Do Cruise Ships Have Morgues?

Do Cruise Ships Have Morgues? While planning your dream vacation on a luxurious cruise ship, the last thing on your mind is probably what happens in the unfortunate event of a death onboard.

However, it’s essential to be informed about the procedures and facilities available, such as the presence of a cruise ship morgue.

So, do cruise ships have morgues?┬áIn this article, we’ll look into the intriguing world of cruise ship morgues, exploring their locations, capacities, and what happens in the unfortunate event of a passenger’s passing. So sit back, relax, and let’s set sail on this informative journey together.

Do Cruise Ships Have Morgues?

Do Cruise Ships Have Morgues?

If you’ve ever wondered about the presence of morgues on cruise ships, the answer may surprise you. Yes, most of the world’s largest cruise ships do have morgues. These morgues are typically tucked away on the lower decks, away from the high-traffic passenger areas. In fact, the location of the morgue is not usually shown on the ship’s deck plans. Cruise lines don’t promote the existence of their morgues, as it’s not a pleasant topic to discuss.

While it may not be something you think about when planning your vacation, it’s essential to know what to do in the event of a death while on a cruise ship. By law, cruise ships must have body bags and a morgue on board in case of death during the journey. This ensures that there is a proper place to handle the deceased and maintain their dignity.

Typically, a cruise ship morgue has enough space for three bodies. The morgue is staffed by the ship’s doctor and a nurse medical team, providing professional care and support during such unfortunate circumstances.

However, the exact capacity of the morgue can vary depending on the size of the ship. Larger ships tend to have larger morgues, as they accommodate more passengers.

Cruise ship morgues are not publicized, and this may come as a surprise to many passengers. However, it’s a necessary facility that ensures respect, care, and proper handling of those who have passed away during their voyage.

The morgue serves as a temporary resting place for the deceased until the cruise ship reaches its next port, where the body will be unloaded and transferred to local authorities.

The Reality of Deaths on Cruise Ships

The Reality of Deaths on Cruise Ships

While cruising may be associated with relaxation and enjoyment, the reality is that deaths on cruise ships are not uncommon. It’s a somber topic, but one that should be acknowledged for those considering embarking on a cruise adventure.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Travel Medicine and Global Health, there were 623 reported deaths on cruise ships between 2000 and 2019. This statistic may come as a surprise, as the cruise lines typically strive to avoid negative publicity surrounding such incidents.

Fall-related accidents were found to be the most common cause of death among passengers, followed by cardiac arrests and suicides. Crew members, on the other hand, were found to be at higher risk for suicide, murder, and falls. These findings highlight the need for safety precautions and awareness while at sea.

Cruises may be synonymous with luxury and leisure, but it’s important to remember that tragedies can occur anywhere, even in the middle of the ocean.

As the demographic of cruise passengers tends to skew towards older individuals, who are more likely to book longer journeys, the likelihood of deaths due to natural causes increases.

What happens when someone dies on a cruise ship?

When it comes to the unfortunate event of a death onboard a cruise ship, cruise lines have protocols in place to handle the situation with care and respect. Here’s an overview of what typically happens if someone dies on a cruise ship:

1. Immediate Response and Care

If a passenger or crew member passes away while onboard, the ship’s crew will respond promptly and provide immediate medical attention if needed. They are trained to handle such situations and prioritize the well-being of all those onboard.

2. Morgue Facilities

Yes, most of the world’s largest cruise ships do have morgues. The size of the morgue depends on the size of the ship. While smaller ships may have small refrigerators that can accommodate one or two bodies, larger ships may have more spacious facilities. In case of space constraints, crew members may utilize alternative options, such as walk-in freezers, to store the deceased until they can be transferred to shore.

3. Handling and Documentation

Once a person passes away on a cruise ship, the crew will take appropriate measures to handle the body respectfully. This includes documentation, proper bagging, and securing the body to ensure its integrity during transportation off the ship.

4. Coordination with Local Authorities

As the ship reaches its next port, arrangements are made for the body to be unloaded and transferred to local authorities. Cruise lines have established procedures in place to coordinate with these authorities and ensure a smooth transition. It is important to note that the responsibility for further procedures, such as determining the cause of death or arranging for a funeral, usually falls under the jurisdiction of local authorities.

5. Support for Family and Friends

Cruise lines understand the emotional toll that a death onboard can have on family members and friends of the deceased. They provide support and assistance to those affected, offering guidance and helping them navigate the necessary procedures and arrangements.

How Big Are the Morgues on Cruise Ships?

As you may wonder, “do cruise ships have morgues,” one of the common questions that arise is about the size of these morgue facilities. Cruise ships are legally required to have morgues onboard to handle deaths that may occur during a voyage. The size of the morgues can vary depending on the size of the ship.

Typically, ocean-going cruise ships have morgues that can accommodate three to four bodies. However, the exact capacity may differ for each ship.

The primary objective is to have sufficient space to store the deceased passengers until they can be returned to their families or transferred to a port where the local authorities can take charge.

The morgues on cruise ships are often located on the lowest deck and are equipped with stainless steel refrigeration units to maintain the body’s preservation. It is important to note that these morgues are always kept separate from areas where food is stored, ensuring proper hygiene and safety.

Although cruise lines make efforts to provide appropriate morgue facilities, there have been rare instances where the morgue was not big enough to accommodate all deceased passengers.

In such cases, alternative arrangements had to be made to store the bodies, as reported by Ross A. Klein, a sociologist and author specializing in the cruise ship industry.

Overall, cruise ships are well-prepared to handle unfortunate situations and prioritize the well-being of their passengers, even in the event of a passenger’s death.

The presence of morgue facilities on cruise ships demonstrates the industry’s commitment to ensuring a safe and respectful environment for all those onboard.

Stay Connected at Sea: Do Cruise Ships Have WiFi?


Is there a surgeon on a cruise ship?

Yes, cruise ships have medical facilities that can handle minor surgeries like wound suturing. Hospital beds, a small surgical suite, and ICU or isolation rooms are available if needed.

Do cruise ships have a mortician?

Yes, most large cruise ships have morgues. The size of the morgue depends on the ship’s capacity, and they are required to carry body bags.

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