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17 Shocking Cruise Ship Secrets I Learned After Going On Six Cruises

FYI: Most cruise ships have a morgue on board.

Hey, everyone! I'm Spencer, and I've been on quite a few cruises in my lifetime. I've seen a lot of cool things on board these floating cities – some you'd probably never expect.

I just got back from a cruise through the Eastern Caribbean, so I thought I'd share some unexpected, cool things about cruise ships that I learned. Think of this as your own secret ~behind-the-scenes~ look into being on board.

1. First of all, most cruise ships have a morgue on board.

Twitter: @ElHermanoAmigo

This is kind of creepy, but it totally makes sense. People die every day, and the majority of people who take cruises are much older, so cruise ships need to be prepared (since they won't venture off course and head to land). Death doesn't wait for you to finish your vacation.

Side note: Someone on my most recent cruise had a heart attack on board in the middle of the night, and a helicopter had to do an emergency landing ~on the ship~ to take the passenger to a hospital (they're fine – don't worry).

2. They also have jails, too, just in case.

Twitter: @DINKtravelers

Most cruise ships offer tours to their passengers, and if you ever take one you'll probably come across the "brigs" (i.e. jail cells) that are basically just small, empty rooms in one of the bottom decks of the ship.

3. The ship's kitchen (or "galley") is absolutely massive. They serve upward of 30,000 meals each day. That's about 100 tons of food in a seven-day period. /

There are literally thousands of guests and workers on each cruise. On the world's largest cruise ship, a seven-day cruise uses 3.5 tons of rice, 5.5 tons of flour, 31 tons of vegetables, 8 tons of chicken, and 15.8 tons of oil. Holy ravioli.

4. The food on cruise ships is actually incredible. Each night basically feels like a five-star dining experience. / Instagram: @spenceralthouse

If you've never been on a cruise before then you might not believe me, but I promise that the sit-down dining meals are incredible.

You can pick your poison at the buffets for any meal, but cruises also offer sit-down dining for breakfasts, most lunches, and dinners, which are all included in your ticket price. They also have specialty restaurants on board if you ever want to venture from the pack, but those cost extra.

5. The best part is that it's okay to order more than one thing on the menu. One night I ordered (and ate) three entrées during one dinner session. I have no regrets.

Instagram: @spenceralthouse

The dinners on board are how most people think they're going to get their money's worth, and I'm no exception. It's totally acceptable to order multiple starters, entrées, and desserts with each meal, so take advantage. This is especially great because there are nights when you won't be able to choose what to order. Braised lamb shank, New York strip loin, or lobster tail? I'll take all three, please.

6. Cruise ships can sort of set their own laws when they're not docked, meaning the legal age to drink and gamble on board is usually 18, not 21.

Instagram: @spenceralthouse

This is known as maritime law. So, if you're in the US and between the ages of 18 and 20 and you realllllly want to gamble at a casino, you should probably book a cruise.

7. But that doesn't mean the casino is open 24/7. Occasionally the slot machines will be open while docked, but table games don't open until ships are a few miles from land.

Instagram: @spenceralthouse

Casinos on cruise ships are really interesting. They're just like the ones in Vegas: security cameras are all around, pit bosses are always keeping a watchful eye, and most of the popular card table games (as well as slots, craps, and roulette) are available.

However, because ship casinos are so much smaller, you probably won't find every game you're looking for. For example, I unfortunately have yet to find a ship with a pai gow table.

8. While all your meals are free, the alcohol isn't. You can buy an all-inclusive drink package for about $50 a day to satisfy your vacation needs. /

Compared to most vacations, cruises are relatively cheap. Think about it: your hotel, food, and travel are all included in the ticket price. As a result, most cruises only turn a profit because of alcohol, casino, and spa spendings.

Depending on the cruise line, drink packages are usually about $50 per day. They include beer, wine, cocktails, specialty drinks, and even things like espresso. I personally don't drink alcohol or coffee, so the package wouldn't be worth it for me, but I feel like I saw 90% of the guests taking advantage of the perk.

9. When you return to your room at night, there will most likely be a towel animal waiting for you. It's weird but kind of cool.

