Cruise ships offer passengers an adventure at sea, chock-full of drinking, music, sunshine and laughter. Companies like Carnival deliver on that promise to millions of vacationers every year. But recent data suggests that there are more mishaps on these whirlwind adventures than many cruise lines want you to know. In honor of the Hellish nightmare that the passengers of Carnival’s Triumph endured in February, these are the worst of worst-case vacation scenarios, from least to most horrible.
1. Power Outages
Loss of power while at sea is fairly common on cruise ships and usually doesn’t last too long. Being adrift isn’t much more than an inconvenience, bringing everything to a standstill, so break out a book or a game of Monopoly until the lights come back on.
2. Overflowing Toilets
Actually, bad plumbing is pretty standard fare on cruise ships. Because most cruise lines use vacuum toilets, every cabin is at the mercy of every other cabin — if one idiot flushes something other than waste, all the cabins below suffer. Gross, yes, but not life threatening. Call for customer service, and you’ll be fine.
3. Outbreak of Fire
According to the New York Times, there were approximately 80 reported fires onboard cruise ships between 1973 and 2011. Although these fires are usually extinguished without serious injury, the fact that they’re so common is cause enough for concern. Statistically, you’re more likely to get through your cruise without facing a fire. On the other hand, do you really want to risk having to stop drop and roll in a speedo or bikini?
4. Running Aground
Guess what—even more ships run aground each year than catch on fire — about 2.5, according to the New York Times. The good news is that you’re not likely to get injured in an accident like that; the bad news is that ships that run aground will likely be evacuated and your vacation cut drastically short.
5. Forced Evacuation
Cruise ships can be evacuated for any number of reasons: fire, extended power outages and sinking, to name a few. Rarely do accidents or injuries occur during evacuation. It’s hard to be sure whether to be comforted or disturbed that cruise lines have perfected the art of abandoning ship. (Learn more about cruise ship accidents here)
It’s easy to forget that spectacular, glittery cruise ships really are just big boats, but they can sink just as easily as a fishing dinghy. Well—maybe not just as easily, but it does happen. Far and away, the most frightening accident on this list is a sinking ship. Although updated safety regulations and procedures ensure that risk of injury is as low as possible, it’s probably best not to test your luck. If, after all this muckraking, you’re still willing and ready to head out on the open seas, good for you! Just remember that if anything does go wrong, don’t play nice.