Bringing this Food Item on Board a Cruise Ship Could Ruin Your Holiday!

Imagine setting sail on your long-awaited cruise, ready for days of relaxation. But nestled in your luggage is a potential stowaway of misfortune – a humble banana.

This might sound silly, but a long-standing maritime superstition paints this yellow fruit as the ultimate jinx for seafaring journeys.

The Origins of the Banana Curse

The banana’s bad reputation at sea stretches back to the 1700s. Historical records show a peculiar pattern: ships transporting bananas from the Caribbean and South America had a worrying tendency to disappear or meet disastrous ends.

Sailors, desperate for an explanation, latched onto the one common factor – the presence of bananas.

Ship transporting bananas from the Caribbean in the 1700s

Since then, bananas have been known as a bad omen on ships. And think about it, when was the last time you saw a banana at a cruise ship buffet?

Apples? Yes. Oranges? Yes. Kiwis? Yes. But you’ll very rarely see a banana.

While bananas may not be in the buffet, there probably are some on your ship. Just like grapes and strawberries, they’re saved to make desserts or to put in the fruit bowls of suite guests. These fruits are too expensive to give them out willy-nilly!

Welcome fruiy bowl and canapes on Norwegian Encore.

There were a few practical reasons behind the fear of bananas at sea:

The Ripening Agent

Bananas release ethylene gas, a natural hormone that triggers ripening in nearby fruits. This is handy if you want your avocados to soften faster in the fruit bowl, but not so good if you have a long voyage with limited supplies of fresh food.

With limited refrigeration on ships in the past, the presence of bananas could lead to entire food supplies spoiling prematurely and sailors going hungry.

fruit pot in the buffet on a cruise

Dangerous Stowaways

The warm, humid environment of banana shipments provided a perfect haven for venomous spiders and snakes.

Crew members unfortunate enough to be bitten faced limited treatment options far out at sea. So to keep the killer bugs off the ship, bananas weren’t allowed on board either.

a snake hiding in a banana tree

Modern Times: Superstition vs. Science

Today, with advanced food storage and pest control, the banana’s curse seems a quaint relic of the past. Yet, the superstition lingers.

Why? Because a good story, even a superstitious one, has remarkable staying power. There’s a certain thrill in upholding a tradition steeped in seafaring history.

Bananas on Your Cruise: The Real Risks

While your cruise ship is unlikely to sink due to a banana-induced curse, there are still minor inconveniences to consider:

  • Cruise Line Rules: Most cruise lines only let you bring pre-packed food on board. So dried banana chips would be fine, but fresh bananas will likely be confiscated.
  • The Fruity Fly Magnet: Overripe bananas are notorious for attracting fruit flies, potentially turning your cabin into an unwelcome insect haven.
  • Respecting the Tradition: Some cruise lines or long-time crew members may still uphold the superstition.
Cruise ship security guard

To Banana or Not to Banana?

The decision is yours. The risk is minimal, but being aware of the superstition adds a layer of cultural understanding to your cruise experience. If you have any doubts, there are plenty of other delicious and ship-friendly snacks.


The banana superstition is a fascinating mix of history, practicality, and a sprinkle of the unexplainable.

So, next time you pack for your cruise adventure, you might want to double-check your fruit bowl. And hey, if a bit of unexpected turbulence or a misplaced beach towel occurs during your trip, don’t be afraid to playfully blame it on the bananas!


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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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