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Cruise Ship Staff Share The Most Disturbing Insider Secrets All Passengers Should Know


Whether we’ve been on such a trip before or not, many of us enjoy ruminating on the fun that could be had on a comforting cruise.

But after hearing from some Redditors with cruise ship experience, the voyage may not be as merry and happy-go-lucky as we might have thought.

Redditor maudiestirling asked:

“Cruise ship staff of Reddit (cleaners in particular), what are some disturbing secrets passengers should know?”

Some came ready to deliver.

“A lot of people die. Depending on the line, it’s not unusual for a couple a week.”

“Depending on the age of the ship, there are decent odds someone died in that room.”

“Also, if you receive an upgrade mid-cruise, there’s a reason why a room is suddenly available.” – Watertightdoors

“That if you die onboard at sea from something other than natural causes (heart attack, old age), your death will probably not be investigated properly.”

“Ships need to get back to port on time to load up the next set of passengers. Which means details are swept under the rug.” – cruisefromottawa

“Especially if you’re on a flag of convenience ship far from that country’s territory. Panama, Liberia, or Malta aren’t going to send someone across the world for one homicide.”

“If the death happens in international waters, the country of the ship’s registry is what law applies and who has the right to prosecute.”

“Only Malta might even try and that’s assuming you were near an EU port where they might be bound to investigate as part of being a member.” – SouffleStevens

“I was touring a ship for a future event. The ship was about to leave for a 100+ day cruise.”

“I saw a lot of old people getting on with oxygen tanks. I asked him what happens if they die on board.”

“He said it was very common for old people blow their life savings to come to spend their last days on this cruise. He also said they have a fully functional morgue.” – Crusha79

“I’ve been working on ships for almost a decade now, engineering department. When the Eb*la scare of 2014 went down, I was crewing a passenger ferry.”

“During a safety meeting, someone asked what would happen if we got a passenger showing symptoms.”

“We were told the ship would be quarantined until the disease had run its course. Imagine just sitting in the bay on an Eb*la ridden ship.” – i_hate_msds

Others said disappearances are common, as well.

“There have been a few relatively high-profile cases where someone has disappeared from a cruise ship, there are plenty of places to hide.”

“Rebecca Coriam and Amy Lynn Bradley are two of the most well-known ones.” – Chalantcop

“On my last cruise, my wife and I were woken up at 3:30AM by the Captain over the loudspeakers throughout the entire ship. He announced that a 15-year-old girl was missing, requested anyone with any info call a specific number.”

“It was really unsettling to be woken up like that and given that information. My wife and I started talking about it and I remember saying, ’15-year-old girl on a cruise in the Caribbean unsupervised, all this booze flying around? She’s been raped, murdered, stuffed into a suitcase, and thrown overboard.'”

“My wife just stared at me disgusted and asked, ‘What the f**k is wrong with you that you would think that?’ Law and Order SVU, my dear, that’s what.”

“About 15 minutes later the Captain came back to announce they found her safe and sound. She was in the library and fell asleep (SURE she was.) Still, it was unsettling and left an impression on me.” – dinosaur_copilot

Some stressed the importance of traveler’s insurance.

“Getting airlifted off a ship in a medical emergency costs a fortune, and your insurance will likely not cover it. It’s the best reason for purchasing travel insurance.” – Scrappy_Larue

“Travel insurance is also cheap. I think it was $20 for a week for me and my wife the last time we traveled. Included like $1 million in airlifting coverage on top of other stuff.” – RedTib

Some talked about work conditions and expectations.

“I was a musician on cruise ships for a year. As mentioned before, you’re not going to get cleaners on here because their work schedule is a disturbing secret. Anyone that works below deck and not always in view of passengers usually works 70-80 hour weeks while sharing a cabin the size of a closet with 4 people.”

“Also, crew members from India aren’t allowed to get off the ship in the US during their first contract (maybe two, can’t remember) because too many Indian cruise ship workers would get off the ship and never come back.” – whiteglassfan

“Are the stewards trained to read minds? Or are they just amazing at their jobs? Do they have monitors watching the doors to see when you leave so they can clean?”

“I was taken along on a ladies cruise by a cruise-crazy family member (husband’s aunt), and I’d never been on a cruise before. We stayed in the Concierge level (because the one who was paying was posh).”

“My room steward was a Filipino man and he absolutely made my stay amazing. I asked about an extra pillow one day to use as a body pillow, and he took pillows and sheets and made me this big Tootsie roll thing for a body pillow. Every day it was rerolled with a clean sheet.”

“I loved the toiletries and used up an entire bottle of lotion every day on my sunburnt body, so each day I began finding 3 bottles of lotion with the clean towels.”

I ordered an iced tea with 2 lemons in 2my room after dinner 2 nights in a row and for the remaining nights of the trip, when I came back to my cabin after dinner there was a cold iced tea, 2 lemons each time.”

“I swear, the second I left the room for meals it got cleaned or turned down or fancied up.”

“I was a poor slob who spent a week feeling like a queen because of that guy.”

“I asked my posh host about tipping etiquette at the end and she gave me an envelope for him. It had $400 in it. I added another $100 from my spending money.”

“He made the trip for me. Thank you, Filipino steward dude on my Celebrity cruise in April 2013, you rock.” – chickenpants80

There were also some gambling tricks. 

“Not sure if it’s true or not, but a casino staff member told us that the poker machine payouts are set higher in the first two days to make you win, and thus make you want to play more.”

“Then as the ship enters international waters, they don’t need to have the same regulated payout percentages and it gets lowered to like 50 percent, so you have a very very slim chance at winning anything after the first few days.” – smallpotatoes_

“This is why gambling on poker machines is so utterly stupid – they can be programmed to deliver payouts whenever the owners want.”

“It’s not like gambling on roulette, or a card game: those are based on physical objects which can’t be manipulated like a computer program can.”

“H**l, you could program a poker machine to never pay out, but you can’t stop a roulette ball from falling in slots with a particular probability.” – humanoid12345

It may be fun to go on a cruise, but this particular group of Redditors was ready to remind us the trip may not be as great as it appears to be.

Even if we don’t see something worrisome on our trip doesn’t mean there was nothing to worry about.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit