Bed bugs are gifted hitchhikers with the annoying ability to spread from one place to another. They stow away on unsuspecting people’s clothes and personal items in search of a host to feed. Bed bugs’ sensitivity to carbon dioxide, heat, and even pheromones allows them to track humans and feed in the dark.

Bedbugs’ adaptive and unpredictable nature has allowed them to survive endless attacks from humans and adverse weather conditions. Even cruise ships are now at risk of bed bug infestations. If you plan to go on cruise ships, the article provides more information on handling bed bugs.

Are there bed bugs on your cruise ship?

Bed bugs on cruise ships are not a common occurrence. Cruise ship companies aim to ensure comfort and luxury. Usually, the beds are cleaned and fumigated in readiness for the next guest. Clothes and other washables are laundered and dried at the highest setting to kill any potential bed bugs on board.

Large crowds increase the risk of getting bed bugs on a cruise ship

According to bed bug statistics, cruise ships take the 10th spot in the spaces with bed bug infestations. Bed bug presence is not associated with cleanliness or lack thereof. Frequent travelers shared accommodations, and small cabins make cruise ships a haven for these bugs.

An actress sues Princess cruises for bed bug harm

There are complaints about ships having bed bugs. In 2020, The USA Today reported on an actress going public about being bitten by bed bugs in Princess Cruises. The cruise hive travel website also featured a YouTube star who encountered bed bugs. If you do an online search on Trip Advisor, you will discover several complaints of bed bug experiences.

How bed bugs get onboard a cruise ship

Cruise ships are among the top vacation preferences for many folks. The luxury, and a wide array of food, socialization, and entertainment, appeal to many. Admittedly, cruise ships are now more popular than ever. These cruise ships aim for good public relations through timed and personal service and regular cleaning to attract more clients. One key question is how bed bugs infest such hygienic environments.

As mentioned before, bed bugs are not exclusive to dirty environments. They infest indiscriminately. The socialization and significant movement of people and the complicated physical structure of cruise ships cause and worsen the situation. On your cruises, you will come into contact with many people. It is impossible to know an infested person at face value. So, even with the utmost keenness, being 100% proof of bed bugs is impossible.

Cruise ships are hotels on the water with people crammed into confined spaces with loud music. Imagine quickly cleaning the tiny sleeping cabins packed with luggage, people, and sleeping cabins. You cannot control passengers, their activities, and their movements. These small crowded places provide a suitable ground for bed bugs to thrive and multiply rapidly.

Inspecting for bed bugs in your cruise ship

Cruise ships were and still are popular travel and vacation destinations. Before you despair, you still have efforts you can make to be safe from bed bugs while enjoying that cruise. It just calls for mindful relaxation. Before booking a cruise, comb through the internet for critics, complaints, and comments from people who have used the cruise ship before. Remember to look for how cruise ships handle complaints about bed bugs.

After picking a cruise line of your liking, the first thing on arrival is to check for signs of bed bugs in your sleeping cabin. These signs are common for all places with bed bugs. They include:

Red- rusty blood spots on sheets and furniture

The red spots are undigested blood in bed bug feces. You will often find these spots on bed frames and headboards.

Bed bug exoskeletons

Bed bug nymphs molt about five times before emerging as adults. The exoskeletons range from pale white to yellow or brown, depending on age.

Blood stains

You may wake up with tiny blood spots on your sheets. These could be from the accidental crushing of an engorged bed bug. Alternatively, you could be bleeding from excessive scratching of bed bug bites.

Live bed bugs

A single bed bug on your sheets could signify a more significant infestation. If you are lucky, it is a single isolated case that hitch-hiked from another person or area. They will usually be clustered around an infestation zone during the day.

Musty sweet berry-like smell

This scent points to a significant bed bug problem. On smelling it, report to the stewards immediately. However, it is doubtful that an infestation will worsen to this point before being spotted by the cleaning crew.

In your inspection, concentrate on the headboard, mattress seams and folds, bed and furniture joints, grooves, cracks, and crevices on the wall and floor. It makes your work a little easier to light up the place. Other tools that you would need include:

  • A flashlight
  • White cardboard or paper
  • Scraper
  • Magnifying glass
  • A specimen paper bag or container to carry samples

What to do if there are bed bugs in your cabin

At this point, you may have positively identified a bed bug infestation. You must keep calm. Any mistake could lead to you carrying them on your person or personal belongings. Once this is done, follow the following steps:

  1. Immediately report the problem to the cabin steward
  2. If necessary, seek medical help from the cruise ship’s medical personnel
  3. Isolate the belongings or clothes that you slept or wore at the cabin. Put them in a sealable plastic bag.
  4. If the ship is packed to the brim, wait until the thorough treatment has been done. Even then, carry out another inspection. Request for a new room if available.
  5. Wash all your washable belongings in hot scalding water but don’t ruin your fabric.

Collecting samples of the bed bugs in your specimen container or plastic bag would be wise. You may need them as evidence to show the cruise ship crew. They will also come in handy if you choose to ask for compensation or sue. There are situations where cruise ship companies are reluctant to act on a complaint or fail to believe you.

How to avoid getting bed bugs from a cruise ship

There is no fail-proof way to avoid getting bed bugs anywhere, including a cruise ship. Nonetheless, the following tips can help minimize the risk of acquiring bed bugs on a cruise ship:

Avoid placing your bag and luggage on the bed

The beds are the most likely places to have bed bugs. Placing your belongings on them allows bed bugs to hitchhike on them. Instead, any above-ground space, like the luggage rack or hanging pins, would serve you better.

Separate the outdoor clothes from your cabin clothes

Most infestations are started through contact with infected people. You cannot possibly tell if a person has bed bugs. To avoid carrying the bugs to your cabin, remove the outdoor ones and put them in a sealable plastic bag. Then wear fresh ones inside your cabin.

Washing and drying at high temperatures

Ask that your bed sheets and clothes be laundered at hot temperatures. At extreme temperatures, bed bugs and their eggs will die.

Avoid carrying unnecessary belongings.

You should pack light for a cruise ship vacation. The bigger the bag, the more likely you will carry bed bugs back home. Remember that after the trip, you will return to your home.

Pack your items in separate sealable plastic bags inside your suitcase

Have your shoes in a separate plastic bag from your clothes. Pack your pajamas separately from your outdoor garments. Pack the contents in small plastic bags, even if you have a single suitcase. This minimizes the chances of transmitting bed bugs and their eggs from one item to another.

Keep your suitcase zipped up at all times.

Having your suitcase closed will prevent bed bugs from sneaking inside. It also reduces hiding spots making it easier to spot them during the inspection. For regular travelers, invest in a bed bug suitcase. They can be found at online retail stores.

Final thoughts

Cruise ships are getting bed bugs increasingly because of the increased movement of people, cramped space, and complicated physical structure. Take time to comb through your cabin for signs of infestation and report any sightings. It falls on you to practice safety and consciousness. Stay safe, and most of all, have fun.


Can you sue a cruise liner if you get bed bugs?

Yes. You may seek compensation for health costs, damaged or lost property, and mental suffering due to bed bugs.

Does a cruise ship offer free treatment when bugs bite you in your cabin?

Most crew ships will treat you at your own cost unless you have travel insurance.

Does a cruise ship provide laundry services to help against bed bugs?

Laundry services vary. Many cruise ship companies will only clean your room but leave you to launder your garments. However, some have a crew to clean all your necessary belongings.