Cruise secrets: Ship doctor reveals disgusting food trick used by chefs on cruises

Cruise ship holidays cater for a huge variety of people, whether they’re looking for affordable or luxurious. Staff are on hand to make sure that the passengers are kept happy and their needs tended to. However, sometimes they use little tricks to cut corners on their path to looking after cruisers and also saving money. A former cruise ship doctor has revealed one repulsive way chefs on his vessel tricked customers.

Ben MacFarlane explained in his 2011 book Cruise Ship SOS that wealthier passengers can have very high expectations and big demands.

Sometimes it can be risky to respond to these directly – but there is a way around the issue.

MacFarlane was told about the trick during his first days on a ship and warned about how it worked.

“You don’t need to panic if one of the high rollers gets brought into the Medical Centre on a stretcher after eating poisonous sushi,” he recalls a colleague telling him. “Because they’re not going to die.”

MacFarlane adds: “Apparently the world’s keenest sushi lovers like nothing better than playing a bit of Russian roulette with the blowfish [also known as a pufferfish].

“The chefs dissect out the gall bladder to remove the toxins – but leave a tiny bit of the bile duct intact so the diners feel the buzz of poison on their lips as they swallow.”

The doctor remembered his fellow worker saying: “Too little poison and you don’t get the tingle.

“Too much and you die. Apparently, the rich passengers love that kind of thing.”

In fact, if someone eats the poisonous part of a puffer fish they will feel numbness around the mouth, then paralysis and eventually death by respiratory failure – while remaining conscious throughout.

Of course, Macfarlane’s cruise was not going to take the risk of putting their holidaymakers’ lives in such danger.

So the chefs came up with an ingenious way to fool them while also giving them want they want – but it’s a pretty disgusting trick.

The cruise worker told the doctor that the chef took “a bit of a short cut.”

They said: “[The chef] gets rid of all the dangerous stuff and just dabs a bit of mouth ulcer cream on what’s left.

“Ready-made tingle with far less risk of sudden death and a lawsuit.”

Another employee adds: “It’s a win-win situation. The passengers think they’re dying when in fact they’re just cleaning up cold sores.”

Another way cruise ship companies trick passengers is conning them into spending more money around the vessel. 

Brandon Presser revealed what he learned during his time as temporary director of Royal Caribbean’s largest ship, Harmony of the Seas.

He told Bloomberg that subliminal messaging is a key part of the passengers’ experience – and they have no idea.

Presser explained that cruise ships have ways of strategically moving holidaymakers around the ships to encourage them to spend money in different areas of the vessel.