the trip, and the cruise line paid for her trip plus the transfer fees for returning the remains home. For the remainder of her vacation, she also had a personal assistant to keep her company.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsShutterstock

4. Stinking Up The Show

I was on stage playing guitar. In the middle of the song, the house lights suddenly turned on then the curtains closed. Everyone in the audience looked at me, so I ran off the stage. I found out that a sewage pipe burst backstage leaving a gross stinky mess. The show was canceled and no explanation was given to the passengers.

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5. Loading Error

The ship’s computer systems run Windows 7 on all of the automation in the machinery space, the security system,  the fire detection system, etc. When there’s a software update, all the computers must restart. So, during every update, each computer turns off, which has an absolutely terrifying consequence—essentially, the ship sails completely blind until it’s finished.

Also, fires happen occasionally. The fire suppression systems extinguishing them efficiently, so the crew is rarely concerned about them. That is unless there’s a computer update happening at the time of the fire.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsShutterstock

6. Looking For Clues

I used to be a crew member. One time, a guy working at the front desk jumped overboard after a crew party. The coast guard found him a few hours later, and the crew was asked to be discrete in order to avoid panicking the passengers. Everything was fine...until the PA came on and caught the crew off-guard. The captain spilled what had happened, and he would soon regret it.

As soon as the passengers heard that, rumors spread around the whole ship. And for the rest of the trip, the passengers were in full panic mode, constantly asking crew members to tell them what happened. The levels of stress on the ship were completely off the meter and we

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsUnsplash

7. Losing Speed

I provide software services for most of the major cruise lines, so I spend a lot of time on ships. One time, a massive ship set out on its first sail from the yard. Three hours in, I was working in an empty restaurant and heard a big thump. Then the room started shaking. My first thought was to watch the crew’s reaction.

If they’re calm, it’s usually not a big deal. It's when the crew starts panicking that you know you need to get out of there. They showed some concern but continued about their business, so I followed suit. Then, there was another thump with even more vigorous shaking. Silence followed. Nothing came of it, so I asked some of the crew.

When they told me what those thumps actually were, my face went white. I learned that the first thump was the ship losing two engines, and the next one took out the rest of them. So, our ship had no propulsion and was floating wherever the ocean took us. The passengers only knew that the ship was running late and, to avoid panic, they were told to keep enjoying their time with drinks on the house.

In the early morning, a helicopter arrived and dopped down crates of engine parts. Soon, the ship had propulsion and continued on its way. The passengers were none the wiser about the delay and didn’t really seem to care.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsUnsplash

8. Quick Fix

One of the propellers stopped working because the lubricating oil was contaminated. The engineering staff told us that it went from fine to completely unrepairable in less than ten seconds. Instead of replacing it, the divers decided to go with a totally risky "fix"—they stripped the blades off on the next turnaround day then left it like that for the next six months.

The ship just ran the other propellers at 110%, and port stays had to be shortened to compensate for the reduced speed. No one considered what’d happen if another one stopped working in the middle of the storm. It was a brand-new ship but it leaked through the front gates, leaving three inches of water on the luggage deck.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsPixabay

9. Keeping To Myself

I was a passenger and I was talking to one of the crew members late at night. He told me that on an earlier cruise, someone had passed in a hot tub on their first night out of port, and no one knew for hours. But it gets worse—the body stayed propped up with his sunglasses keeping people from noticing, and several passengers even sat with it.

They had just assumed he hadn’t wanted to socialize for whatever reason. The crew discovered him when they were closing the pool area for the night and moved the body downstairs to the morgue. No one found out other than except the man’s family who later had to be notified.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsFlickr, Jasperdo

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10. No Man Left Behind

There was a time when I played on the ship’s show band. We had docked and were supposed to be back on the ship by 6 pm sharp to leave the port by 6:30 pm. A lot of us were stumbling back around 5:30 pm when our music director’s phone rang. As soon as he answered, his smile disappeared and his face turned red. He cursed loudly.

Before the rest of us were able to ask questions, he took off full sprint out of the docking area. Usually, the band stayed together, but that day, our keyboard player wasn’t with us. He was a notorious partier and often pretty sloppy and reckless. With no information, we just boarded and told security what had happened.

We headed to the crew bar for more drinks and to waited for our musical director and keyboard player. 6 pm came and past and so did 6:30 pm. At 6:40 pm, the ship still didn’t move. It was strange since the crew usually waited for no one. Finally, at 6:45 pm, the ship began to depart, and our musical director finally arrived.

He told us that our keyboard player got mixed up with an undercover officer and was taken to the local station. The director had to bail him out, which took no time at all. None of the crew knew exactly what happened or why we’d been late on departure. But our keyboard player had to stay on the ship whenever we ported.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsPiqsels

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11. Over And Done With

Most of the passengers on my cruise were senior citizens. One older gentleman had passed while lying on a sunbed. Luckily, one of the officers realized quickly and called over two staff members whose English wasn’t too good. Then the officer told them to get rid of the body before any of the passengers could notice. Meanwhile, the officer looked for the man’s wife to alert her.

After consoling her, she asked if she could see the body, so he brought her to the freezer. When they got there, they both gasped in disbelief—the freezer was completely empty. Furious, he tracked down the staff responsible and tore them a new one. When he asked where the body was, they just looked at each other. One said that they got rid of the body just like he’d ordered.

He was still confused. And then the men, to his horror, just motioned throwing something overboard.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsShutterstock

12. Professional Help

We went on a cruise to Norway on our honeymoon. As we traveled further north, the temperature kept dropping. It was so cold that the ship’s pipes froze, and the electricity went out. The crew made lunch in the dark with staff holding torches! The captain later said that the ship had never endured such low temperatures.

Then, when we headed back south, the frozen pipes melted which resulted in water damage. Some staircases and a mini buffet were closed. Then, when we disembarked, there was an announcement over the PA seeking any plumbers on board to assist in fixing it.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsUnsplash

13. Too Late

A passenger was going through a breakup, and his girlfriend ended their relationship over the phone while he was on board. He went to his mother’s cabin, said goodbye, and before anyone could do anything, he did the unthinkable—he ran to one of the decks and jumped over 100 feet into the water. Rescue boats searched for him for hours and hours.

They never recovered the body, and most people assumed that he was sucked under the ship and into the propulsion system. Since the general rule was to only tell passengers what they need to know, the crew had to stay quiet.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsPxHere

14. Any Body’s Game

As a contractor for a cruise line, I jump from ship to ship a lot and interact with countless guests and crew. Many people decide to take their lives while on cruises, and no one finds out until someone reports them or hears a splash. One cruise even ran out of space for the number of bodies they had. So, to make space in the freezer, they improvised in the most ironic way—threw a surprise ice cream party for the crew.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsShutterstock

15. Win Some, Lose Some

The cruise director was strolling along a guest corridor when he came across an old man sitting on the floor in front of his cabin. He asked if the man was okay. He looked up and shook his head. He told him that his wife had passed overnight and was still in bed. Security came and discovered that it was true. She was gone.

So, arrangements were made to store the body, then return her to the man and send them home immediately. But in the morning, the man had a surprising response to the proposed plan—he said that he wanted to stay for the rest of the trip instead, as it was what his wife would have wanted. He ended up having a great time despite his loss. He won bingo and attended the captain’s cocktail party in a formal dress.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsUnsplash

16. Running Out Of Time

All the public areas of the ship like the theater,  the spa, and the gym are open on the first day so passengers can see what’s available. An older man was checking out the gym in his Hawaiian shirt, jeans, and flip-flops, and he decided to use a treadmill. Well, all was fine until he let out a startling grunt that made everybody's head turn. He had a heart attack and was gone before we’d even left the port.

It was really unfortunate because there was a big glass wall between the gym and the pool deck. That meant that any passengers there had to witness it happening before the crew could shut down the space. The pool and gym were closed, the body was removed, and the cruise set sail a few hours late. There was no announcement.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsShutterstock

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17. Sibling Rivalry

One night, a teenage girl and her younger brother were having a serious argument on an open deck. The girl was much bigger and she grabbed him by the throat. I thought she wouldn't take it farther than that, but I was so, so wrong—she proceeded to dangle him over the side of the ship. The ship was in the middle of the ocean, and it was pitch black outside. Fortunately, security happened to catch them.

They prevented her from dropping her brother overboard, and the girl had to stay in the brig overnight. The next morning, the family disembarked as soon as possible.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsShutterstock

18. Rolling In The Deep

On the second day of a two-week voyage to Antarctica, a water pipe burst in a storeroom and soaked all of the spare toilet paper. The cabin stewards swapped around between “low use” and “high use” guest cabins. It came right down to the wire, but none of the guests found out. Now, toilet paper is hidden in every single cabin.

