Cruise Ship Staff Reveals 20 Dirty Secrets That Everyone Deserves To Know

By molly atherton 4 months ago
Ahoy there, adventure seekers and curious minds! Prepare to set sail on the high seas of scandal and intrigue as we unveil the clandestine world of cruise ship secrets. Buckle up (or maybe it's buckle on?) as we navigate through the murky waters of hidden truths and behind-the-scenes revelations straight from the mouths of those who roam the decks, clean the cabins, and keep the buffets afloat. Brace yourself for a journey beyond the glitz and glamour of luxury liners...

1. There's a morgue onboard

It's probably not the vision you had in your mind for the dream vacation, a luxury cruise. When we think of a cruise we think of the most high-end experience. But often, the realities of things aren't the same. According to cruise ship staff if you go deep below deck...
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... there will be a morgue in case anybody on board dies whilst they are at sea. Sadly, it happens and it's not uncommon either. It's usually due to natural courses but can be caused by any kind of illness or unknown factors. The demographic of cruises also makes it a little bit more common.+Original content sourced from

2. They cause massive pollution

Cruises have come under fire in recent years for churning out massive amounts of pollution. In a day where it is so crucial to be environmentally friendly, many people don't agree with cruises and think their lack of sustainability means that they should no longer be in operation.
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Cruise staff reveals that there is a huge amount of pollution from cruises on a daily basis. Some have managed to overcome this and actually use liquified natural gases to motor the ship, rather than fuel which of course is a much more sustainable option.

3. Food poisoning is rife

A cruise ship feeds more people than any other environment, it feeds thousands and thousands of people a day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all the many snacks in between. That's a LOT of food that is required onboard. And at sea, all the food has to be stored for (often) the entirety of the trip.
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And as a result of this, sometimes the food isn't the freshest. Also, when one kind of food is bad or causes poisoning, it won't just be one person who suffers, it will be hundreds of people all struck down with food poisoning. Does this happen often? Staff reveals that YES, it does.

4. 'Booze passes' can cause problems

When you've paid for your cruise, you can then eat and drink and attend shows all-inclusive style. But alcohol is one of those things that isn't included. But, on some cruises, there is what you call a 'booze pass' which you pay a certain amount for...
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... and then you can drink all the alcohol you wish to for no extra cost. But, staff have to be super careful in making sure people on board don't get TOO drunk, otherwise, they can disrupt other guests or even get ill - which isn't ideal when you're stuck out at sea.

5. There are jail cells

Okay, most of us never knew that there were actually jail cells on board cruise ships. What lies on the surface is very different from deep below deck. Alongside a morgue, there are jail cells for anybody breaking the rules. laws or causing a lot of trouble.
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The person will be taken to the 'a jail cell' under international maritime law until they can be removed from the ship during the next stop. When you have anywhere up to 7 or 8 thousand people in one space, there's a chance that the cells will be necessary.

6. People get carried away having too much fun, in public

So cruise ship staff reveal another dirty secret that happens on cruise ships. They reveal that there are couples/people who get carried away on board and it happens ALL of the public!  Has nobody heard of the saying 'get a room'?
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and this time we're not just talking about PDA, if you get our drift. Unfortunately, this is something that staff have to encounter on a regular basis and of course, they have to break up the couple and discreetly send them on their way, hoping that no other guests have been disturbed.

7. 20 people fall off a cruise ship every year

It's a fairly shocking statistic when you realize that 20 people almost every year fall off a huge cruise ship. This can be for a variety of reasons, some are drunk, some just lose their balance and some are (probably) pushed off the board.
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Most of the people who fall off board are accounted for and managed to be rescued. But, being far out in the middle of the ocean, some people are never ever seen again and cannot be found or accounted for. In fact, between the years of 2009 and 2016, 8 people died falling off cruise ships!

8. 140, 210,000 gallons of sewage are produced each WEEK

That's a HUGE, and disgusting amount of sewage to fathom. But, when there are that many people on board, of course, there's a lot of sewage produced. And when the ship is close to shore there is a kind of sewage system that works in the same way
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as airplanes so that it goes into a sewage filter system. But staff tell us that when a cruise ship is more than 12 miles from shore, the majority of it is dumped directly into the oceans. This means that there is a vast amount of waste going straight into our oceans, damaging them!

9. Contagious diseases spread like wildfire

When someone on deck has a virus or an spreads through the rest of the cruise quicker than almost any environment. There are not many times when around 7 thousand people would be living in very close proximity together, for 24 hours of the day...
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... (okay aside from sleeping). So this is pretty much the worst place for catching things. In fact, norovirus is super common on cruises and once one person has it it's hard to stop everybody else getting it too. Staff reveals that this has happened on countless cruises.

10. Pirates have attacked cruise ships

We are past the era of pirates, but that doesn't mean that they don't still exist. Some oceans are still rife with pirating. And for this reason, cruises are protected against them in the case that the ship is attacked. First off, in the case of a pirate attack...
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... passengers are told to get away from the decks. Then, the water and sound cannons are fired to scare and warn them off. Cruise staff do reassure us that this is not at all common, but it has definitely happened on a few occasions over the years.

11. The bilge water releases sulfur dioxide

Another dirty secret about cruise ships is that they produce what is often referred to as bilge water. While the ship may look impressive on the seas, under the seas the effect is very different, Bilge water is a combination of things such as oil, water, chemicals, sludge, and all kinds of fluids.
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Bilge water from the cruise ship goes into the oceans and it produces sulphur dioxide. Marine life and the levels of the natural ocean are of course damaged by this. And, the ocean is suffering more today than it ever has before. Cruise ships are just a part of the problem!

12. The air quality on board is disgusting

You imagine a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, breathing in fresh, sea air. Well not quite. According to staff, when the air quality was tested it showed just how bad it really was. The air quality on a cruise ship can actually be up to 20 times worse than in a busy car in a city.
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It's due to all of the mechanical operations going on all the time to keep the ship working.  So as well as pumping it out into the air, we're also breathing it in on deck. Fuel, chemicals, and gases are released into the air and much of it stays within the ship. The outside air does not circulate enou0gh through the ship to keep it cleaner.

13. Clogged sewage pipes are common

The sewer and pipe systems on board a cruise, according to the cruise ship staff, are VERY fragile. A lot of things can mess them up and get the system clogged, and quite easily too according to the crew. The pipes are designed for waste and toilet paper.
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But, people put things down the toilet which shouldn't be flushed and which are toot hick for the pipes. And this can cause in clogged pipes which can also mean that the sewage starts to spill outwards, rather than back down the pipes into the sewage tank, agh!

14. It's easy for things to go wrong

The crew who work on cruise ships emphasized just how much the entire ship requires everything to run perfectly smoothly. Otherwise, things go wrong...very easily. And one thing leads to another. For example, one crew member revealed that they were on a cruise ship that had a fire in an engine.
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But it led to everything failing, including plumbing meaning that there were rising sewage levels. And, the food started to go bad as well as the steering system! People on board were stranded for 3 days in the Gulf of Mexico on a cruise ship where everything was malfunctioning because ONE thing had gone wrong.

15. The cruise will leave without you

One of the best things about cruises is the day trip. You can stop at beautiful places and go on an excursion or explore on your own. But when the crew says to be back for a certain time on the really should. The crew has revealed that...
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some people have found out the hard way just how strict this rule actually is. The ship gives some time for stragglers, but when you go over the time too much the ship will leave without you and you have to get home on your own from wherever you are in the world.

16. The pandemic 19 hit cruises hard

Cruise ships were seriously affected by the pandemic.  When the covid 19 pandemic hit, cruise ships were the first that the outbreak of the virus reached outside of China. Once the outbreak had spread from one person on board, soon the majority of the boat had it.
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The cruise ships then had to be quarantined indefinitely and because the route cause and the nature of the virus wasn't yet known. So, the passengers weren't allowed to disembark and it took weeks and weeks before the crew or the passengers were allowed to return home.

17. Seasickness happens every minute

It may be a cruise ship, but it's still a boat at sea and that can only mean one thing: sea sickness. Now you might assume those who suffer from sea sickness may steer clear of cruise ships, however, the assumption usually is that you cannot feel it
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on a cruise because of the sheer size of the boat. But the crew says that sea sickness happens every single day on board. And, vomit is just a daily part of working on a cruise ship. Unfortunately, things can get very messy on board according to crew members.

18. The staff work nonstop

Staff are working nonstop day in and day out. When you see them on board, they'll probably be doing several things at once, rushing around and usually still looking forever professional, friendly, and with a smile on their face. The crew doesn't always feel like that however

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because once crew members claimed that they had to work 18 hours in a row sometimes, working 3 different shifts and roles back to back.  So she went from cleaning to kitchen prep to working behind a bar within one day. So when they say they work non-stop, they truly do mean it.

19. Their accommodation is TINY

If you've ever envisaged working on a cruise ship, you may have even believed that the crew gets similar accommodations as the guests. Oh no. The accommodation is absolutely tiny and usually way below deck. It's so small that it essentially fits a bed only.

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And if the room is bigger it's because some of the crew members have to share their accommodation! So privacy is seriously hard to come by for crew members a lot of the time and they do not have the comfort that is usually associated with the majority of cruise ships.

20. Staff cabins have no windows

Picturing a tiny, tiny room deep below deck without windows actually sounds more like a prison cell than accommodation. Not only are these accommodations very small, but there's no natural light so it can feel very oppressive down there according to cruise ship workers.

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In fact, they use the accommodation to sleep and change but aside from that they prefer to stay out of their accommodation whenever possible. And going up to the deck feels super important to be able to get some natural light and feel normal again after a night spent down below!

21. They get hit on all the time

Crew members discussed how they get it on ALL the time whilst working. This can be especially disconcerting for some staff because they are trying to maintain professionalism whilst strongly rejecting the person. They are also stuck out at sea with their person

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for the foreseeable future so things can get awkward, especially if they take rejection badly! When there are groups of guests or single guests on board, crew members find that it's worse. Usually, during family-based cruises there aren't as many cases (but there are always some!)

22. Passengers yell at staff on  a regular basis

Working in hospitality is hard because crew or staff of any kind face backlash and difficult customers on a daily basis. The crew has stated that they are sometimes treated terribly and that some passengers even yell at them. When they were asked if these kinds of incidents were unusual,

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the cruise ship crew said that they actually happened all of the time. Some passengers were super nice and friendly towards the crew, but many would make their job a lot more difficult just because they were being difficult or unreasonable.

23. They have to remember everybody's name

How could you possibly remember that many people's names? The crew has said that they were expected to remember everybody's name when they were working on luxury cruise ships which felt completely unrealistic. This is to give the ultimate luxury feel.

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as though each passenger is being cared for individually, rather than blending into the masses of crowds on board. But despite creating a much better experience for the passengers, it can be completely overwhelming for the crew who cannot possibly remember every single name!

24. They rely on tips

Another dirty secret about working on cruise ships is that the wages are very low. The money earned is minimal, yet the hours they work are completely maximized so that they are working constantly. Crew members have to work really hard considering

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cruises are so huge and there are so many people on board, all of whom may be wanting different things. But, despite all this, they are not paid well. In fact, the crew often rely on the tips from customers to make up for their low wages. Yet they suffer now from the modern cashless society!

25. People have disappeared without explanation

Crew members on cruise ships have to deal with all kinds of incidents. And, some have reported being on cruise ships where people disappear. You're probably wondering how that could possibly happen on a ship. Yet because the vessel is SO huge, there have been cases where

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people are completely unaccounted for and they have disappeared without explanation, never to be found again. Whether they have gone overboard or somewhere unfound in the depths of the ship it is unclear! But, in some cases, it will never be known...

26. There are cases of onboard crime

Cruise ship crew members have poured out the dirty secrets that happen on board. And what they highlighted was that during every cruise, there are several crimes reported. Usually, it is a few cases of petty theft. But, there have also been cases of far more severe matters.

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When you are living in such close proximity with so many people, it is unlikely that any cruise will ever be crime free. So crew warm guests not to be too blasé when it comes to going on a cruise or with your possessions on the ship.

27. There can be long lines and waits

When you go on a lavish cruise ship or a cruise vacation you want to feel like you are lapping in the life of luxury. What you don't want to be doing is lining up for your buffet or fitting into the restaurant. But crew members have revealed that in reality...

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there is a lot of waiting around in lines to use the facilities and restaurants, despite there being so many of them. So what you don't see on the cruise ship brochure is the lines of people waiting to get breakfast in the morning and lining up to go and get into the cinema.

28. It's HUGE

Everybody knows that cruise ships are huge. But not many people actually fathom just HOW huge they are. Perhaps when we consider that they can hold around eight thousand people, they can span over 18 decks, have 20 swimming pools and multiple cinemas,
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swimming pools and even facilities such as an aqua puts it more into perspective. They are essentially a floating city out at sea. They're literally so big that we cannot even comprehend it. The crew themselves find it hard to navigate the vast amount of space.

29. There's a lot of partying

For the crew, it's a LOT of work as we know. They work so hard so when they do finally get some time off, they love to use it to party. There are a LOT of parties that happen amongst the crew on their days off. Cruise ship crew spoke about just how many parties there would be

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, and how wild they could get. In fact, working on boats has become renowned for its huge partying atmosphere and lifestyle. And this isn't amongst the guests, but the staff! And we heard it directly from the crew themselves...

30. There are hidden fees

So when you pay for a cruise you are paying for the full package...almost. Although you get the majority of your food and entertainment included, it's not always the case. If you want to go to certain restaurants or certain shows or production and entertainment facilities
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you may have to end up paying extra. So, the base price of your cruise isn't usually what you end up paying. And, when you go on more economical cruises, you can end up paying for most extras on your trip which can be deceiving!

31. There's always the chance you'll sink

The specter of a ship sinking, despite the reassuring label of being "unsinkable," echoes through maritime history like a haunting melody. The tragic saga of the Titanic, once deemed invincible, stands as an indelible reminder that even the grandest vessels can succumb to the relentless power of the sea.
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Of course we all know deep down there's always the chance that a ship will sink - even if it's labelled 'unsinkable', sadly, as we know about the Titanic. But it's one of those things you never really think about, so we're here to remind you that yep there's still a chance - even if it's a slim one - that the cruise ship can sink. It's not impossible, after all. So there's that to think about...

32. Ships can also get stranded

Indeed, the notion of a ship becoming stranded amidst the vast expanse of the ocean isn't a far-fetched scenario. While sinking might occupy the headlines, the prospect of a cruise ship finding itself at an unplanned standstill is a more frequent occurrence.
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Another risk to any ship out at sea is to also get stranded, which isn't impossible for a cruise ship, either! Getting stranded is actually more common for a cruise ship than sinking, which is sort of good news... but not really. Any sort of issue on board the huge ocean liner can result in being stranded, like engine problems which leave people needing to be evacuated.

33. Deaths are common on cruise ships

It's a startling realization that the shimmering decks and panoramic views of a cruise ship also house a somber necessity: a morgue, a solemn reminder of life's fragility even amidst opulence and leisure. The notion of its necessity might initially sound incongruous with the idea of a dreamy vacation, but the truth is as sobering as it gets.
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We mentioned the grim fact that there's a morgue on board, but it might actually be needed more often than you originally thought. A surprising number of deaths happen on cruise ships all the time. The most common cause of death on a cruise ship is actually falling, and then there are the natural deaths through cardiac arrest and health problems. There's also the reality that some people commit s*icide on cruises.

34. Overflowing toilets? Yep, that happens

Ah, the curious case of cruise ship plumbing - a labyrinth where flushed dreams can swiftly turn into a nightmare! The perils of a clogged toilet, especially when it's not just one but a chorus of blockages, create a conundrum that's all too common on these maritime marvels.
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One thing you don't want in an enclosed space with so many people is a blocked up toilet - or many, many blocked up toilets at that. But this is a common occurrence on cruise ships because of certain passengers deciding to ignore what you can actually flush down a toilet. Staff members have revealed that they've had all sorts like clothing and pool noodles tried to be flushed down toilets!

35. Fires are a risk

Indeed, the specter of fire on a cruise ship casts a shadow of fear, conjuring images of a perilous inferno in the midst of the ocean's expanse. The sheer scale of these vessels, a labyrinth of corridors and compartments, amplifies the potential devastation of such an incident.
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Another big risk of cruise ships that you don't really want to think about is the risk of a fire - which, as you can imagine, can easily spread on a ship. Not only that, but explosions can - and have - happened too. Even small fires on a massive cruise ship can be dangerous, especially if they're happening in contained rooms that you're in, like tiny cabins!

36. Food is a struggle to keep fresh!

Ah, the colossal culinary endeavor that unfolds within the belly of a cruise ship! Picture this: a floating city at sea, where the bustling kitchens orchestrate a gastronomic symphony to satiate the appetites of thousands of passengers, day in and day out.
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Just think for a moment about the sheer amount of food that needs to be stored on a cruise ship. Thousands of people need to be fed every single day - at least three times a day - on these liners, so that makes it pretty difficult to keep all that food fresh! While cruise ships do all they can to increase sanitary measures, it's inevitable there can be some food problems from time to time.

37. Around 150 people have gone overboard during an 8-year period

The tranquil balconies that adorn cruise ships, offering panoramic views of the endless ocean, can sometimes harbor chilling tales of unexpected peril. The staggering statistic of individuals going overboard—roughly averaging 150 over several years—casts a shadow over the serene facade of these maritime marvels.
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For cruise ships and ferries, there have been an average of 150 people going overboard over the span of several years. In some cases, these people were successfully rescued in time, but in others - as you can imagine - there were a number of failed rescues and fatalities. It's certainly scary to think of all those balcony rooms and the fact the ocean is just... right there.

38. You best watch out for bedbugs, too!

Ah, the promise of a luxurious escapade upon the high seas, where opulence meets the rhythmic waves, and the worries of everyday life fade into the horizon. Yet, within the confines of these floating sanctuaries, an unexpected and unwelcome guest often lurks in the shadows...
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When you book a luxury cruise liner - or any cruise liner for that matter - one thing you probably never expected to have to deal with is pests and bedbugs. While you expect rooms to be as clean as possible, bedbugs are a common problem on cruise ships, and a lot of the time this can be through passengers bringing them on board through their luggage.

39. Losing power is a problem

Ah, the heartbeat of a cruise ship lies within its power, an unseen force that propels the vessel through the endless expanse of the ocean. However, the vulnerability of this power source to glitches and outages unveils a cascade of potential predicaments, where a disruption in the ship's energy can trigger a chain reaction of woes.
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Of course a cruise ship depends on its power for a smooth journey - but as we know, that power isn't immune to problems! Power outages on ships can lead to a whole load of problems, but one of the most common can be problems with the sewage system - which isn't what you want... Passengers can be trapped on board with minimal supplies, water shortage and lack of electricity.

40. Hundreds of people vanish

The enigma of passengers vanishing from the decks of cruise ships plunges these maritime voyages into a realm of mystery and intrigue. The unsettling reality of individuals seemingly evaporating into thin air during their oceanic journeys paints a perplexing portrait of the unknown.
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It's shocking the amount of people who just... vanish from cruise ships, all the time. In just a three year span in the early 2000s, there was even as many as 200 people just vanishing while traveling as passengers on luxury liners. You have to wonder if they were traveling alone or what happened where there literally is no trace of where they went or what happened.

41. You might be asked to donate bodily fluids...

Indeed, the vast floating cities that are cruise ships strive to anticipate and prepare for a spectrum of emergencies, including the most dire medical situations. However, despite meticulous planning and equipped medical facilities, there are limitations to the resources that can be stocked onboard.
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Cruise ships do their best to prep for medical and health emergencies - and to plan for the worst case scenario with their on-board morgues - but they can't stock everything, and that includes keeping stock of blood if a passenger happened to need a transfusion. So the shocking fact is that any passenger might be asked to donate their own blood if needed...

42. The flag flying might have a questionable backstory

Ah, the fluttering flags adorning the masts of cruise ships, seemingly emblematic of their origin or destination. However, the reality behind these maritime symbols often unfolds a story less straightforward and a tad more clandestine.
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Every cruise ship will usually have a flag flying from it, of a chosen country. You might think this has meaning, like the country the ship hails from, or where it's sailing to. But actually the backstory might be a little more 'shady' than that... Sometimes cruise ships are registered with countries that they never even visit or dock at, and apparently it's all about 'cutting corners'...

