I worked on a cruise ship for three years! I've got a lot of these kinds of stories, but here's my favorite one:
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 & perfectly fine.
They reviewed the security footage, & in the middle of the night this guy was drunk on Deck 5, & could be seen holding his phone, 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 cruise ship spotted him & 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 was touring a ship for a future event. The ship was about to leave for a 100+ day cruise. I saw alot of old people getting on with oxygen tanks. I asked him what happens if they die on board. He said it was very common for old people blow their life savings to come spend their last days on this cruise. He also said they have a fully functional morgue.
Think about all the old folks you see get on to the boat - for a lot of them this is their retirement home (and cheaper than a lot of other retirement homes). They are literally taking cruises until they die and we eventually find them in their cabins.
I am a cruise ship worker. First one is, we don't want you to know that we actually have more fun than the guests. Sure we'll work the big white hot party that your all going to, but once we finish our shift all hell is breaking loose in the crew bar.
Just below and to the sides of where you are sleeping there are crew members having sex, smoking and drinking. Our beers are $1. No drugs or spirits though.
We also don't want you to know that all those funny jokes we tell you at bingo? Yeah... Same ones are said every. Single. Cruise. That really funny answer you gave us about your wife during the happy couples game? Heard it. It was said last cruise and the one before that, and the one before that...
I was on the Costa Serena in January 2012. Just cruising around the Mediterranean. Woke up one morning and ALL of the crew and wait staff at breakfast we're stone cold and depressed looking. They made us do an extra life boat drill that morning, to all of our confusion. Found out later that day that our sister ship, the Concordia, sank overnight but didn't have many other details.
My now wife wasn't on the trip and didn't know the exact name of the ship I was on..and found out before us. She was terrified till the next morning when I could get on to the ship's internet connected computer.
We also found out the crew was especially depressed because a lot of them had family on the other ship and very little information.
Took a few days, but things got back to fairly normal. I just remembered doing life boat drils and thinking they were a waste of time...learned that lesson.
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 authorites 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 escort/assistant for the remainder of her vacation.
I was playing a production show (guitar) was standing on stage with a wireless unit alone to play Purple Rain, and then all of the sudden the house lights came on and the curtains closed. Everyone in the audience looked at me, and I ran off the stage. Turns out a sewage pipe burst backstage and there was s**t everywhere. Show was cancelled and the passengers didn't find out why.
Well, all the passengers found out, but on a QM2 transatlantic crossing one of the kitchen staff got drunk one night and hurled himself overboard in the North Atlantic. The ship basically found out the next morning when the first mate kept calling on the ship wide intercom for him to go to his post. That afternoon, the captain announced what happened and that the ship was turning around to, with the help of 3 nearby merchant ships, try to search for the him. Of course it was foggy as hell and you couldn't see 100yds but just about everyone was on the railings with binoculars trying to search for the poor guy. A wedding even stopped onboard, the whole party out looking once the announcement came that we were in the search area. After (shockingly) nothing was found, the concierge desk set up a multinational-currency donation box to send to his family back in Chile. There were 4 days left in the trip at that point and every day that box was stuffed to capacity.. I hope it helped them.
I work on cargo ships but I've trained with cruise ship workers so I've heard a few stories. I read your comment below and generally the news only picks up on accidents on ships if its a major accident involving a lot of people. So pretty much only cruise ships and luckily besides the Costa Concordia its pretty rare these days.
I do know that they have codes when speaking about incidents though so to not alarm passengers. For example if someone is hurt/dead (quite common, if you have a heart attack at sea then your chances suck) and they need to call for help via tannoy they will use a code so the passengers don't know what they are talking about.
Also as someone else mentioned, certain cruise companies that attract older passengers have a seperate fridge for bodies because getting through a trip without a death is not so common.
All of the computer systems run on Windows 7, including all of the automation in the machinery space, security system, fire detection system etc.. When Windows updates it will restart the computers, as it does with a normal desktop, unfortunately it can also take out every computer at the same time and we're flying blind until it finishes.
I know at least Carnival makes their employees pay for internet. I was talking with some crew and they were asking about current events and politics because they're almost cut off because of how expensive the internet access is
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.
I was a cruise ship worker for a few years and on a route between two cities there was a really bad storm. So a few minutes after the passengers got off, the storm got so rough that the ship was ripped off the docks and drifted out to sea. Because it takes quite a while to start up the engines it took some time until we got back to the harbor. Not really dangerous, but if it had happened while the passengers were deboarding it could have gone badly.
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.
Not a crewman (nor am I a boatswain) but I went on one of those overnight cruises to Bruges and we caught one of the seamen with his pants literally around his ankles as he was balls deep in one of the waitresses.
We skidoodled the heckaroo out of there and later found that it was actually a couple who were on the cruise as passengers and were roleplaying, and that we had actually barged into their cabin by accident while drunk.
Fires happen occasionally. The most terrifying was a crankcase explosion. The fire suppression systems are good at extinguishing them quickly enough though so they're not even a concern to the crew, unless Windows is updating at the time.
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 jelly fish and were super cold the whole time. That must have been the scariest most terrible eighteen hours of their lives.
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 a centralized location.
A friend of mine got fired for gettting wasted, got pissed and starting 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