The Dark Rumor Behind Free Ice Cream Parties On Cruise Ships

People that have taken cruises know there are certain features and perks that can pretty much be expected on any sea journey. Meals, entertainment, activities, pools, and fitness centers are typically included in the price of a ticket. But, sometimes, the crew will surprise guests with unexpected benefits like an impromptu ice cream party. 


There is certainly plenty to go around; according to CNN Travel, Royal Caribbean's gigantic Symphony of the Seas cruise ship stocks 700 pounds of ice cream for up to 8,800 passengers and crew during a seven-day journey (just one more way people can eat a lot on cruises). But, as it turns out, unexpected ice cream parties could have a darker undertone than just a captain who is feeling generous.

One TikToker went viral in early 2024 when she posted a brief video about the purported real reason cruise ships throw these types of sweet soirees. The former cruise ship singer claimed that, in the event that too many people die while aboard a ship, and the morgue is full (yes, cruise ships have morgues), the staff must make room for the extra bodies by emptying out ice cream freezers. 



Replying to @🌼🐛Ramen Goblin🐝🍀 #cruiseship #cruiseshiplife #cruiseshiptales

♬ original sound – Dara Starr Tucker

She also said that, alarmingly, anywhere between four and 10 people will pass away during any given cruise, and that onboard morgues hold about seven bodies. So, per her math, if the count is on the higher end, adjustments will need to be made, and it's often in the form of divvying out free ice cream.

Not everyone is convinced by the math

The TikTok video from early 2024 gained plenty of comments from followers. Some were shocked, others corroborated the claim, and still others said that throwing ice cream parties to make space for deceased bodies was complete farce. In the aftermath of the short clip, YouTube page, @HighSeasCruising, posted its own video, debunking the claim, largely by using simple math. 


As they said, the number of people who die annually on cruises is around 200, and most of these individuals die from natural causes due to old age. The YouTuber is also skeptical of the TikTok video because, as it points out, the original poster worked in the entertainment department, not the medical nor food service departments, and thus, they noted, didn't experience the workings of those areas first-hand.

The Street mirrored the skepticism, claiming that the number of deaths that happen on cruise ships are closer to three to four per week (not per cruise). A study conducted by Bowling Green University suggested the numbers are even lower, finding that, between the years of 2000 and 2019, there were 623 reported deaths on cruise ships, coming out to about 33 deaths per year. 


Regardless, cruise ships have very specific protocols for any onboard deaths, and the staff is trained to handle such sensitive situations with dignity — not with ice cream freezers.