43. There's always someone watching you

Ah, the illusion of seclusion on a cruise ship—a sanctuary amidst the vast expanse of the sea, right? Well, not quite. Behind the scenes of every picturesque view and secluded corner, there's a silent sentinel, a ubiquitous eye in the sky that's constantly vigilant.
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Want to escape on a cruise for some peaceful privacy? Never going to happen. Aboard a cruise ship, there is ALWAYS someone watching you! Of course, this is all for security reasons, because they have to keep track of all passengers on board. They have a whole load of cameras installed to track foot traffic and watch during peak times like when dining.

44. The crew has a code for different issues

Ah, the clandestine language spoken in hushed tones amidst the bustling corridors of a cruise ship—a linguistic code that sounds like gobbledygook to the untrained ear, yet holds crucial meanings for the crew navigating the maritime labyrinth.
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A lot of organizations have code for communication between its members, in the event of an emergency and to let each other know when certain things are happening and avoid panic from eavesdroppers. On a cruise shop, you might hear crew members speaking in what sounds like gobbledygook - but to them, it means something, like 'Code Oscar' for man overboard!

45. Cruise ships are as heavy as around 9,000 army tanks

Indeed, the sheer magnitude of these floating behemoths can send shivers down the spine, especially when pondering their mind-boggling weight and dimensions. Imagine this: the largest cruise ships, titans of the sea, tip the scales at a staggering weight.
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When worrying about that thing we said about it being possible for a cruise ship to sink, let us also explain how much they actually weigh so you can worry about it that little bit more! The weight of the average largest cruise ship is equivalent to around 9,000 of those huge armored army tanks. They're also about as long as four football fields. Even worse if you have megalophobia...

46. Around 8,260 cups of coffee are drank on board A DAY

Ah, the intoxicating aroma of coffee, that elixir of alertness and comfort, flowing in abundance on the decks of a cruise ship! The staggering quantity of this beloved beverage consumed daily aboard these maritime marvels unveils a caffeine-fueled reality.
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Just in case you were feeling guilty about your coffee addiction, the average amount of coffee consumed on a cruise ship every single day is around 8,260! Think of how many coffee beans that is! How many cups! How much washing up to do! It really puts it into perspective how much food they have on board, too, if this is just the amount of coffee served on the daily...

47. Some ships fail disease inspection tests

Indeed, the idyllic image of a cruise ship journey can sometimes be shattered by unsettling reports that unveil lapses in hygiene and disease control, turning the luxurious escapade into a narrative of overlooked flaws and potential health hazards.
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It doesn't always have to be a pandemic with passengers bringing things on board with them - sometimes, cruise ships themselves just aren't up to standards when it comes to disease control. And it's not just all about the food, either. Recently, one cruise ship failed for a number of reasons, including insufficient chlorination in the water park, a fly near burger patties and a dried food waste compartment that was leaking... ew.

48. Some crew members have to pay the liner to hire them!

It's a sobering reality within the cruise ship industry that aspiring workers from certain parts of the world often encounter a steep and unjust cost to pursue employment opportunities aboard these maritime giants.
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If people from third world countries are looking to be employed by cruise liners, they often have to actually pay out of their own pocket to be given a job. This is because this workers are recruited by employment agencies who then charge them for things like interviews (which could be over $1000 just to get the opportunity to interview!) and then other charges for things like uniforms!

49. You can live on a cruise ship

That's a fascinating loophole in the realm of unconventional living arrangements! Indeed, for those seeking an alternative lifestyle and a novel approach to accommodation, the concept of residing on a cruise ship full-time is an intriguing option that blurs the lines.
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Okay so this isn't so much a dirty fact as a dirty hack, but it's one worth knowing - especially if you don't want to pay for a conventional mortgage anymore. Some people actually do live on cruise ships full time, and we don't mean the staff. You can pay an annual lump sum to have the cruise be your residence. Failing that, you also have the option just to continually book back to back cruises!

50. A cruise ship can have as many as 5,000 sprinklers

Cruise ships go to great lengths to mitigate the risks associated with fires at sea. They're essentially floating cities, and safety measures are a top priority to ensure the well-being of everyone on board. The sheer number of fire prevention tools and systems is staggering.
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We spoke about the fire risk, and while fires can still happen, there's no doubt they try to stock up as much as possible to try and make it NOT happen. The average cruise ship will have around 5,000 sprinklers on board, as well as around 500 fire extinguishers and around 4,000 smoke detectors. There might also be actual firefighting crews on board, too!