Do cruise ships have morgues?

Originally published at: Do cruise ships have morgues? | Boing Boing


If I remember the gleefully morbid guy standing in line with us as the wife and I boarded for our honeymoon cruise, there’s a special section in the refrigerated pantry of the ship.


I’m assuming that regulators are deeply humorless about classifying Davy Jone’s locker as your ship’s morgue of functionally unbounded capacity?


I assume they have a brig as well, since close quarters and plentiful bars are not a recipe for good behaviour among many.


Carnival Fantasy Morgue and Brig.


so they’re right next to each other? what else do they hide down there?! (/s ?)


Always be wary if the buffet starts hyping up the ice cream bar all of a sudden.



A bag and a couple of cannonballs should do the job, as the ancient custom of the sea goes…


I learned a few weeks ago that container ships do not have any kind of brig – a friend at the gym is a captain for a big cargo line and he had one of his crew assault the first mate – king hit the guy in a corridor. All he could do – six days out from port – was confine him to his quarters under threat of never working again (which was likely the result anyway).


The last cruise we went on (long before covid), we heard several old couples talking amongst themselves about how they had literally sold everything they had except for a few changes of clothes and planned to basically die on the ships.

Here’s one article I found about it but I’ve been led to believe it’s fairly common.


My brother in law’s poor mother passed away from a massive heart attack on a cruise in the caribbean a few years ago. The only silver lining to this story is that the woman loved going on cruises and her entire family was at least happy she was doing what she loved to do before she passed away.

The had just retired and was on the cruise with friends and never showed up to dinner one night. They alerted the steward who checked her room and they found out that she had passed away in her bed sometime between breakfast that morning and a planned dinner that evening. The friends would take yearly cruises together and spend some of the days doing things as a group and others they would do their own thing and just meet for one or two meals.

Because of the bureaucratic red tape, she had to hve an autopsy conducted on one of the islands, not sure which, (they determined that she died from heart failure, and did not suffer as it was relatively quick) and her body was transported back to the ship’s morgue to be taken to Florida. They do not turn ships around if someone passes away as there are thousands of people on the ships, much to the family’s shagrin. Makes total sense, but not very comforting that your mother has died and she’s traveling around the caribbean for another seven days.

The truly sad part about this, however, is the ship’s morgue facility wasn’t operating properly and the body was not properly refrigerated, and the body cannot, in no uncertain terms, be stored with food products. The malfunction occurred while the ship was underway and she was in an unrefrigerated morgue for about four to five days. Suffice it to say, she had deteriorated and they could not have an open casket funeral when she finally got back to Michigan, which is a shame for the family.

I’ve since asked my brother in law if he’d ever go on a cruise after all this and he said he would. He said some of the best memories growing up with his mom, dad and brothers, were taking cruises and although it was a tragic circumstance for his mother and his family, he believes that his mom would have wanted everyone to have a good time to honor her memory.


Ocean-going ships are legally required to have both body bags and a morgue … The latter must be kept away from the food storage areas.

If there’s a rule about it, you know that Something Happened that made the rule necessary.

“Bad news, skipper. You know that old guy who died playing shuffleboard yesterday? Well, cook got confused, and accidentally cooked and served him for supper.”

“Good God! Were they able to save some of the body, at least?”

“Not so much. The passengers enjoyed him so much that they all came back for second helpings.”


I can say that yes they do. I used to work for the Coroner in Vancouver and we picked up a nice old man from a cruise ship once. There were only two crypts though.


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