- Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Cruising can be one of the most relaxing and enjoyable vacations a family can plan. With meals, entertainment, activities, and housekeeping included in the cost of your room, there is virtually nothing to worry about.
The popularity of cruises continues to rise. In fact, the latest State of the Cruise Industry report by Cruise Lines International Association estimated that 28 million passengers will cruise in 2018. This is up from 26.7 million in 2017 and 25.2 million in 2016.
But with CLIA’s report of nearly 450 cruise ships currently sailing worldwide and the unpredictability of mother nature, not every passenger on a cruise ship will experience the vacation of their dreams. In fact, in some cases, cruising can be a downright nightmare.
Here are some of the most unfortunate incidents that have happened on cruises in recent history.
More than 500 passengers became ill on Royal Caribbean cruises within 2 months.
- Sarah Schmalbruch/INSIDER
In January, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean Cruises announced that 47 passengers on The Grandeur of the Seas, which departed from Baltimore, reported symptoms of gastrointestinal illness. A cruise from Singapore to Australia had over 200 reported cases of illness, and 332 cases of illness were reported on a cruise from Florida.
50 staterooms were affected by a flood on a Carnival Cruise Line ship.
- Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines via Getty Images
Nearly 100 passengers aboard a seven-day cruise on the Carnival Dream received a refund and 50% off of a future cruise after their staterooms and hallways were flooded.
Carnival Cruise Line provided a statement to INSIDER, which explained that the flooding was caused by a waterline break in the fire-suppression system of the cruise ship.
A crew member was killed during a lifeboat drill.
- REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
A cruise ship crewmember on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas was killed in September 2016 during a lifeboat drill. He was sitting with four other crew members in a lifeboat when it disconnected from the ship and fell 33 feet from the deck into the water in Marseille, France.
Passengers got stuck on a “cruise to nowhere” during Hurricane Irma.
Passengers on Norwegian Cruise Line ships Sky and Escape had to make an early return to Miami in September 2017 due to Hurricane Irma. Because it was nearly impossible to find hotel accommodations, the cruise line allowed displaced passengers to board the Escape on a “cruise to nowhere” until the storm passed.
Luckily, they had access to food, water, and alcohol and were not charged for the trip.
A man fell off one cruise ship and was rescued by another.
- Bruno Vincent/Getty Images
In January 2015, a passenger on a Royal Caribbean cruise fell off of the ship near Cozumel, Mexico. A passenger sitting on his balcony on the Disney Cruise Line ship Magic heard screams for help. The Disney Magic rescued the man, who was treated and flown back home to the United States.
Elevators and toilets stopped working on a Carnival Cruise.
- REUTERS/Mike Blake
In March 2013, toilets and elevators stopped working halfway through a seven-day cruise on the Carnival Dream.
“There’s human waste all over the floor in some of the bathrooms and they’re overflowing – and in the staterooms,” passenger Gregg Stark told CNN of the incident.
Carnival cruise lines had to fly passengers back to Florida. They received a three-day refund and a half-price cruise in the future.
A ship with more than 4,000 passengers became stranded after a fire.
- REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Lt. Cmdr. Paul McConnell/Handout
A fire in one of the diesel generators of the Carnival Triumph killed its propulsion, causing the ship to become stranded back in February 2013. The passengers had limited food and few working toilets and elevators while they waited for the ship to be tugged to shore.
A cruise ship lost a passenger’s dialysis machine, and then kicked her off the boat.
A passenger was checking in for her Jamaican cruise in May 2012 when Carnival told her that they couldn’t find her portable dialysis machine. The passenger, who needed nightly dialysis, was then escorted off of the ship without an explanation. The ship proceeded to sail away with the rest of her luggage, and presumably the lost medical equipment, on board.
Carnival issued an apology, refunded her ticket, and offered her credit for a future cruise.
Men hired to mingle with passengers were booted off a gay cruise and marooned in a war zone.
In June 2012, a group of men were hired to mingle with passengers on a Holland America gay cruise. When passengers saw photographers and videographers filming the men, they worried that pornography was being filmed on the ship. The men were forced off the ship at the first port-of-call, which was Tunisia – in the middle of the Arab Spring uprising.
According to the Wisconsin Gazette, the men were hired models who had “limited money, no Tunisian visas, no means of return passage and no ability to speak the local language.” The men sued RSVP Vacations and Holland America.
32 people died when the Costa Concordia ran aground and sank.
- REUTERS/Carabinieri Police/Handout via Reuters
In January 2012, the Costa Concordia, a 4,200-passenger cruise liner, was brought too close to shore in Italy and struck rocks, which tore a giant hole in its side. The ship ran aground and sank.
The captain of the Concordia was eventually sentenced to 16 years in prison after 32 passengers died. His charges included delaying evacuation and abandoning ship before all of his passengers and crew had been rescued.
More than 1,300 people were stranded on a Viking Sky cruise ship.
Some of the passengers were airlifted off of the ship individually and some had to wait 24 hours for relief, according to The Washington Post. Small boats could not be used because of the weather conditions and some passengers told the paper that waves got so rough that one broke doors on the ship and threw passengers across the room.
Videos from people who said they were on the ship showed water inside of the ship and said that waves were 30 feet high. After evacuating 479 passengers by air, the conditions improved and the captain decided on a new plan, according to the AP. The ship was docked so the remaining passengers and crew could evacuate.
A cruise ship in Venice lost control and crashed into a smaller boat.
- REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri
The MSC Opera, a massive cruise ship, crashed into a smaller tourist ship, the River Countess, after the Opera’s engines reportedly got stuck.
The incident, which happened in Venice, Italy, in June 2019, left four people on the dockside injured.