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7 Bizarre Cruise Superstitions (That You’re Probably Breaking)

There are many superstitions related to cruising and cruise ships. In this post we explore common cruise superstitions that you are probably breaking, I know I break at least one everyday by 9am!

It’s Bad Luck to Bring Bananas on a Boat/Ship

Did you know that having Bananas on any boat or ship is considered by many to be incredibly unlucky. This superstition goes back hundreds  of years and there are many people who will not take any risks when it comes to Bananas and ships. An article in the New York times tells the story how a man who owned a boat actually cut off the logo from another man’s shirt before letting him board. The reason? The shirt was from Banana republic and he didn’t want even the word banana on his boat. Many fishermen won’t allow anything banana related such as banana muffins, dried bananas or anything banana flavoured onboard their boats. Luckily this hasn’t extended to cruise ships in such an extreme way but many people are still too superstitious to eat bananas on cruise ships. 

The first and probably most likely reason why Bananas on ships is considered to be bad lucky is that when ships would sink bananas would often be found floating on the surface, this led people to draw some sort of correlation between the bananas and the ships sinking although in reality I very much doubt that it was the bananas that caused the ships to sink but you can understand the logic there. 

Another theory says that because spiders, snakes and other verminous creatures could be transported with the bananas they gained a reputation of being bad luck as crew members and guests could be poisoned.

Bananas actually cause other fruits to ripen faster and therefore spoil more quickly than they normally would; this could be another reason why they’re considered unlucky to have onboard. 

bananas on ships

It’s Bad Luck to Whistle Onboard

It’s not uncommon to encounter somebody on a cruise happily whistling to themselves. I’ve been to shows on cruise ships where whistling is a big part of the production but did you know whistling on a ship is considered to bring bad luck? Rumour has it that whistling will ‘challenge the wind’ and bring on a storm. Some people say this is only unlucky if you’re whistling on the bridge which as a passenger shouldn’t be a problem but some people do extend this across the entire ship.

It’s unclear where this superstition came from but many say it goes back 1789 when the mutiny on the HMS Bounty occurred. During the mutiny crew members took control of the ship from their captain and left the captain and 18 other people adrift in the ocean.  According to many people who believe in this superstition, the mutiny was caused by whistling!

In reality it’s more likely that a whistling crew member on the bridge was seen as ‘tempting fate’. If the weather later turned into a storm the bad weather would be blamed on the person who was happily whistling earlier in the day.

It’s Bad Luck to Have a Deck 13

For superstitious reasons many cruise ships will not have a deck named deck ’13’. 13 is considered to be an unlucky number in many cultures and as a result many cruise lines have removed this deck from their ships so that passengers wouldn’t be put off from booking on this deck. In reality deck 13 is just called deck 14, no cruise line would leave a deck empty on a ship.

It’s usually the case that the deck is renamed if the deck include cabins. A deck 13 which for example, contained a sports court, would probably not be renamed. It isn’t the case that if one ship for a cruise line misses the deck that all will. Most of the Oasis class Royal Caribbean cruise ships don’t have deck 13 but Quantum class cruise ships do.

In the same way, number 17 is considered to be unlucky in Italian culture. This is because when 17 written in roman numerals is XVII which is an anagram of VIXI, in Latin this translates as ‘I have lived’ which implies death. As a result many MSC cruise ships miss deck 17 instead of deck 13.

It’s Bad Luck to Rename a Ship After Her Naming Ceremony

When a cruise ship is launched she will have a naming ceremony, it’s not only a way to celebrate the new ship but it’s also believed to bring good fortune to the ship and all of the people who will sail on her. The idea of having a ‘blessing’ or ‘christening’ or some sort of good lucky ceremony goes back as far as ship building does. Vikings used to offer human sacrifices in order to secure ‘good luck’ for a ship. Luckily naming ceremonies have changed a lot since then.

It is considered to be extremely bad luck to rename a cruise ship after her naming ceremony. This might be because many people believe that a ship takes on a personality when she is named or it may be considered ‘tricking the gods’ if you change the name of a ship. According to legend Neptune, the God of the Sea keeps a ‘ledger’ which contains all ships and changing the name without informing Neptune would summon his wrath.

There is a ‘de-naming ceremony’ that can be performed though if necessary. At the de-naming ceremony the original name of the ship would be written on paper, put into a box and the box burnt. The ship could then have another naming ceremony without the bad luck.

britannia naming ceremony

Photo: P&O Cruises, Britannia Naming Ceremony

Modern Day Examples

In the modern day ships do change names without having another naming ceremony. If this superstition is to believed then there are many modern cruise ships who are now unlucky.

In some circumstances the cruise ships name will change while it’s still owned by the same cruise line, the Carnival Radiance used to be Carnival Victory and the Norwegian Sky used to be Pride of Aloha. It is more common for cruise ships to change their name as they change between companies though, Celestyal’s Olympia was originally Song of America, then Songbird, Thomson Destiny, Louis Olympia and then finally Celestyal Olympia.

It’s Bad Luck to Meet a Redhead Before Sailing

One of the more bizarre superstitions is around people with red hair. Legend has it that redheads were unlucky to have onboard ships and even meeting a red-headed person before boarding was bad luck.  The way to avoid the bad luck was to speak to the person with red hair before they spoke to you.

It’s said that this superstition goes back to the middle ages where people with red hair were often accused of being witches. Their red hair was said to have been stolen from the fires of hell. In Greece many people believed that people with red hair would turn into vampires when they died.

Luckily having red hair in the modern day is not seen in the same way and there are no hair colours banned from taking cruises.

It’s Bad Luck to Step Onboard a Ship With Your Left Foot First

Legend has it that to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip you should always step onto a ship with your right foot first. Personally I’m usually too excited to think about which foot I’m using to step onboard with but I have been with other people who always step on right foot first.

Many people extend this right foot idea to other areas of their lives, some people put their right food down first when they get out of bed and some people make sure that they always leave their house with their right foot first. The word ‘sinister’ actually comes from a latin word meaning ‘to the left’.

Next time you’re board a cruise ship keep an eye out and see if anything does a strange little shuffle in order to make sure that their right foot is the first to touch the ship. The legend doesn’t provide us with any insight into which foot we should use to step off the ship with, but it’s probably more important to just look where you’re going rather than worry about which foot you’re using.

step on ship with right foot

It’s Bad Luck to Throw a Stone Into The Sea

Throwing a stone into the sea is seen as being bad luck because its disrespecting the sea. Legend has it that the sea will retaliate and bring storms and wind upon the ship. If a stone is thrown into the sea as a ship leave port its believed that the ship will never return.

It makes sense not to throw stones off the ship, I imagine that it would be bad luck for anybody, or anything that the stones hit on their way down! This superstition seems to make a lot more sense than the others.



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