Out of toilet paperKapustin Igor, Shutterstock

19. All Eyes On Deck

I worked the front desk on a cruise ship. One afternoon, we received dozens of reports that there was a man overboard as we passed by an especially scenic area. There were a lot of people out on the decks and balconies who saw the person in the water. Of course, the ship did a 180 and sent boats out to look for the person.

When they rescued the guy, the crew immediately recognized who it was. It was the safety officer, and while he was exhausted, he was OK. Everyone assumed that he, as the safety officer, jumped in after the person, so the boats kept looking. But the truth was much darker than that—the officer was having an especially rough day and he thought jumping in would solve his problems. The guests thought he was a passenger in a bathrobe.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsUnsplash

20. Blending In

I used to work as a cruise photographer. A few days into one of the trips, we got word there was a stowaway who had somehow made it onto the ship and hung around for days before being seen. One night, someone reported a guy acting weird in a bar, but security couldn't figure out who he was based on the passenger lists and photos. Stowaways are not supposed to happen.

There is security personnel everywhere monitoring every passenger, down to when they use their room keys for transactions. Also, there’s no cash option, and no one can even get off the ship without being scanned, so it was a mystery how he managed to pull it off. When security questioned him about it, he spilled the truth—and it blew everyone's minds.

Turns out, he was just a good-looking young guy who found larger groups of attractive people and then mingled with them. He just looked like he belonged. They had no idea how he ever got on the ship. He’d befriended single women on the cruise to buy him drinks and take him to dinner. Then, he stayed with them in their rooms. He said that he did it because he wanted to see if he could. In the end, he was caught and given a room.

They couldn’t drop him anywhere legally and paid him to keep his mouth shut. Stowaways are bad for business for everyone.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsShutterstock

21. Opening Up

I joined a small cruise line after I got laid off from my construction job. So many things would happen on the ship that the passengers have no idea about. But this story is why I’ll never go on a cruise. After a couple of weeks, I proved myself to be a dependable deckhand and I was promoted to engine room attendant.

At about the four-month mark, the ship was put in a dry dock for some regular maintenance, so they flew me to Charleston where I got on a new ship. It was 100’ longer than the previous ship and it had a whole different engine room layout, as well as different computers for the generators and the engines. I basically had to start from scratch and learn the new ship.

I had the first mate show me the engine room and walk me through some of the basic systems. Later, I was in my bunk to get some rest before my shift started. Suddenly, one of the other deckhands threw my door open and began shaking me awake. He was shouting about how the captain needed me in the engine room right away.

Half asleep, I threw on what I could find and went hastily. Another deckhand was coming out as I arrived. He tossed me a walkie-talkie and wished me luck before bolting. I looked over the starboard and saw that we were 20 yards from shore in total darkness. I made my way downstairs where red-hot lights were flashing everywhere.

I freaked out. The captain was yelling about the engine temperatures. I just managed to make out the curse-laden order to switch engines. I started the other engine to warm it up while trying to read the information booklets. My walkie-talkie came alive with the captain shouting to switch engines now. Aye, aye, Captain.

I switched the engines and shut down the other thinking all was well. Then the mayhem began. The engine that I had just started stopped. There was more loud cursing over the radio as we drifted closer to shore. I tried to restart it.  It only worked for a few minutes, and then the captain screamed at me to hit the green button.

There were 16 green buttons. The first mate came to my side to help figure it out. We were both in full panic mode. I heard the anchor drop and any attempts to start the other engines failed. People were just blindly pushing buttons anywhere they could. Meanwhile, I was still reading the manual...and that's when I discovered the problem.

The water valves were closed. I opened both then tried the engines, which came to life easily. As relief washed over us, we pulled the anchor and continued. No passengers knew and we received no complaints. We later learned that the guy I replaced was fired and he had closed the valves on purpose. It could have been quite serious.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsUnsplash

22. Rushing To Safety

I was working the overnight shift at the front desk when the emergency alarm started sounding off while we were at sea. Everyone was calm, but I was freaking out because I knew this was no ordinary alarm—it meant that the passengers had to go to their emergency muster stations that were only used in extreme emergencies. From what I heard, the crew decks broke out into absolute mayhem.

Crew members were seen sprinting in their underwear to their cabins to change into their emergency gear. Everyone was literally preparing for an order from the captain to abandon the ship. In the end, we found out that a system malfunction made the alarm only ring in the crew areas while passengers slept soundly in their cabins, completely oblivious.

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23. A Near Miss

I worked on a small cruise ship in south Alaska. We had a new chief mate as ours had gone to work elsewhere. He ran ships to oil rigs in the gulf and was supposed to be “highly qualified". It was pitch black on his first night, and all the deckhands were just supposed to stand at their posts and look out the windows with binoculars.

That was it—we weren’t allowed to do much else. The bridge was small, and I was on one side with the radar screen and spotlight controls. Since I was just a watch officer, I had nothing to do with controlling the ship, which was why all the other controls and navigation tools were on the other side with the chief mate.

We were cruising through a few small islands when my shift ended. Someone came to relieve me, but I stuck around to chat with him and the new chief mate. That was when I saw a shadow on the water by one of the islands. It didn’t look right at all to me, so I jumped to the spotlight control and shone it in that direction. When the unknown objects came into view, our faces went white.

Being a deckhand, I wasn’t supposed to touch the controls, but we were lucky that I did. A few boat lengths in front of the ship were rock and gravel shoals. It was also low tide. The chief mate hastily cranked the wheel hard. The ship barely missed hitting it, but the sudden turn rocked the boat, startling the people on board.

We stood on the bridge in shock, grateful that nothing worse happened. Later, when the captain arrived, we told him our experience from earlier. The captain told us to write a report, then take shore leave. We were reluctant since we knew that the chief mate was going to know that we tattled on him, but we did what the captain ordered and went to shore for a few hours.

When we got back on the ship, the new guy was gone, and a replacement was there to meet us via seaplane the next day. We found out that the new guy was sent packing because he’d only followed the GPS plots, which only serve as a guide. He didn’t use any of the actual navigational aid on the bridge or mark the logbook properly.

My partner and I received safety awards later that year, but we were asked to not tell anyone why. It wasn't until the end of the season that we told the rest of the crew. It would have been a very different night had I not seen that shoal.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsShutterstock

24. Get It Out

A passenger went missing, and nobody could find him for a couple of days. When we did find him, we were taken aback by the horrific scene—he had taken his life in the fan room, which meant the ship had been filling up with decomposing body air for quite some time. We definitely didn’t tell any of the passengers about that.

The crew drank a lot, so I coped with the traumatizing situation by drinking with them. No one suspected anything since it was normal to get off the ship, get smashed, then get back on. Then, one turnaround day, when a new group of passengers was arriving, the crew prepared to take attendance for a life jacket demonstration. And that day, I was absolutely wasted; still depressed over the man who had passed.

What proceeded was a moment I am really not proud of. I threw up in the stairwell as the passengers were coming onboard. Surprisingly, I was not reprimanded.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsShutterstock

25. Coming Down Swinging

I worked on a cruise ship that just had a refit in the dry dock with brand new furnishings. There was a giant chandelier over the main lobby that was installed by a company that didn’t do cruise work. They ended up using the wrong sized bolts that couldn’t withstand the force of the ship’s movement. This was a two-ton chandelier.

Inevitably, the bolts sheared, and the chandelier crashed onto the atrium dock in the middle of the night. That was lucky it happened when it did because the atrium held events like cocktail parties and fashion shows all day. If the timing was different, it could’ve been a much more disastrous and possibly fatal event.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsUnsplash

26. Getting Real Lit

While we were docked, a barge had come around the other side to fuel the ship. That night, the crew was having a “back-to-school” themed party in the guest lounge at the top of the ship. The lounge was nice with wrap-around windows, and everyone was wearing scandalous costumes, drinking, and having a great time.

We were partying well after midnight and watched as a jet of flames flared up next to the ship by the barge. We thought nothing of it at first, but things quickly went south—somehow, the barge’s exhaust vent ignited. The ship wasn’t on fire, but the crew still had to prepare just in case one started. Hilarity and chaos ensued with schoolgirls and dorks running around in panic.

The dockworkers were able to control the fire threat before passengers were alerted. In the end, we were able to call off the emergency. It was fun, but it definitely ruined the party.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsShutterstock

27. Close To The Finish

I was a passenger onboard a Royal Caribbean ship. It was the end of our trip, and we were docking in New Orleans. While waiting to disembark, we stayed in our adjoining cabins. I stepped onto the balcony for some fresh air and to watch the cargo barges going down the Mississippi River. Suddenly, I heard a faint voice that sent chills up my spine.

After a minute, I heard it again. It sounded like someone crying for help. I called my friends outside to listen to it, but they didn’t hear anything. I started scanning the water and I saw driftwood on the far side of the river. I worriedly asked my friends if that could be a person. They said no, but I was adamant about finding out for sure.

By that point, a very large barge was approaching whatever was floating in the water. Fearing it could be a person, I ran down the hallway to the first room attendant I found and told them what I saw. They immediately dialed a direct line to the bridge relaying the position where I last spotted the object. Moments later, sirens were blaring.

People came running to the side of the ship. Everyone was shouting that the barge was going to run over what we knew now was clearly a struggling person. Amazingly, the barge just missed the person. Then a tugboat fired up and moved to rescue the person before they went out of sight.

Near-Death Experiences FactsPixabay

28. Mixed Drinks

I worked on a river cruise ship in Oregon on the Hood River and the majority of our passengers were elderly. Well, one passenger was on a medication that shouldn’t be mixed with drinking. She downed a whole bottle at dinner and went back to her cabin. She was in the shower when she met her dire fate—she passed out and cracked her head open.

Her body clogged the drain and the flooding water leaked into the hall. When we got inside, all we could do was an emergency stop and offload her. As a deckhand, I was traumatized knowing there was a body in front of me with only a foot of air and a bag separating us. The passengers only knew that there’d been an emergency.

Bridget Jones's Diary FactsWikimedia Commons

29. Lady In Red

There was a family that went on a cruise every other year. The daughter was a big flirt when she drank. One time, she was grinding on some guy, and I noticed her tampon fell out. I was the only one who saw, and to save her from embarrassment, grabbed my gigantic broom that we usually only used for cleaning at the end of the night.

I did a quick sneaky sweep where they were dancing then safely disposed of the tampon and went on with my life. Initially, I felt good about my act of kindness...until I discovered what she was actually up to that night. Later at the bar, I could see over her shoulder that she was texting “hubby” about how she was getting ready to sleep. That made me feel bad because I went out of my way to help a cheater avoid embarrassment.

Dodged A BulletShutterstock

30. Work Overload

I worked on a cruise ship in Hawaii that was cursed from the start. We brought it to drydock for a makeover a year ahead of schedule because another ship that was to come out that year sank at the dock. Construction was rushed, so mistakes happened. Hiring practices did not take into consideration any cultural differences.

There was a huge conflict between the company's hotel "officers" and the hotel staff. Upon arriving in Hawaii from San Francisco, most of the crew quit, which left the ship extremely undermanned. The company, in its infinite wisdom, decided to take the financial hit and continue with planned trips without replacing them.

They would soon live to regret that decision. They failed to realize that the same jobs still had to be done whether or not there was enough crew. So, we did the best we could, but three hundred people doing the work of a thousand just didn't work. That meant there were more fires, accidents, and injuries. Still, we worked hard to try and make the best of a bad situation.

There was always some sort of major emergency on every cruise that needed to be kept quiet, which was sometimes easier said than done. One time, we had a helicopter come after a dive boat ran over two people who had been snorkeling. One lost a leg and the other an arm. We got them out and treated them before they were evacuated.

That’s all the passengers knew about it. They never saw or found out about the inner stairwells, elevators, and crew covered with blood. We saved both their lives that day.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsPxHere

31. Weather Beaten

I worked on a ship that left Nassau early to try and beat a storm back to port. We didn't beat it. We got caught in huge 30- to 50-foot swells. Dishes broke and water managed to leak onto a deck. Other than that, nothing set off the alarms. Then the next day, we went for breakfast and noticed it was unbearably hot.

For some reason, the AC wasn't operating in crew areas. After a few weeks, we learned the shocking truth—during the storm, water from the pool leaked down the elevator shaft and caused a fire in the AC room. It was contained, but no one raised any alarms. I guess they didn't want to scare the passengers, but it freaked us out.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsShutterstock

32. Pipe Down

I had a cabin with a balcony, which was a luxury for the price I paid. But any time I was out, I choked on the plumes from the tenants next door. They'd regularly enjoy a smoke on their balcony, which was actually against ship rules. This was just one of their inconsiderate habits, so I wasn’t surprised. Then, at one stop, two of the four guests from that cabin left the ship.

