What Happens if You Stowaway on a Cruise Ship?

By Michael Ferguson

Stowaways are people who hide on a ship, airplane, or other mode of transportation in order to travel without paying. Stowing away on a cruise ship is particularly dangerous because there is nowhere to hide and the consequences can be dire.

Cruise ships are large vessels with limited space and a finite number of passengers and crew. As such, stowaways are easily spotted and quickly removed from the ship by crew members. In addition, cruise ships have tight security systems that include surveillance cameras, motion detectors, and other security measures that make it difficult for stowaways to remain undetected.

Once discovered, stowaways face serious consequences. Depending on the country in which the ship is registered, they may be prosecuted for illegally entering the vessel or for theft of services.

They may also be charged with trespassing or smuggling if they attempted to bring contraband onto the vessel. Moreover, if they are found to be in possession of drugs or weapons they could face even harsher penalties.

The Risks

In addition to legal repercussions, stowaways also face physical risks when trying to board a cruise ship. The flow of water around a vessel at sea creates powerful currents that can easily sweep away an individual attempting to swim or cling onto a ship’s hull or mooring lines.

Furthermore, if they manage to get onboard undetected they risk being injured by moving machinery and other hazards onboard the vessel.


Stowing away on a cruise ship is not only illegal but also extremely dangerous due to tight security measures and hazardous conditions onboard vessels at sea. Stowaways risk being arrested, fined, or even worse if caught while attempting to board a cruise ship without permission or payment.