Cruise Superstitions

From the Shipmate Archives. Originally Published July 19, 2011. 

Cruise Superstitions

Don’t blame it on me, these cruise superstitions have been passed down for many years. Here are a few of the more interesting cruise superstitions delivered from Royal Caribbean’s Senior VP of Marine Operations, Bill Wright.

22 Weird Cruise Superstitions

1)  Disaster will follow if you step onto a boat with your left foot first.
Our take: don’t forget… that’s your “port side” foot, for the true cruisers.

2)  Avoid people with red hair when going to the ship to begin a journey.
Redheads bring bad luck to a ship, which can be averted if you speak to the red-head before they speak to you.
Our take:  that would be a heck of a pick-up line.

3)  It is unlucky to kill an albatross.
They host the soul of dead sailors and are considered to be an omen of bad luck at sea, especially if killed.
Our take: also true on the golf course.

4)  Flowers are unlucky on board a ship.
They could later be used to make a funeral wreath for the dead, therefore, becoming a symbol that someone could die on the voyage.
Our take: in that case, leave them next to your pile of tombstones at home.

5)  Black traveling bags are bad luck for a seaman.
Black is the color of death and indicative of the depths of the sea.
Our takegood thing we just bought these.

6)  Never say good luck or allow someone to say good luck to you unanswered.
Detail: If someone says “good luck” to you, it is most assuredly a bad omen and sure to bring about bad luck. The only way this can be countered is by drawing blood. A swift punch in the nose is usually sufficient to reverse this curse.
Our take: The staff at Shipmate does not recommend punching noses to avoid back luck.  If this cruise superstition were followed, the casino would turn into a blood-bath.

7)  Avoid Flat-footed people when beginning a trip.
Like with redheads, the danger can be avoided by speaking to them before they speak to you.
Our take: just how flat are we taking here??… this could get awkward upon first meeting.

8)  A stolen piece of wood mortised into the keel will make a ship sail faster.
Our take: 
note to self… bring mortiser.

9)  Pouring wine on the deck will bring good luck on a long voyage.
An offering to the gods.
Our take: this is one of our least favorite cruise superstitions.  We call this the “party foul superstition.”

10)  Throwing stones into the sea will cause great waves.
A sign of disrespect to the sea, ensuring retaliation in the form of stormy seas.
Our take: wow, that’s gotta be one big rock.

11)  A stone thrown over a vessel that is putting out to sea ensures she will never return.
A sign of disrespect to the sea, dooming the ship and all aboard.
Our take: more stone talk? I thought we covered this.

12)  Don’t look back once your ship has left port as this can bring bad luck.
Looking back to port implies that you are not truly ready to brave the seas and complete your voyage, bringing about bad luck on yourself and the ship.
Our take: in Ensenada, it implies that you made it out alive.

13)  Black cats are considered good luck and will bring a sailor home from the sea.
Detail: While black is the color of death, and black bags or clothing are harbingers of doom, black cats are considered lucky on the sea. Mostly this is believed to be the result of the opposite effect of land-based superstition, where a black cat is unlucky.
Our take: this is one of the stranger cruise superstitions and begs many questions. What is a cat doing out there? What if you’re on a river cruise? Would a rabbit’s foot be bad luck? Would breaking a mirror be seven years of good luck?

14)  Swallows seen at sea are a good sign.
Swallows are a land-based bird and seeing them at sea implies that land is near and your prospects are clear.
Our take: swallows are also a good sign at the lido bar… see what we did there?

15)  Dolphins swimming with the ship are a sign of good luck.
Dolphins are considered a sacred friend of fishermen, they have the good fortunes of man in mind and their presence indicates that you are under their protection.
Our take: also a sign of good luck for the dolphins… seeing as they’re not harnessed-up at the Nassau Dolphin Petting Zoo.

16)  It is unlucky to kill a gull.
They also contain the souls of sailors lost at sea.
Our take: geez… no albatross… no gull… I hope “Wild Turkey” isn’t on the list, because we just killed a bottle at the Lido Bar.


17)  Cutting your hair or nails at sea is bad luck.
Detail: These were used as offerings to Proserpina, and Neptune will become jealous if these offerings are made while in his kingdom.
Our take: as an addendum to this cruise superstition: …even worse luck doing so at the Lido Pool, Main Dining Room, or Nightclub.

18)  Church Bells heard at sea mean someone on the ship will die.
Our take:
what about those annoying announcement bells? 

19)  When the clothes of a dead sailor are worn by another sailor during the same voyage, misfortune will befall the entire ship.
Our take: 
 his one should be fairly easy to avoid… except maybe on this cruise.

20)  If the rim of a glass rings stop it quickly or there will be a shipwreck.
Our take: 
and if the purser rings… tell him I’m good. Also ask if he’ll take a check.

21)  Never say the word “Drown” while at sea.
Our take: 
also, don’t say “mustard station” – from the way people respond, I don’t think that’s how it’s pronounced.

22)  A shark following the ship is a sign of inevitable death.
Detail: Sharks were believed to be able to sense those near death.
Our take:  t’s true… at least, according to Shark Week.

If you have any good cruise superstitions of your own, please leave them below.

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