There was no explanation, but the guests who remained were much more subdued. Before the next port, word spread about their situation and it made my jaw drop—apparently, one of the guests who left had been pregnant. She seemed to have miscarried in the toilet before leaving to party. Unfortunately, room service had to make the discovery when they were off the ship.

Being outside US jurisdiction, she was immediately taken in upon her return to the ship for questioning, then left on the island.

Unforgettable Comments FactsShutterstock

33. In Still Waters

I was on a ship that stopped in Haiti. The cruise company owned a little resort that was isolated from the rest of the island. When we docked, the captain told us over the intercom system that there were unexpected difficulties with docking and that we were going to be stuck on the ship for a while as they dealt with it.

Word had spread that some locals were protesting the cruise company for ripping off the local government. But that was merely a rumor—the truth was much darker than that. Apparently, there was a prison break, and 174 inmates escaped. Nobody on the ship knew what happened for hours raising the already unsettling mood onboard.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsFlickr

34. Sick Of The Seven Seas

I worked on cruises for three years and I've heard the most insane stories that usually involved the crew. One time, there was some sports guy who stalked his ex-girlfriend onboard. At some point, he learned that he was going to be fired and taken off the ship. Instead of turning himself in, he hid in a lifeboat for days.

The crew was to follow a specific safety drill and they could not leave the ship until resolving the incident. The plan was to not let the passengers know about the situation while the crew looked for him. When they finally found him, they asked him how he managed to survive in that lifeboat for as long as he did. His strategy was actually genius—he cunningly worked his way through the lifeboat supplies, so he never really had to leave his hiding spot for anything.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsPixabay

35. Worst Possible Experience

Maritime law makes it easy to get away with a lot. Gangs and terrible people often get on cruises to do horrible things and as a result, people lose their lives mysteriously. Fortunately, didn't end up as one of them. One time, a group of men held me up while they attacked my partner. Security found us later. They walked me to medical with blood gushing from my head and onto my shirt.

A woman and her child had passed us and were concerned. They asked us what happened, and the security's response made my blood run cold.  They said that it was “just a nosebleed". Later, after we both reported the incident claiming foul play, they denied that the event ever happened. This happened on a major cruise line, and security threatened to sue us for defamation when we demanded a proper investigation.

I later learned that the protocol for those situations is to call the coast guard. At the next stop, my partner and I got flights home and couldn’t sleep for a week from all the trauma we experienced.

Married People factsShutterstock

36. That’s Fogged Up

One of the kitchen staff was drinking heavily one night. The next morning, the first mate kept paging for him but he wasn’t at his post. That afternoon, the captain announced what had happened, and the truth was shocking—he had hurled himself off the boat. The ship immediately turned around so that they could search for him.

At that point, three nearby merchant ships joined the search, and just about everyone was by the railings with binoculars to look for the poor guy. Not to mention that there was so much fog that anything beyond a hundred yards wasn’t visible. Even a wedding stopped onboard—the whole party also went to look overboard for the poor man.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t found. The ship set up a multi-currency donation box at the concierge desk to fund the man’s family trip to get back home. By then, there were only four days left on the trip, and every day the donation box was overstuffed with cash.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsUnsplash

37. Out Of The Way

I worked on a small cruise ship that catered to old rich people. The ship was a few hundred feet long and carried about 100 passengers. I was operating the helm in extreme fog when we noticed what looked like another ship on an intercept course on the radar. We tried using the radio, blasting fog horns, and changing course, but it wouldn't react to our calls.

Well, at some point, an old rusty fishing boat of reasonable size came out of the fog, and by then, it was too late to do anything. At that moment, all we could do was close our eyes and brace for the worst. Thankfully, It missed plowing into us by just a few feet. It could have been a fatal accident had there been a crash. No one found out what was wrong with the other ship.

We guessed that maybe the crew was asleep with the boat on autopilot mistaking our radar signal for a buoy. That, or it was crewed by maniacs who didn’t care about living.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsPiqsels

38. Impossible Reality

I worked as a photographer for some of the major cruise lines. There were a lot of long days, but it was quite fun. After over ten hours of work, the best way to get relief was to go to the crew mess to grab a cheap drink. One time, the guests were having a special celebration and we partied all night with them. Most of the crew was acting completely off their rockers.

Just after 4 am, as the party was slowing down, I started chatting with one of the engineers. The guy was smashed, almost ten drinks in, but I asked him to talk more about his work. He said that he was in charge of the engines and that out of the ship’s six, only three were functional. I was concerned to hear that and pressed him for more details.

He said that it was fine as long as another engine didn’t shut down, and he assured me that that wouldn't happen. But then, an officer came to get the engineer; out of breath and clearly in a panic. The news he revealed to us sent chills up my spine. Apparently, another engine did break down and they had to fix it in the next few hours or else the boat wouldn’t be able to set sail in the morning.

I didn’t see him again, but it worked out.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsFlickr, Daryl DeHart

39. Immersive Experience

It was my wife's grandparents' 50th anniversary, and our extended family of 40 got on a cruise to celebrate. On our last night, we decided to dress up for a family dinner at the ship's fancy restaurant that had huge windows showing the view. Soon after getting our meals, we looked out the windows and our hearts dropped—the boat was flipping over to one side and then the other.

Only the ocean was visible through the window. There was no sky. We found out later that the captain was getting a massage when the navigation system broke down. The ship ended up crashing straight into the coral reef. We were stuck there for a day or so before being tugged back to the last port to make sure there was no damage.

We stayed an extra day there, but the dock could only fit two ships. One of the ships scheduled to arrive that day had to stop offshore and unload passengers who wanted to visit the island. The other stopped just before the dock just in case our ship took on water. Somehow, we made it back on schedule.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsPxfuel

40. Maintaining Suspicion

Our engineers discovered a small hole while in port and had a team of divers fix it. Problem solved, right? Except it wasn’t. The divers found two more holes and that meant we had to depart the next day to make time for the repairs. The passengers weren’t aware of what was happening. Then, an elderly man had a fatal heart attack.

Everyone on the boat was convinced that foul play was involved and that the divers were searching for evidence. The cruise director tried to explain the real situation, but no one was having it. For the rest of the trip, passengers were convinced that the crew was involved in a cover-up. It helped get us more tips though!

Deep Sea DivesShutterstock

41. Drinks Ahoy!

A European cruise line had just started doing cruises in North America, and we were on their first American trip. It was a themed cruise full of '80s heavy metal bands, so the ship was full of American power drinkers. Three days in, and they drank the ship dry. A mild panic spread amongst the passengers. Fortunately, we were stopping in Jamaica that day and we were able to replenish.

People also brought back plenty for their own entertainment in case it happened again.

Alcohol beveragesPixabay

42. Icy Tactic

It was day one of a Christmas cruise when a passenger unfortunately passed. His body was kept in the freezer and was to be removed at the port the next day, but because of the bad weather, that port was canceled. The staff would have to wait for two more days before they could offload the body. On day five of the cruise, the ship was finally able to get to a tender port.

There was no discreet way to bring down the body onto the rocky tender across to shore, so, both doors were opened with one side for the guests and the other for the body transport. At one point, one of the passengers trying to board freaked out after seeing how rocky it was. She became insufferable and made a shocking demand—she said wanted to board on the side with the body.

Ignoring everyone, she shoved her way on and rode to shore with the man’s body. I felt that the whole process was undignified and intruded. The cruise decorated the boat with white flowers for the rest of the trip as a sign of respect for the man.

Bettie Page FactsShutterstock

43. Professionals Only

I worked for a fancy restaurant in a tourist town that catered to cruise lines. Our desserts were delivered frozen from a company named "Gourmet Chefs". The menu description says that gourmet chefs prepare all of our desserts, which technically isn’t a lie. In reality, some teenager just reheats it before serving it.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsPixabay

44. You'll Get What’s Coming To You

My father worked on cruise ships for several years during the '70s. During one cruise, he served the main dining room, supervising the food and drink servers on the ship. There was a bartender from Pakistan there who did not get along with these two waiters from South Korea. He totally antagonized them both and he wouldn't quit even when they ignored him.

He called them horrible names and even refused to acknowledge them when they tried to fill their drink orders. On the night of the Captain's Dinner, all of the guests were dressed up for the fancy evening. My father was doing his rounds, making sure that everything and everyone was in order. That's when he noticed that the bartender and the two waiters weren’t there.

He searched and searched but had no luck locating them. Finally, he heard a scuffle inside a locked men's room. He knocked, but no one answered. He knocked again, asking the people inside to open the door. Eventually, one of the South Korean waiters opened it. My father saw the sweat on the waiter's brow and before he said anything, he looked past the waiter through the crack in the door.

He immediately froze with fear. The Pakistani bartender was tied to a chair with a bloody face. Turns out, the waiters were ex-South Korean special forces and they had had enough of the bartender. The bartender was taken off the ship at the next port.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsShutterstock

45. Sea, Sea, No Touch

I used to sell tickets for a whale-watching cruise company. One day, my boss told me he needed me on the boat to replace the guide who couldn't be there that day. I agreed because it was not every day that something exciting happened to me at work. I boarded the boat and off we went to see some whales and seals. One woman was obviously quite excited about seeing a beluga and insisted that the captain move closer and closer.

She kept pressuring him to do it, even though there are laws that require boats to stay a safe distance away from the wild animals in their natural habitat. She was incessant and was ruining the experience for everyone else on the boat. Belugas are naturally curious and friendly, so some approached the boat. When that happens, the boat isn’t supposed to move until the whales are a safe distance away to avoid hurting any.

The bothersome woman became even more excited and she wanted to touch the belugas. So she reached her arm out to try. I told her not to do that but she just ignored me. I turned my back for a couple of seconds to tell the captain and when I turned back, my eyes widened. She had fallen into the water. Did I mention that the water temperature was below freezing?

She was screaming the entire time while we worked to get her back on the boat. The other passengers looked on in a quiet shock while we gave her a blanket to warm her up. We were close enough to the shore to get an ambulance for the dumb lady.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsWikimedia Commons

46. Floody Idea

It was lunchtime after the safety drills. Everyone went out on the pool and cafeteria decks to enjoy their meals. In between the two decks, there was a washroom where one guest had an accident in his pants. In his panic, he tried flushing his pants down the toilet, but it overflowed. It leaked out of the bathroom and onto the decks. After that, everyone else had to walk around in his poo water, and it smelled terrible.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsUnsplash

47. Always A Way To Have Fun

In Finland, the students usually celebrate the end of high school by going on a day cruise to Sweden or Estonia. Our school was late to reserve tickets for the special student cruise, so we boarded the normal cruise with three other schools. There were all kinds of passengers including families and older people. I felt bad for them because I knew they were in for sleepless nights.

The first night was quiet since the boat was following Swedish law and we weren’t of age to drink. But some people brought their own stash onto the boat, so we were able to get our party on anyway. The next day, everyone was hungover while sightseeing in Stockholm. The boat was ready to leave, and everyone was storming to the shops to buy more drinks since the boat was going to follow Finnish laws.

The staff noticed and started checking IDs. They'd mark tickets so that those who were underage couldn’t buy more...but that didn't stop us. That night, everyone was getting wasted in their cabins and out into the hallway. The staff kept telling us to keep it down and to keep our cabin doors closed, but they couldn't contain us. At one point, a toga party started and it got even rowdier. Some guy in a makeshift toga knocked on every cabin door inviting them to join the toga party.

Then, a conga line happened, and piggyback fights started breaking out. It was chaos. The hallways were trashed, and everyone was tipsy out of their minds. The staff had no choice but to just let things run their course. The next morning, everyone was walking around like zombies.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsShutterstock

48. Rotten Deal

I live with cooks who used to work for a well-known cruise. They had to deal with storage problems as their refrigerators were on land. Perishable food was brought on board had to be stored on shelves or in milk crates. Inevitably, those boxes ended up on the ground, creating the ship’s own ecosystem of mice, insects, and other pests. There was a special situation for ship kitchen inspections in that region, so they usually had advanced warnings if health inspectors were coming.

I will never order food on a boat.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsPxHere

49. Pretty Cheat-y

A few cabins down from me, a man and woman were cheating on their spouses with one another. They drank too much and fell over the edge of their balcony. Their room was really high up, and this happened at night too. The cruise ship stopped once it was reported, and we spent an entire day searching for them. When finally found them, we couldn't believe what we saw.

The man had his pants and inflated them somehow, and they held on to them to keep afloat. They reported that they were stung by multiple jellyfish in the freezing water. That must have been the scariest most terrible eighteen hours of their lives.

Cruise Ship Horror Stories FactsShutterstock

Sources: Reddit,


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