Cruises Can Be Murder**

by Jackie Houchin

(**See disclaimer at the end)

Ahoy there Maties! Have ye sailed the Seven Seas yet?  What’s stoppin’ ye?  Oh… murder!  That!

In January my Hubby and I went on the most amazing 15-day cruise from Florida to Los Angeles by way of the Panama Canal.

What made it amazing?

IMG_5504The Canal transit, of course!! (#1 on Hubby’s bucket list), But the perfect sunny weather, the deep blue sea(s), the small, uncrowded ship (just 670 passengers), the funny and very personable Captain, the amenities (food, lounges,  gorgeous library, spa, pool, Internet café, crafts & games, casino, theater), our beautiful cabin with a balcony (oh, the views!), breakfast in bed, the lack of crowds and lines, the cool excursions in Aruba, Costa Rica, and Chiapas and Cabo San Lucas in Mexico were all definitely fantastic.

IMG_5214(Yes, we are in our 70’s, but we had a blast zip-lining in the Rain Forest!)

If EVER you go on a sea cruise, be sure to book passage on a small ship (unless you have kids). The Princess line has only one, and the Oceania Line has just three. And yes, they can and do travel around the world in 111-195 days. (I’m still dreaming of that!)


IMG_5638Imagine, if you will, 4-6 months in luxury, with everything taken care of for you, the occasional excursion ashore, time spent in one of several lounges or the library or your room, even out on the balcony with a laptop, with a bunch of characters eager to do malice, and a twisted mystery plot to direct them!

Yep, I could write a book on a World Cruise.*  (sigh)  Oh, yeah, writing and books, that’s what this blog is about…


Since we’ve come home, I have noticed the abundance of mysteries aboard ships.  There are the dark ones like The Poseidon Adventure by Paul Gallico, Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys, The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, Birds of Pray by J.A. Jance, and Death on The Nile by Agatha Christie.  (Perhaps you’ve read a few.)

On Goodreads, there is a list of 47 Cruise Ship mysteries/adventures for Young Adults and Kids, including some with the new Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, and the Boxcar Kids.

And of course, the cozy and humorous mysteries; Killer Cruise by Laura Levine, Cruising for Love by Tami Cowden, Princess Charming by Jane Haller, and Murder on the Oceana by Elizabeth Martin.  Whew!!  With all that written murder, mystery, and danger, I can see why you might be hesitant to walk up a ship’s gangway.


IMG_5146But what about on OUR cruise ship, the Pacific Princess?  I asked the Capitan Paolo Ariggo several questions during our two weeks, but one of them was about this topic.

“I’m a part-time mystery writer, and I want to know, does the ship have a morgue and a brig?”

He grinned and in a very soft voice said, “Ahhh, yes. There are two refrigerators that could be used for that…” then in a normal voice, “but a brig, what is this?”

“A jail,” I said.

“No-o-o,” he said with that Italian accent and a quick shake of his head.

“So where would you keep a prisoner until the ship docks?”

Silence, then, with a laugh, “In the Captain’s quarters!”

(Yeah, right.)


The seasoned passengers were more forthright. One related this story.

“On the world cruise we took two years ago, there was a murder. Late one night on the pool deck (#10), a man and a woman, obviously drinking, had a loud argument. The man (he was quite large) back-handed the woman.  She fell to the deck and lay still.  He thought she was dead! (she wasn’t). So he picked her up and threw her overboard.  BUT she landed on top of one of the life boats. She did die that time.  They found her body the next day.

“They searched the ship. Everyone was called to their muster stations.  We had to wait there until he was found. It was two hours!  And when we docked in Aruba no one was allowed off the ship until the police had come and taken him away.”


Another told of a husband being poisoned to death. They thought it was the wife.

I bet you writers are thinking of possible crimes now that could be set aboard a cruise ship. What would be YOUR angle?  How would it happen? Would it lead to other murders? Would a passenger become the sleuth, or would there be a retired/recovering detective aboard? And… who would be the killer?


Bonbon voyageRight now, I’m reading an ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) of a cozy mystery for review, Bonbon Voyage by Katherine H. Brown about the Chef being murdered. (Oh, no!!)

And I’ve recently reviewed Death on the Danube by Jennifer S. Alderson which you can read here.  Review on my Here’s How It Happened blog This one was a river cruise.

