Cruise ship workers are responsible for keeping their guests safe and happy, but sometimes even the most experienced crew members can find themselves in an “oh no” moment. We asked cruise ship workers to share their most memorable experiences of hiding things from passengers in order to avoid panic, outrage, or just plain embarrassment. From minor mishaps to major crises, here are some of the most shocking “oh no” moments that cruise ship workers have tried to keep hidden from their guests.
All content has been edited for clarity.
I’m Sure They Sobered Up Quickly
“One time I was on a cruise, and a few cabins down a man and woman who were cheating on their wife and husband, respectively, got super drunk and fell over the edge of their balcony. From really high up. It was at night too.
The whole cruise ship stopped once it was reported and it took like an entire day to search for them. Apparently, the man had his jeans or something because he had inflated them somehow and they were floating holding them.
They reported that they were stung by multiple jellyfish and were super cold the whole time. That must have been the scariest most terrible eighteen hours of their lives.”
This Band Sounds Like A Blast
“I played in the show band for a ship once. We were in Belize and supposed to be back on the boat by 6 PM sharp, as we were leaving port at 6:30. Most of the band is stumbling drunk back to the dock at about 5:30 when [Music Director] gets a call.
[As he’s listening, his face drops, turns white, and then begins to boil red]
MD: ‘What the ever-loving f*ck?? Don’t say a god d*mned word. I’m on my way!’
Before any of us can ask what happened, MD takes off in a full sprint out of the docking area.
The band mostly tended to hang out together, but on this particular day [Keyboard Player] wasn’t with us. KP was a notorious partier, and often a pretty sloppy drunk and reckless. Not knowing how else to help, the rest of us boarded, went through security, and informed the security guys that MD just took off and neither he nor KP had made it back yet.
We headed down to the crew bar for more drinks, and to wait out MD and KP. 6 o’clock came. Then 6:30. Then 6:40, and the ship hadn’t moved yet. This was pretty strange, seeing as the crew waits for no one. If you’re not boarded by 6, you’re staying on your own. Finally, the ship starts to depart at 6:45. and we catch MD rolling into the crew bar.
It turns out, KP tried to buy coke from an undercover cop in Belize. Yeah. So MD went to the station, bailed his a*s out, and they just walked. Again, I’m completely fuzzy on the details, but I do know that security, hotel operations, and the passengers never found out exactly why they were late, and KP stayed on the ship every time we made port in Belize from then on. Oh, and he also paid for all of our drinks for a month. The band operated on a beer-fine system after all.”
No One Heard Gunshots?
“Somebody shot at the navigation bridge of the ship from the shore on my last ship, the bullet bounced off and hit my colleague on the hand (no real damage but it scares the hell out of her, ended up going home for a few weeks).
While we waited for the local police to come on and investigate and take statements, guests were told we were delaying the departure to take on fresh water. I’m still shocked that never leaked out.”
Just Admit You Wanted To Go Swimming
“Our ship officers got a call from a ship of a completely different cruise line, off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico. They found one of our passengers floating in the ocean. He wasn’t even near the shore at all, just floating in open water. He was alive and perfectly fine.
They reviewed the security footage, and in the middle of the night, this guy was drunk on Deck 5, & could be seen holding his phone and dancing to music by himself. He then climbed onto one of the lifeboats, & did a running jump into the ocean. He left his phone on top of the lifeboat. His body was so fluid from being drunk that he wasn’t injured when he hit the water. The other cruise ship spotted him and rescued him. His family didn’t know he was missing because he had booked a separate room.
This guy told the news that a rogue wave pushed him off the side of the ship. He was on Deck 5, so the wave would have been over 40 feet tall.
Don’t know what happened after that. The entire crew was talking about it for weeks before it hit the news, though.
I Know It Smelled Crazy In There
“A water pipe burst in a store room and soaked ALL of the spare toilet paper. This was on day 2 of a 14-day voyage to Antarctica. The cabin stewards had to swap around rolls of paper between ‘low-use’ and ‘high-use’ guest cabins and it came right down the wire. None of the guests found out or realized. Now toilet paper is hidden in every cabin instead of in a centralized location.”
Of All The Things To Argue About Jurisdiction Over
“Ship just arrived in Whittier, Alaska (the port for Anchorage) and an elderly passenger dropped dead while walking down the gangway. A conflict ensues between the port security and the ship’s medical team. The port security didn’t want the ship’s medical team to get involved because it technically happened off the ship and the local authorities had jurisdiction. There really was no saving the guy but the ship’s medical team at least wanted to try but the local authorities wouldn’t even allow the chief medical officer to start CPR.
The coroner had a ~6-hour ETA so the port authorities bagged up the body and stuffed it in an x-ray machine storage container in port (guarded by local police) until the coroner could arrive to take the body to Anchorage. The wife of the deceased continued on to finish the vacation for the 7-day rail trip to Denali (it was a 14-day gimmick… 7 days at sea, 7-day scenic rail trip). My understanding was the cruise line comped her entire vacation, arranged for the remains to be returned home at no cost to her, and provided a personal assistant for the remainder of her vacation.”
Why Would The Captain Share That Information
“I used to be a crew member, and one time a guy working at the front desk jumped overboard after a crew party. He was found a few hours later by the coast guard, and everybody was asked to be discrete in order to keep the cruise running smooth, and everything was fine until the captain came on the PA and said we were delayed because a crew member jumped overboard. Then the madness begins, rumors appear out of nowhere, and the rest of the cruise was pretty much guests asking what happened the whole time.
A lot of sh*t happens onboard, I could write a book, maybe even more than one.
Another time a guy committed suicide in his cabin, and his family was onboard, including a little girl, but this time it didn’t leak to the guests. I saw the family as they were being walked to the security office, and felt so bad for them
A friend of mine got fired for getting wasted, got p*ssed, and started peeing all over his cabin while the security guys were there to take care of him. He spent the night in the little jail onboard before being dumped the next day in whatever port we were
Also, every time we had ice cream at the crew restaurant, people would say it was because they had to empty the freezer to put a dead body.”
The Show Goes On
“I was hired for a ship on 2-day notice (trombone player). When I got on the ship I found out that I was replacing a guy who had just died in a jet skiing accident in Nicaragua. Everyone in the crew knew it (and the last cruise’s passenger knew it) and the entire band that I was joining was obviously traumatized. In the end, it ended up being my favorite contract, but the first few weeks were difficult for everyone. RIP bone guy, I never knew you, but I know they all loved you.”
Problem-Solving On The Fly
“One story that comes to mind with passengers (travel agents and family) was the first sailing out of the yard. The ship can hold about 4,500 passengers, she’s a big girl and has 5 or 6 massive engines to power it. About 3 hours into the sail away I heard a loud thump and massive vibrations all around, I was in an empty restaurant and saw plates and cups crashing to the ground from the vibrations.
My first thought is to always see how the crew reacts, if they are calm, you can stay calm and if they freak out, you better start moving. I could see some concern but they continued on with their business, so I followed their lead and continued doing my work too. About 3-4 hours after that another loud thump and even more vibrations then silence.
After speaking with a few crew members, I found out we lost 2 engines on the initial incident, and now we just lost the rest. Whatever the reason was, we lost complete propulsion and this beast of a ship was going to go wherever the ocean wanted it to. Passengers were notified that we will be running late but to continue having fun and drinks were on the house, no other info was given (smart to avoid panic). About 12 hours later a helicopter was on the scene (early AM hours) above us dropping down crates of engine parts, and a short time after that, we had propulsion again and passengers had no idea why we were delayed and didn’t seem to care.”