Instagram: @spenceralthouse

Cruises have cabin stewards who, just like the cleaning staff in hotels, tidy up your room and change your sheets every day (sometimes twice a day!). Depending on the cruise line, these cabin stewards are trained in towel folding and will leave different towel animals in your cabin for you. Don't be surprised if you randomly see your sunglasses on a towel monkey or elephant.

10. Cruise bathrooms are... pretty small. Here I am standing in one (I'm a little taller than 5'11", for reference).

Instagram: @spenceralthouse

I'm not gonna lie, the shower on my last cruise (and most other cruises) was pretty small. While there was enough space for me to lather, rinse, and repeat, it still felt a little cramped.

11. There are ~fancy~ nights on cruises where guests are encouraged to dress up, so you should definitely pack accordingly. Weirdly enough, this isn't broadcast super well on some sites.

Instagram: @spenceralthouse

Depending on the length of your cruise, there's usually at least one formal night on board. Guests are requested to wear suits/dresses/etc. to those sit-down dinners, but I never saw that rule enforced. I wore a suit because I like dressing up and feeling fancy, but I definitely saw some people in regular shirts.

12. Even though you're on a boat, you'll never feel "stuck" on a ship. Cruises are literally floating cities, and they have everything from bumper cars, to Broadway shows, to shopping malls.,

In fact, you'll often forget that you're even on a ship unless you're physically outside. That's because there's never a shortage of things to do. Depending on the cruise line, there are endless activities every single day for people who want to do more than just lounge at the pools: you can go rock climbing, test your knowledge at group trivia, go indoor skydiving, win (and lose) at bingo, or relax with an outdoor movie in the pool under the stars.

13. They also have random, free contests on board with some pretty wild and expensive prizes, so they're sort of like mini carnivals.,

Outside one of the art galleries (weird, right?) on my cruise, they had a guessing game. If you could guess the exact weight of a particular art sculpture, you'd win a prize. Entry was free, so I gave it a shot. Somehow I guessed correctly (it was 20.2 pounds [don't ask how/why I guessed 20.2 pounds. I honestly have no idea]). The prize? A $700 painting!

Now, I doubt anyone else in the history of cruise ships has ever guessed correctly, but there are a bunch of cool games and contests like that throughout your stay, and they make things extra fun and interesting. For example, they also had a contest for guests to guess the correct number of carats in a particular diamond ring, and the winner would receive a literal diamond. Wild!

14. Most cruises have pretty luxurious gyms and spas on board, but look out for the spa: cruise ships know they can charge whatever they want (since it's literally the only one available), so the spas are verrrrrrry expensive!

Instagram: @spenceralthouse

Working out on a ship is an unusual but cool experience. The ever-changing view is absolutely ridiculous. Also, every ship I've been on has offered free group fitness classes with certified trainers, so if you want to start your day with a tough abs class before breakfast, you can.

I've only ever walked through the spa on the cruises I've been on, but one thing has remained the same: they're expensive (for example, a couples massage can cost close to $400 for just over an hour). This is a classic case of supply and demand. Cruise lines know that people are hoping to relax and pamper themselves, and since there's no other spa that guests can go to in the middle of the ocean, the ship can charge whatever it wants.

15. FYI: Booking a cruise is like buying a car. You can negotiate the price and even get special offers and perks for your trip.

Instagram: @spenceralthouse

There are a lot of discount sites online that have huge money-saving offers and discounts, and cruise lines typically match those offers. That's what I used when booking my cruise, resulting in an overall discount, a speciality restaurant dining voucher, and onboard credit.

Some other perks include unlimited drink passes, free gratuity, and even credit for your excursions at port. These perks definitely add up, so don't just book a cruise without doing a little research first!

16. Cruise ships will reward you with the best night's sleep you've gotten in years. I think this is due to the subtle swaying of the ship from the ocean. It feels like you're a baby again, being rocked to sleep in a crib.

The ship's movement honestly isn't that noticeable. In fact, most ships have stabilizers that extend from their sides, sort of like wings on a plane. The only time you really feel any movement is when you're still, like, in the shower or in bed.

17. And one of the coolest things is that the floor tiles in the middle of the elevators change every morning to tell you which day of the week it is, just in case you forget (you are on vacation, after all)!

Instagram: @spenceralthouse

If you're on vacation, your goal should be to lose track of what day it is. Because of that, the ship's workers change the tiles in the elevators every morning to let you know what day it is. They're the heroes we don't deserve.

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