Itchy and Scratchy: Are There Bed Bugs on Your Cruise Ship?

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26 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
The picture of the bug in the article doesn't look like a bed bug to me. Seems to look more like the brown mammorated (sp?) stink bug that has been plaguing the US for the past year or two..
107,618 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Thanks for the article.

But that bug in the pciture -- it is definitely a stink bug!! We got them by the thousands this past August, September and Ocotber. Couldn't even sit outside.

As for bed bugs -- just hope we don't get them on a cruise ship -- or for that matter in a hotel.
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Cruising is a wonderful way to enjoy retirement!
Stopped counting a few years ago -- have done over 140 cruises.
6 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
That is what I said, "that is a stink bug, not a bed bug." So if you find them in your cabin and all cabins are full, you get to spend your vacation with them I guess??

I've also read on this site, if you treat your luggage before your trip, you can prevent picking them up along the way from other luggage on the plane.
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New York & South Florida
636 Posts
Joined May 2006
Originally posted by LauraS
Cruise Critic has just posted the following news:

Itchy and Scratchy: Are There Bed Bugs on Your Cruise Ship?

Read the entire news article...
What I've found is prevention is most important. Taking a cruise in the winter months with the cold weather is easier to kill these critters because the cold kills them. One suggestion I was recommended to do and suggest is to keep your suitcases in your car outside the day you come home from the cruise and keep the luggage there for at least a few days before bringing it in your home. The cold temps are suppose to kill them so you won't spread them in your home just in case they traveled home with you.
3,647 Posts
Joined Jun 2000
How interesting - Jewel of the Sea were mentioned.
We had bed bugs experience on JOS last October sailing. Reported to the Guest relations and our steward. They said that they checked all cabin ( not sure how) and found nothing, but they sanitised the cabin.
After that we didn't have anymore additional incidents.
We got numerous follow up call from the Guest relations, asking how is everything. Well, then, I didn't know there were outbreak in 2005. They gave us a dinner at the specialty restaurant and apologies.
Brooklyn, New York City. USA
962 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Well, I hate to post this, but yes I was bitten by a bedbug on my last cruise.

And, the bug in the picture needs to be changed to a real bedbug its a stinkbug and they do not bite.

I had a bed bug infestation in my apartment so I know exactly what to look for and I know exactly the reaction I get with the bites, which are severe for me. I can assure you that I was 2 1/2 years bedbug free prior to taking my last cruise and now over 3 years without bedbugs, but I am vigilant. My neighbor had them and they came into my apartment from under the wall. It was a small infestation and eradicated.

I was on the Carnival Miracle in July, 2010. I recieved ONE bite in a row of 3 (a very typical bed bug pattern) on the 2nd day out at sea. My son and I ripped apart our cabin. We removed all the bedding, removed the headboard, turned the bed frame around, checked everywhere near the bed. We removed the pictures and the electrical switchplate that had some form of debri inside it that "could have" been remnant signs of BB. They leave behind feces and many other telltale signs. We taped up the electrical plate to take no chances. As far as we could see the room was bedbug free.

I got bit, I believe in the theater. The bite was right near my knee. Perfect site for a bug to come out from under a seat, bite you, then go back to its hiding place. The bite was typical of bedbug bites I have received in the past and the reaction was exactly the same as Ive received in the past that is why I know it was a bb bite. Once you have been bitten by these spawn of the devil and you experience what the bites are like, you never forget and for me, they do not mimic mosquitoe bites or hives, they have a distinct bite mark and reactionl. I reported it to the main desk and told them that I had ripped apart my room and found nothing but kept the tape on the electric plate. They inspected the room and like me found nothing, but said they would treat the electric plate area. I said, not until I leave please, its totally taped and nothing could get out. I told them that I believe a seat in the theater was the culprit and a very likely place for bedbugs. They love the dark and they love upolstery and it always has a human host for them to feed on. The problem is, what if they hitchhike on you back to you cabin.. That is how they got there in the first place.. They hitchhike on your clothes. Thats is how we got them everywhere in NYC. Department stores, movie theaters, office buildings, schools. They are everywhere in New York City. Even the subway platforms on the wooden benches. Some people do not get reaction to BB bites. That is bad because you can have an infestation and not know it. 50% of the population does not get a reaction to bites and that is part of the problem.

I hope Carnival took measures to check the theater. I told my travel agent as well and will not go back on that ship.

I now encase all my luggae in BB encasements especially if you store them under the bed in the cabin.

I knew it would be a matter of time for BB to be on ships. Afterall, NYC is ground zero for BB. There is an very education site bedbugger dot com. Educate yourself on these horrible insects, that is the best advice. They do not discriminate between clean and dirty. They are bloodsucking insects and only want to feed on humans unlike other pest insects that go for food. We are the food.

I knew this topic would eventually make it to Cruise Critic. I did not want to make a thread because I did not have physical evidence of a bug from the ship, but I did mention in my trip report that I did get one bite while onboard the ship and I did bring it to the ships attention and my travel agent.

I am a long time member of cruise critic. I do hope the cruise lines take this seriously. I knew that they could not treat the theater while we were sailing. Probably had to be done during dry dock. Each seat would have had to be treated.
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SFBay and Sacramento CA area
42 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
The most effective treatment are sprays with permethrin. Other chemicals that work contain bifenthrin and tralomethrin. These are all synthetic versions of pyrethrin, a natural plant oil from African daiies, which also works but less so and usually are much more smelly. Try them out at home first to be sure you can stand the odor, if any, and that you are not allergic to the product.
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1 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
We were on Carnival Legend December 5-12 with no problems with bedbugs.

If you get bitten by bedbugs on a cruise, in all reality, you more than likely picked them up from your airline seat before getting on the ship and carried them on yourself!

Of course, if you spend 3 - 10 days on the ship, you'll want to blame them when you could've been the reason they even have them. I would be more worried about seats in airports and airplanes than the beds on the ships.
Adelaide South Australia
3 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
Unfortunately we had a bad experience with bed bugs. Not only did we get bitten, the hotels we stayed in and the ship we sailed on all denied bed bugs resided with them.

Most of our clothing was destroyed by the ship, but after a lengthy process it paid for all replacements.

If you ever have the unfortunate experince of being bitten, do not let anyone boil or wash your belongings in hot water to destroy the bugs and eggs. (The bugs can live for months without a feed and the eggs up to twelve months)

From what we learnt on the net, the best way of killing the bugs and eggs is to place your clothes in plastic bags and freeze them at below -25 degrees centigrade for 24 hours. Dont forget shoes, hand bags etc.

As for larger items like suit cases, back packs etc., spray all surfaces inside and out with a strong bug killer and then seal within plastic bags for 24 hours.

Your camera:- it also may have bugs or eggs on it. We woud not suggest freezing, but it also needs to be treated. Extra care must be taken in spraying it, but placing it in a plastic bag which has had the inside sprayed and then sealing it should assist. There would be no problem with freeezing the camera bag.

After our experience we now always check the beds in hotels and ships for signs. Look in all the creases, folds and piping of the mattress for the critters who can hide not only in beds, but behind the bed board, skirting boards and other places.

We suggest using a google search to learn what to look for.

Do not ever put your bags on your bed as they could have picked up the problem from your last hotel or ship, no matter how clean and new it looked. Your case can also collect them from the floor of a lift, boot of a taxi or even a case next to yours in a bus, airline, ship or hotel baggage hold.

Hope the above helps, but do not let it put you off travelling.

Happy and safe journeys

Northern California
16,280 Posts
Joined Jan 2002
1. As already stated, that's not a photo of a bedbug.
2. Cruise ships do not "fumigate" individual cabins, they "fog" them. The distinction is minor to most individuals, but the pesticides used for fumigations are much different...and cannot be used on a single cabin, only an entire structure. There are some new and interesting treatments for bedbugs out now, including the new dry ice wands which use no pesticides, and can be used everywhere in a cruise shhip cabin, including the electrical outlets and electronics.
3. The statement from Royal Caribbean says they provide a luggage rack...we have never seen one in any of our staterooms. And you also mention a thick pad for unpacking...I can't say we've ever seen one of those either?

You probably have a better chance of winning a significant lottery prize...but bedbugs do occur. Have a good look around. Check your mattress and seams before you unpack. And keep your luggage closed/zipped up if you store it under the bed.

PS. You can apply pesticide products to your own luggage if you must. You are not allowed to apply, nor should you apply anything to other people's property. Think about your own health and that of persons who might follow you in that room or cabin. You should just notify guest relations or management.
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Cranford, NJ
23 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
Here I thought the luggage mats that were placed on our stateroom beds were to merely keep off mud, dirt, dust or any other conceivable debris from getting on the bed.
metro Phila.
126 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
With DDT no longer available, the one thing that kills bed bugs is heat. They cannot survive at a temperature of 115 degrees and above, which kills the bugs and (importantly) their eggs. They seem impervious to most common insecticides, but they hate light. Once, when staying in a NYC hotel that I discovered was bed-bug infested, I slept on top of the bedding with all the lights turned on. The bed bugs stayed in the dark, and I stayed in the light
with no bites.
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Winter Park, FL
9 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
My husband took his employees on a cruise mid January on the Radiance of the Seas out of Tampa. One of his employees had bed bugs in her cabin and was bitten repeatedly.

They moved her from a balcony to an interior cabin, and offered no other compensation. She went back to her old cabin once and they had removed the mattress, curtains and all fabric out of the cabin.

She now has an infestation at her house and has to replace her mattress and have her home fumigated!!
73 Posts
Joined May 2005
Many cruise ship companies are using Canine Bed Bug Locator dogs to find and sniff out bed bugs. These canines are used in hotels, municipalities, apartment complexes. They sniff out bed bugs just like dogs sniff out drugs, bodies. These dogs must be certified. Canine Bed Bug Locators, LLC.
73 Posts
Joined May 2005
Try keeping your suitcases in the bathtub when you travel. Bed Bugs do not like the tile surfaces, as they like to nestle in warm, bedding, and it is hard for them to crawl up a slippery surface to get to your suitcase. When you return home, if possible, leave your suitcases outside on your deck or terrace until you get to go through each article of clothing, and then put them in the hot dryer for at least 45 min to 1 hour, as they cannot live in extreme heat. Even if you have not worn your clothes and shoes, put them in the dryer. Then vacume your suitcases out with a nylon sock on the nozzle to see if you got any bed bugs caught.
Adelaide South Australia
3 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
We have never won a small lottery prize, but we sure have been bitten by bed bugs.

Our cabin was stripped of curtains, carpet, mattress, bed clothes, bed head and other padding. The whole cabin was sprayed, including our cases and bags. We were not allowed to return to it for almost twelve hours. Nearby cabins were not treated but from what we now know they should have been.

In any case heat is not recommended to kill the eggs and bugs that may be in clothing as the high and prolonged temperatures required will shrink many items.