Do Cruise Ship Employees Sleep With Guests?

People go on a cruise because they want to have a good time. But how much of a good time are they having – and are they enjoying the crew’s company a little too much at the same time?

People on a cruise ship

A lot of cruise lines talk about how the crew are there to take care of anything a passenger needs, but that doesn’t mean they take care of ‘those needs’, does it?

Do cruise ship workers hook up with passengers?

Cruise ship workers are not supposed to hook up with passengers, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It is rare though – most crew follow the rules because they know they’ll lose their job if they’re caught.

Couple looking at the ocean view

You won’t be surprised to hear that cruise lines ban crew from having sex with passengers. It’s basic standards of professionalism really.

However, the question isn’t “are crew allowed to hook up with passengers?” – it’s whether or not they do it anyway.

And yes, some do.

Indeed one former cruise ship officer named Jay Herring, who used to work for Carnival Cruise Lines, has written a book called “The Truth About Cruise Ships” in which he gives details about the escapades (sexcapades?) of the crew with passengers.

Not only does he describe how it did happen, but that it happened enough to be given a nickname – “coning”, with the passengers referred to as cones.

In his book, he describes how the nickname either came from how passengers looked like neon traffic cones during boat drills, or how the passengers would eat everything in sight on a ship, just like the aliens in the 1993 film Coneheads.

Others online have spoken about it too, both former crew and passengers. A former photographer on a cruise ship explains how the rules have been in place for a long time, but they weren’t quite as strict:

Rule #2 is that when fraternizing with a guest, it’s never to be done in their stateroom

One element remains consistent – when crew do sleep with passengers, it doesn’t happen in the stateroom, but instead happens either in a public area of the ship away from cameras, or in the crew quarters.

To sneak you in, they give you a name badge with detailed instructions on how to make it to their room…

The fact that there is a nickname for the act of sleeping with passengers, and detailed plans that entail giving the passenger fake crew details, show that this isn’t something which only happens once in a blue moon.

That being said, guests shouldn’t expect to be able to proposition a crew member and be accepted. Most crew value their jobs and will turn down any advances for fear of being caught.

What happens to cruise crew members if they get caught fraternising with guests?

Crew members who are caught having sex with guests, or even fraternising with them in other ways such as kissing, will almost always be fired. For that reason, most crew follow the rules.

Bartender handing out  a drink

Cruise lines draw a very hard line against this kind of fraternising, and with good reason. So crew should expect to be fired very quickly if they are caught sleeping with a passenger.

That being said, Jay Herring does admit in his book that it would not always result in the termination of the crew’s contract.

He says “Getting caught did not guarantee that a crew member would get fired. There was a shade of grey, and politics governed such situations. A crew-ranked crew member was more likely to get fired than an officer. A male crew member might be more likely to get fired than a female crew member.

“If a passenger filed an official complaint, then it usually didn’t matter who it was because he or she would probably get fired, but otherwise it was at the direction of those who enforced the rules.

It’s worth bearing in mind that Herring’s book was written in 2011 and was about his past experiences, so these stories may not have even been recent then. And even in the past 20 years, cruise lines have really tightened up on the rules.

There’s another reason why crew don’t tend to sleep with passengers often too:

Mostly because there are plenty of crew members on board who are open to casual relationships. Little to no risk of getting fired there.

“Mostly because there are plenty of crew members on board who are open to casual relationships. Little to no risk of getting fired there.”

There are plenty of stories online from past (and some current) cruise ship crew that talk about how prevalent sex is with other crew members – and so there’s not really a need for the crew to pursue passengers. 

Because everyone lives in such close quarters, the crew often get it on with each other instead, and they can’t get fired for that (provided they do it when they aren’t on shift and in their own cabins).

Reasons Why Crew Are Banned From Fraternising With Guests

The obvious reason why the crew are banned from fraternising with guests is that it’s unprofessional.

Handsome cruise crew members

Cruise lines want to provide guests with a relaxing holiday that feels safe – and if crew were suddenly allowed to flirt with guests and perhaps take things further, it might please some passengers but most would be uncomfortable.

However, there’s another reason too. There was a trend of honey trapping – where guests would invite crew to have sex with them, and then falsely accuse them of sexual harassment in order to open up a lawsuit against the cruise line and potentially win huge settlements.

So it’s even more understandable why cruise lines ban crew from hooking up with guests – it’s to protect their own interests.

Final word

Yes, there are some incidents of cruise ship crew hooking up with passengers, but it’s extremely rare due to the severe consequences if the crew are caught.

So that’s good news if you want to avoid unwanted attention from crew during your cruise. And if you were hoping for a crew hookup as a passenger, you’ll need to try your luck with other guests instead.

There are plenty of singles cruises if that’s what you’re looking for.

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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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1 thought on “Do Cruise Ship Employees Sleep With Guests?”

  1. I know they sometimes sleep with passengers, because I had a yearlong relationship with a crew member in 1987 that began on a ship. An exciting time in my life, that fortunately is way behind me.

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