After the BonBon book, I’m looking forward to reading The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper by Sally Carpenter, and the humorous “geezer-lit” mystery,  Cruising in Your Eighties is Murder by Mike Befeler.

How about you? What is on your TBR pile? Have you got a mystery or memoir set on a cruise ship?  Or… perhaps you know a dark true tale that could be made into a short story or book?

Well, dive right in!  Launch that story! All aboard!


(Disclaimer: First of all, this seems like a very untimely post. I am so sorry about the unfortunate cruise ship in Asia and the number of sick people on it. I pray all those among the 3,500 passengers plus crew will recover soon. But please don’t let that stop you from an ocean voyage in the future!)

*A 111-day cruise on the Pacific Princes in a balcony cabin like ours begins at $60,000 double-occupancy.




Author: Jackie Houchin

First, I am a believer in Jesus Christ, so my views and opinions are filtered through what God's Word says and I believe. I'm a wife, a mom, a grandma and now a great grandma. I write articles and reviews, and I dabble in short fiction. I enjoy living near the ocean, doing gardening (for beauty and food) and traveling - in other countries, if possible. My heart is for Christian missions, and I'm compiling a collections of Missionary Kids' stories to publish. (I also like kittens and cats and reading mysteries.)

13 thoughts on “Cruises Can Be Murder**”

  1. Love your post!, Jackie, and my mind immediately went to Hercule Poirot and Agatha Christie Death on the Nile…cruising, not at/on today’s standards (the view from your stateroom looks grand!)–but true time-tested originals from a former day with the luxuries of that period. You’ve started my mind a churning…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Madeline, I didn’t tell of the several incidents where passengers talked about pirates. One time they managed to get aboard. No one was hurt, but they took a lot of things. Any narrow passageway is vulnerable. (Read my response to Gayle’s commenty.)

      Liked by 2 people

  2. My spy novels have had incidents aboard a ship, but they were just one of the happenings in the spy saga. I will have to think about another story on the high seas, but coming up with something different will be difficult since there are so many stories out there already.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Another passenger told us about Pirates coming aboard their ship. (The stern end is the vulnerable spot.) No one was hurt that time, but they did steal a lot of things.
      And another passenger told of cruising up in the Baltic sea. There’s a narrow channel into the Bay of Bothnia and the cruise ship had to run with ALL lights off – totally black – so pirates couldn’t see them. Another dangerous area is cruising through the Suez Canal.
      When the ship was docked at various spots on our cruise the cables holding the stern end secure to the dock had special guards on them to keep off (or at least slow down) pirates.


  3. I’ve been on many cruises and always come home brimming with writing ideas, but have yet to put them on paper. A couple of years ago, a Utah man killed his wife on a cruise because she laughed at him! Always a good motive. I have read the Danube mystery and will check your review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, do write your ideas up, Maggie, even if in a short story. I’d love to read it! (And post it on my Here’s How It Happened blog.)

      We were so happy with our experience that we have booked a 24-day cruise (on the same ship) in the Mediterranean in 2021, with stops in Rome, Monte Carlo, Nice, Athens, Venice (3 days), Croatia, Malta, Crete, Sicily, and the Isle of Capris. Can’t wait!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. What a fun post, Jackie! And what a fabulous adventure. I will look at those cruise mysteries, too.
        And what an exciting trip you have coming up in the Mediterranean. Rick and I crossed the Atlantic on the QE2 a couple of times – then his old boss, Oprah, took us with her on a 17-day Mediterranean cruise, that docked in some of the spots you’re going to. It was totally another world to inhabit. And a great source or ideas for mysteries! Thanks for a lovely visit!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Jackie, a bubbling, joyful retelling of your adventures at sea, and how neatly you tie it all together plus notifying us of mysteries aboard ship we can search out. My tummy doesn’t agree with calm water, roaring waves, and everything else in between but I loved reading about your experience, from the safety and firmness of my office chair.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What an exciting trip that must have been, Jackie. Ships at sea make wonderful locales for mysteries and thrillers. Passengers are marooned on these great vessels where anything can happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for the shoutout for my book! The story was inspired by a real cruise I took years ago, a weekend jaunt to the Bahamas for Monkees fans. Peter Tork rode along and did a private concert just for our group. My group had a Halloween costume party, which I put in my book as well. Oh, the places you’ll go and the story ideas you’ll get!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: