Skip to Content

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 every day by 9 am!

bananas on ships

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 of a man who owned a boat and 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 even want the word “Banana” on his boat!

Many fishermen won’t allow anything banana-related, like 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 onboard.

Reasons Why Bananas Are Considered Unlucky

  • The first and probably most likely reason why Bananas on ships are considered to be bad luck is that if ships 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 reason is that because spiders, snakes and other venomous 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. 

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 on board a ship 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 to 1789 when the mutiny on the HMS Bounty occurred. During the mutiny, crew members took control of the ship from their Captain and left him 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.

Ventura storm at Sea
Storms at sea – P&O’s Ventura

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 deck 13 is renamed if the deck includes cabins. A deck 13 which for example, contained a sports court, would probably not be renamed.

This isn’t always a fleet-wide decision though.

Most of the Oasis-Class Royal Caribbean cruise ships don’t have deck 13 – but Quantum-class cruise ships do.

Royal Caribbean’s largest ship “Icon of the Seas” doesn’t have a deck 13 – but they have taken it a step further – they don’t have any cabins that end in “13” either!

Icon of the seas
Icon of the Seas has no deck 13 – Image Royal Caribbean

In the same way, number 17 is considered to be unlucky in Italian culture.

This is because when 17 is 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 luck ceremony goes back as far as shipbuilding does.

Vikings used to offer human sacrifices to secure “Good luck” for a ship. Luckily naming ceremonies have changed a lot since then!

Superstition says it is extremely bad luck to rename a 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. 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 be believed, then many modern cruise ships are now unlucky.

In some circumstances, the cruise ship’s 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 not uncommon for ships to be sold to other cruise lines, and have their names changed. The British cruise line Marella has ships that were all bought from other cruise companies.

Find out about that here:

Marella Cruises, Ships by Size – Photo Guide and Reviews

It’s Bad Luck to Meet a Redhead Before Sailing

One of the more bizarre superstitions is about people with red hair.

Legend has it that redheads were unlucky to have onboard ships. 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 when 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 the right foot first.

step on ship with right foot

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 anyone does a strange little shuffle to make sure that their right foot is the first to touch the ship…

Emma in disembarkation day t shirt
Disembarkation day T-Shirt available at emmacruisesshop.com

The legend doesn’t provide us with any insight into which foot we should use to step off the ship with. It’s probably more important to just look where you’re going rather than worry about which foot you’re using.

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

Throwing a stone into the sea is seen as bad luck because it’s 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 leaves port, it is 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.

Before You Go

Find out what might happen if you are unlucky enough to have to leave the ship early in an emergency here:

Leaving a Cruise in an Emergency – What Happens Next? (PASSENGER INTERVIEW and Advice)

Find out what happens if you are unlucky enough to miss your cruise ship here:

What Actually Happens When You Miss The Cruise Ship?

Taking a Cruise: Recommendations and Resources

Get Captain Hudson
Book a Cruise
Get Travel Insurance
Emma Cruises Shop
My Favourite Bags – Mia Tui

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide