Ex-Cruise Ship Worker Exposes One Disturbing Reason Cruises Throw Ice Cream Parties

The free-flowing food on all-inclusive cruises is one of the perks that makes a vacation at sea so exciting. There are the all-day cruise buffets, the generous drink packages, and, sometimes, a spontaneous ice cream party with all your favorite flavors.

However, you might lose your appetite for the cold dessert if you knew the real reason it was being served — at least according to one TikToker. A singer and content creator named Dara Starr Tucker, who used to work as a singer on cruises, claimed in a viral video that ship staff will sometimes throw ice cream parties to make space in the freezer for dead bodies. Yep, you read that correctly.

The video was in response to another user, who commented about the ice cream party rumor. "This is unfortunately often true," Tucker began the clip, which has earned 2.7 million views and counting. She continued, "If the crew suddenly makes a bunch of ice cream available to the passengers, 'free ice cream party,' it is often because more people have died on the ship than they have room for in the morgue."

Is the claim true?

Dara Starr Tucker's video triggered a range of reactions from viewers, including disbelief from some who doubted the claim. One part of the TikTok clip that people quickly poked holes in was Tucker's claim that between four and 10 people die during every cruise. The ex-cruise ship worker explained that a lot of cruises are filled with elderly passengers, who are at higher risk of dying from natural causes. She then noted that the morgue usually fits only seven bodies — not enough for all journeys. However, a 2020 study published in the International Journal of Travel Medicine and Global Health found that only 623 reported deaths occurred between 2000 and 2019, making Tucker's stats seem unlikely.

Still, some people support the ice cream party theory. One of the video's top comments reads, "Cruise ship medic here. Can confirm the morgue and ice cream correlation." Former cruise staff Jay Herring also echoed the claim in his book "The Truth About Cruise Ships." Herring wrote, "[S]ometimes the number of bodies exceed the morgue's capacity and the walk-in food freezers have to be used. One time a chef rolled some meat out of the freezer and unwrapped it to find a human foot poking out. A body had been stored there but no one had told him."

What happens when a passenger dies on a cruise

Not all cruise lines follow the same exact procedure when dealing with an onboard death, but there are a few common steps. First, if the death was unexpected or the cause is unknown, the ship's medical staff will often examine the body to rule out contagious illnesses that could spread to other people on the ship. The family will be notified, and if the deceased passenger has friends or family on board, they will likely be matched with a designated staff member, who will help them arrange the repatriation of the body.

Just as Dara Starr Tucker shared, there are morgues on larger ships, which are designed to store multiple bodies. Smaller ships may not offer the same space, and if someone dies, they'll likely be placed in another temperature-controlled room until they can be removed from the ship at a port.

With that said, using food storage units doesn't seem to be a typical practice, as the TikTok creator suggested. In 2023, a family sued Celebrity Cruises after the company kept their loved one in a cooler following a fatal cardiac event. The cooler was deemed insufficient for keeping the body, which had started to decompose before being removed from the ship six days later.