Study: 10% of Cruise Passengers Admit to Sex Outside Their Cabin; Cozumel Named Favorite Port

Feel like getting frisky on a cruise ship? Evidently you’re not alone. Exactly 10% of cruise passengers admit to having sex outside of their cabin, including on the ever popular balcony.

That’s not all. Nearly 15% of cruisers admit to having snuck alcohol onto a ship, which is frowned upon by the cruise lines. Meanwhile, Cozumel was voted the most popular port, while Freeport in The Bahamas was ranked as the least favorite to visit.

These results come courtesy of an annual survey just conducted by that peers into the thoughts of cruise passengers. In total, we surveyed nearly 300 cruisers on topics ranging from their favorite ports to if they’ve ever “hooked up” with other passengers on a cruise.

Some of what we found will surprise you…

The Survey

Last year, we conducted a simple survey to learn more about how people cruise. In this year’s survey we built upon last year’s data, keeping some questions, creating new questions, and pulling those that didn’t reveal much to our readers.

In total, the 2017-18 Cruiser’s Survey included 17 questions:

  1. In total, how many cruises have you sailed on?
  2. How much do you spend in total on your average cruise?
  3. How much money do you spend on alcohol during your cruise?
  4. Have you ever snuck alcohol onto a cruise ship?
  5. Which cruise line is your favorite to sail?
  6. What’s your favorite aspect of cruising?
  7. What do you find to be the biggest frustration about cruising?
  8. Which of the following frustrates you most about other cruise PASSENGERS?
  9. Do you normally tip in addition to automatic gratuities?
  10. Have you ever been a victim of a crime while on a cruise or in port?
  11. Which of the following tropical ports is your favorite to visit?
  12. Which of the following tropical ports is your LEAST favorite to visit?
  13. How do you normally purchase your cruise?
  14. Have you ever gotten sick on a cruise?
  15. Have you ever “hooked up” with a passenger on a cruise (whom you first met while on the ship)?
  16. Have you ever had sex on a cruise ship, outside of your cabin? (Balcony is considered outside your cabin)?
  17. Do you normally purchase travel insurance for your cruise?

Our survey was conducted over a two-week period in August 2017. The 17-question survey was conducted online in the United States, with a total of 293 respondents. The survey was open to anyone who wished to take it.

Key Findings

Throughout the results, we were consistently surprised by a number of answers to our survey. The following sum up the results of the answer we found the most interesting.

Most people spend less than $3,000 on the average cruise vacation.

The vast majority of cruise passengers report spending less than $3,000 in total on a cruise, including cruise fares, drinks, airfare, and excursions. In total, 67.3% reported spending under $3,000 on average.

Average amount spent on a cruise

Meanwhile, a surprising 15.9% of respondents reported spending less than $1,000 on the average cruise. And big spenders? Only 10.3% of those surveyed reported spending more than $5,000 on their average cruise.

More than 85% of people spend money on alcohol during their cruise.

Alcoholic beverages are a big money maker for the cruise lines, with 85.1% of passengers spending at least some money on drinks aboard the ship. A total of 22.9% of respondents report spending more than $200 on drinks during their average trip.

Average amount spend on alcohol on a cruise

Somewhat surprisingly, the greatest number of respondents said they spend less than $50 on alcohol during their average cruise.

Even so, cruise lines can make some serious cash on selling liquor. Consider that if each passenger spend $50 on average (some spend a lot more), then a ship with 4,000 guests could expect $200,000 in revenue from alcohol each trip.

Lots of passengers admit to having tried to sneak on alcohol

With so many people spending money on drinks during a cruise, it’s not a surprise that many of them have reported sneaking booze onto the cruise ship at one time or another. In total, 14.8% of cruise passengers admitted to smuggling on alcohol even though it’s against the rules. (Want to know what happens if you get caught? Click here.)

Sneaking alcohol on a cruise

While that may not sound like a lot of people, it does add up. If 14.8% of cruise passengers brought on alcohol each cruise, a 4,000 passenger ship would expect to have nearly 600 people bring on their own booze.

Most people say the all-inclusive aspect of cruising and visiting multiple places in a single vacation are their favorite things about cruising.

The reasons that people like to cruise are numerous, but in our survey two big reasons stood out — the “all-inclusive” aspect of the trip and visiting multiple places in a single trip. In total, 35.5% of those surveyed said the all-inclusive aspect of cruising was their favorite thing; 34.8% cited being able to visit multiple locations on one trip.

Favorite reasons for cruising

Only 6.6% said cruising being a cheap vacation was their top reason for liking to set sail, despite cruise lines constantly pushing cheap headline fares and running constant sales.

Passengers wish that the cruise ship spent more time in ports of call.

Of course, nothing is perfect. Cruises are no different. When we asked cruisers what their single biggest frustration with cruising is, the most popular response among the options listed was that there is too little time in ports. In total, 28.3% cited this as their biggest frustration.

Biggest frustrations about cruising

Time in ports was followed by having too many people on the ship (22.8%) and too many hidden fees or extra charges (14.7%). Surprisingly, only 5.5% of those surveyed cited excessive gratuities as the biggest frustration despite tipping always being a controversial topic.

Cruisers hate unsupervised children and chair hogs on the ship.

Ok, we all know that if you put 4,000 people together there are going to be some issues — no matter how large a ship you are sailing. That’s why we asked people what their biggest frustration was about other cruise passengers.

Dislikes about cruise passengers

Among the options given, the two most popular answers were guests leaving children unsupervised on the ship (35.2%) and hogging deck chairs (29.9%). Another popular response was passengers being verbally rude to staff or other passengers (17.8%)

The majority of passengers tip in addition to automatic gratuities.

Tipping on a cruise is one of the most controversial topics. While nearly everyone agrees that good service deserves recognition, many people don’t like feeling “forced” into gratuities. It turns out, however, that most passengers actually go above and beyond.

Cruise ship tipping statistics

Among those surveyed, 89.7% said they tip in addition to automatic gratuities at least some of the time. Only 10.3% said they never give additional tips.

Cruise passengers report rarely being victims of crime in port or on the ship.

While cruising is generally safe, it’s important to know that cruise ports can be in places where crime is common. For the vast majority of passengers, simply keeping your wits about you, not being flashy or showy with money and jewelry, and being aware of your surroundings is enough to keep you safe.

Crime statistics on cruise ship

Among those surveyed, an overwhelming majority — 99.7% — reported never having been a victim of crime while on a cruise or in port. That should be reassuring to anyone worried about crime on their cruise.

Cozumel is the favorite Caribbean port among those surveyed.

We asked which tropical port was the favorite among cruise passengers. Cozumel was the clear winner, with 24.5% of responses. Following behind were St. Thomas (12.2%) and Grand Cayman (11.2%). Note that ports in other parts of the world, including Alaska, weren’t listed in this survey.

Favorite cruise ports

Ports in The Bahamas ranked as the least favorite among cruise passengers.

In addition to asking about favorite ports, we also asked which ports passengers like the least. Again, the options included only those ports in the Caribbean and Bahamas that are most frequently visited.

Least favorite cruise ports

Freeport and Nassau in The Bahamas were voted the least favorite ports, earning 17.5% and 16.7% of the vote, respectively. Oddly enough, Cozumel came in third with 12.0% of respondents calling it their least favorite port.

Nearly a quarter of passengers report having been sick on a cruise

In our survey we asked passengers if they have ever gotten sick on a cruise. We did not differentiate between seasickness or other types of illness.

People getting sick on a cruise

Surprisingly, 24.5% of those surveyed reported being sick on a cruise before. Whether that’s seasickness or some other illness is still a mystery. No matter, it’s still a high number of people being ill on their vacation.

Hook-ups are uncommon among most passengers, but do occur.

Now for something really juicy. If you’re a single cruiser, then it’s likely crossed your mind that you might have a fun vacation romance with another passenger. The reality is that these sorts of trysts are pretty rare.

Hooking up on a cruise ship stat

In our survey, only 5.5% of people reported ever “hooking up” with another passenger on a cruise, whom they first met while on the ship. This shouldn’t be that surprising since it’s rare for most people to cruise solo. Couple and families make up the largest portion of passengers, where the opportunity to get busy with other passenger isn’t available.

A surprising amount of people get “busy”… outside the cabin

Let’s face it, something about cruises can put people in the mood. Maybe it’s the warm sun that brings out the skimpy swimsuits. Or maybe it’s the free-flowing alcohol, or just the fact that everyone is in a good mood on vacation.

Whatever the reason, people are getting frisky and they are often doing it outside of the cabin. According to those surveyed, 10.0% admitted to having sex outside of the cabin — including on the balcony.

Sex on a cruise statistics

If you decide to get romantic outside the room, just be careful. There are cameras nearly everywhere on the ship (excluding balconies) and you’re likely to be seen. Read more about sex on cruise balconies here.

Most people take advantage of purchasing travel insurance

If the news from Hurricane Harvey taught cruisers anything, it’s that travel insurance can be a lifesaver if there is a disruption with your trip. That point seems to be well taken among those answering our survey.

Travel insurance on a cruise

A total of 46.7% of people said they always buy travel insurance, and another 23.4% said they purchase it sometimes. Only 29.9% said they never purchase travel insurance. Read our primer on purchasing travel insurance here.


Our survey results shed some light on topics that many cruisers had always wondered, but never been able to get a clear answer. Yes, people sneak alcohol on the ships regularly, and it’s not uncommon for them to get frisky somewhere on the ship, away from the cabin. Passengers love Cozumel, but largely don’t like ports in The Bahamas. And despite cruises always being advertised with cheap headline fares, the total cost for most adds up to thousands of dollars.

All in all, we’re happy to be able to finally have some hard data to give more insight into what cruise passengers think and how they act.

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