10 Worst Things that can Happen on a Cruise

Before making a decision in life, how often have you asked yourself: ”What is the worst that can happen?” I bet the same thing is with first-time cruisers. I can picture those people reading articles about incidents, browsing through statistics, wondering what can go wrong, etc… Yes, it is true, bad things do happen, but the purpose of this article is definitely not to scare you off. The point is that you have the same chance to run into trouble if you stay at home instead of taking a cruise vacation. The statistics don’t lie. But no matter how rare those situations are, we feel that all the potential cruisers should know about them. So, here we are with the unfortunate situations list:

Falling off-board

This is a nightmare situation for any passenger as well as for the cruise line. There is no or a minimum chance to recover the person from the sea once they fall overboard. According to official reports, 22 incidents of this kind occurred in 2006. basically there are a few different reasons why this happens, but almost always it involves personal problems and a high level of stress. It is interesting that these incidents by percentage happen more often among the crew than the passengers. That is probably because some crew members cannot handle hard work under pressure and absence from home, which can lead to psychological crisis and suicide. Passengers falling off-board in most cases are under the influence of one major factor – alcohol. Ok, we are not saying that sometimes cruise lines don’t share their part of the responsibility, but in s big number of passengers, it is really difficult to keep ships totally incident-free. There are long debates over these issues since victims’ families feel that justice is not served. At this point, we can only recommend: drink wisely and do not let things get out of control.

Other alcohol-caused incidents

What can I say? At night, bars, discotheques, and other public spaces are crowded with people. The atmosphere is hot, a good time all over the place. Of course, as it usually goes, there are chances that there are always people who just cannot control their behavior when they have more drinks than they should. These problems belong to the responsibility of ship security officers.


Norovirus is not that tragic. Actually we covered this issue earlier, so let’s just summarize: It is a stomach virus, more annoying than dangerous, it is specialized in cruise ships and its enemy is a high level of personal hygiene.

Getting mugged in a port

Abroad or in the U.S., after all, what is the difference? Ok if you are mugged in the U.S., the Territory law may officially protect you, but once it happens, it is usually too late. To avoid those situations, follow the instructions given by the cruise line. Try to go out in groups and take only recommended shore excursion providers. And of course, use common precaution measures: watch out for your wallet; do not carry unnecessary amounts of cash, jewelry, etc…

Miss the ship in the port

This is happening more often than you think. It is so easy to get carried away on a beautiful beach, for example. You wish it can last forever, but unfortunately, the ship and 3000 people on it cannot wait for that long. This is especially the case when the ship is changing time zones. It is actually a simple problem to solve; you just need to pay attention and synchronize your watch. That’s it. If it happens that your ship leaves the port without you, the only thing you can do is to search an alternative transport to your next port and rejoin your vessel there or go home. What a perfect way to ruin a vacation, don’t you think? And no, you do not get any money refund.


Getting seasick is another issue that scares people much more than it should be. It usually happens on long trans-oceanic voyages and it is easily treatable by proper medicines. If you are prone to seasickness, be sure to pick the right cabin on the ship to minimize its effects.

Ship Malfunctions

A modern vessel cannot sink if that is what you think. Actually they are very reliable state-of-art machines, but then again, nothing is perfect in this world. Last year was especially unfortunate for Princess Cruises when it comes to safety. Fire on the ship and a tilt incident resulted in one passenger dead and a dozen injured. Though extremely rare, these things do happen. When comparing total numbers of passengers and a number of passengers injured on ships, we can see that cruises are maybe the safest way of transportation in the world, it’s good to know that.


Your cruise schedule can be changed or canceled due to a hurricane or bad weather. Well, usually these changes are minor; sometimes ships just skip a port or so. If major changes occur, it is good to have cruise insurance, though the cruise lines sometimes offer refunds or discounts if that happens.


It is amazing how often people don’t pay attention to the hot, tropical sun rays, especially when they are coming from northern parts of the world. One should think that everybody knows how to be careful on the first day in the sun, but then again on every cruise, we can see folks returning from the beach roasted.

Attacked by pirates

Well, not exactly. This happened only once and it was more funny than dangerous. Off the coast of Somalia, four crooks in a small boat and carrying a grenade launcher tried to invade the Seabourn Spirit. Needles to say, the ship just ran away from them without suffered damage.

That would be the 10 scariest things that happen on a cruise ship vacation. I repeat, this article doesn’t have the purpose of turning you away from cruising. These are just facts you should know, nothing else. To write the best things that can happen would take much more space and time.

Now, if you will excuse me please, I am going to book my next cruise vacation…

Share on: