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13 Craziest Things Cruise Workers Have Seen on the Job

Hundreds of vacation revelers from all walks of life living side-by-side on a floating hotel... what could possibly go wrong? Cruise ship workers reveal some of the nuttiest things they've seen while sailing the high seas.

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sailing, age, travel, holidays and people concept - close up of happy senior couple drinking champagne on sail boat or yacht deck floating in seaSyda Productions/Shutterstock

Here’s proof age is nothing but a number

“I have to say, the ‘craziest’ things I’ve seen were when elderly travelers completely defied what it means to be ‘old,” Marc Cappelletti, who has worked as both a small cruise ship director and an expedition developer, told Reader’s Digest. “I’ve also gone step for step with a 90-year-old woman on a hike in the Galapagos, held the limbo stick for an octogenarian who raised his arms like Rocky Balboa in celebration after passing beneath, and kayaked in Alaska with a grandmother of 10 who’d broken her hip a year earlier and rehabbed just so she could travel with them. When we finished, she said, ‘Now my rehab is complete!'”

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Police coroner examining dead body corpse in morgueElnur/Shutterstock

It’s not all fun and games

Apparently, not everyone makes it back to shore the same way they left. “We definitely had a morgue on board,” a cruise employee revealed in an interview with Mental Floss. “Because the line was for older demographics, we had people die on the ship pretty regularly.” Read more about some other things most cruise lines won’t tell you.

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Man sits on a bed in the night at

Sometimes you’ve gotta go where you wanna go

“One elderly gentleman with bad hygiene sneaked out at night in order to urinate on the carpet in the corridor,” recalls a former cruise ship worker in response to a thread on Quora. “We were wondering about that; he must have been mentally ill somehow, no other way to possibly explain it.”

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close up of woman with pretty nails holding fried spicy chicken sandwichJoshua Resnick/Shutterstock

Well, this would have been a sight to see

“The craziest thing I ever saw while working on a cruise ship was a passenger putting sandwiches in her bra to try to sneak them off the ship at a port (since there is a restriction that you can’t take cruise ship food into the port),” says Kerrie Mendoza, who spent two years sailing the Mediterranean, Alaska, and the Caribbean and now blogs at “She got stopped but just the thought of it was pretty gross!”

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young gay couple having funMichaelpuche/Shutterstock

Now this is a heart-warming surprise

Not every “crazy” story has to be negative. Mendoza fondly remembers something out of the ordinary on a few cruises. “Many crew members came from countries where it was illegal to be LBGTQ, but on the ship ,they could be their true selves,” she recalls. “It was really amazing to see.” Consider these booking secrets when securing your next cruise.

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Female client requesting service at a hotel ringing the service bell on the counter of the front desk at receptionstockfour/Shutterstock

One baggage mixup led to dress distress

On a Quora thread about disastrous passenger stories, one cruise ship worker remembered the time on a Christmas cruise when one young woman discovered her suitcase had not made it aboard the ship after a mixup with her brother’s luggage. “The young lady came to the purser’s desk screaming and shouting that we had ruined her Christmas, as her formal evening dress, prepared for the coming Christmas, was not in her suitcase,” he wrote. “A girl in her twenties literally rolling on the floor in front of the purser’s desk, screaming her lungs out, crying and cursing and swearing and demanding the captain turn the boat around and get her bag or…else.”

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Breakfast on a cruise ship balcony.NAPA/Shutterstock

The crew food is a mystery to a ship’s staff

While passengers may enjoy fine dining aboard the ship, there’s an entirely different situation going on below deck. In fact, according to Reddit user Elbrad, it may be the craziest thing he’s seen on a cruise. “It’s like someone saw a picture of a buffet, and said ‘I can make that!’ but only had access to dumpster leavings. Many a night I’d wander to the staff mess and ask someone along the way what was for dinner. Often the reply was ‘Toast and cereal.'”

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Sea sick woman suffering motion sickness while on boat. Suffering girl traveling on water and feeling fearful and unwellNicoleta Ionescu/Shutterstock

Some people sail themselves sick

There’s a reason there are often hand sanitizer dispensers at every turn on a ship. With so many people living in such close quarters for days, it’s easy for something contagious to make its away around the boat. “Disease spreads incredibly fast,” said Reddit user Coltranetimeman. “There were a couple episodes of a stomach flu taking over the ship. It was so bad I thought we were going to have to get the CDC to disinfect the ship.”

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Friends preventing fighting of two angry guys in the bar.Dusan Petkovic/Shutterstock

Bad time for a brawl

Early in 2018 cruise ship workers on one particular ship were witnesses to something rarely seen while floating at sea—a violent and very ugly brawl. Twenty-three people were removed from the Carnival Legend, in what was referred to by cruise line officials as an “unprecedented incident.” What started the ruckus? Allegedly a number of disruptive acts by one group in particular. We’re happy to hear this isn’t a regular occurrence on the water.

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Diving in to the poolMicrogen/Shutterstock

Don’t try this on a ship (or anywhere for that matter)

This must have been a heart-pounding moment for cruise ship workers: According to the Daily Mail, United States high diver Cesilie Carlton defied the odds when she nailed a 55-foot dive into the deepest pool on a Harmony of the Seas cruise ship. The epic display of athleticism was designed for a stunt, but it’s not without risk. Fellow cast member Sydney Brown said, “We have the deepest pool at sea, and if the ship is moving from side to side, the water in the pool can spill out.” Fortunately, that wasn’t the case in this particular instance. Here’s how to stress less on your next vacation.

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A closeup of throwing dice on a gambling tableESB Professional/Shutterstock

All bets are off

In an interiew with Thrillist, a cruise ship worker who would only be identified as “Blake” recalled a time as a dealer in an on-cruise casino in which a high-roller was less than kind to a fellow passenger. “I had one New York seafood magnate who loved to play dice. One night a woman accidentally knocked his dice after he threw them, and he lost a few hundred bucks. He nudged me and said, ‘Watch, I’m gonna make her cry,’ and proceeded to rip into her with a loud, obscenity-laced tirade until she actually started sobbing. He did tip me, though. ”

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Saint valentine's day, white large bed with the rose petals, red rose petals on the big bedOllyPlu/Shutterstock

Someone didn’t anticipate this passenger’s needs

People pay a lot of money to take a cruise, setting their expectations high. But one cruise worker, who shared his story with Cruise Bulletin, recalls a passenger with a particularly absurd complaint. “A husband on a two-week honeymoon cruise complained that the staff did not decorate the cabin in white, did not scatter rose petals everywhere each morning, and did not deliver champagne and strawberries via a private butler. The man requested no such special service; he just expected cruise staff to ‘know.'”

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A person packing for a

Some folks just don’t plan ahead

It’s not the staff’s fault if you didn’t pack the right clothes for your destination, but that didn’t stop one man from complaining. “A man on a cruise around Alaska requested compensation for the warmer clothes he had to buy after failing to get ‘an impressive tan’ and being unable to ‘swim in the swimming pool each day,'” remembers a former employee on Cruise Bulletin. As long as you pack appropriately for the climate, this is the best cruise for every month of the year.