Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hauntings on the High Seas

Haunted houses and forlorn forests are the domain of ghosts--for the most part. However, there exist many accounts from sailors and seafarers who have spotted spirits at sea, as well as phantom vessels and other unexplained phenomena. These aren't solely relegated to old sea yarns of pirate ghosts and their requisite treasures. Quite a number of these accounts are contemporary. There is the famous tale of merchant seamen who spotted--and photographed--the ghostly faces of two crewmen who had died in transit. And many a sailor in the Navies of the world has come back with unearthly tales from their ordeals in the various wars over the past century. With all the hazards and terror of such engagements, it isn't hard to see the anguish that would bear out ghostly sightings. But what are we to make of reports from otherwise pleasant trips? Over the years, reports have arisen from various passengers on cruise ships around the world of strange goings on. Like floating hotels, these ships shelter thousands of people daily and Death has collected more than one sea-pass. It's a wonder, really, that these ships don't have MORE of a reputation. Let's look at a few tales that have been shared over the years....

At around half past 5 on the evening of September 23, 2011, a passenger on the Carnival Conquest was dressing for dinner in her cabin (6412) while her husband was outside on the balcony. She suddenly heard a man's voice say "you look beautiful tonight." She turned around but no one was there. The TV was on, but only playing music, and she could see her husband still out on the balcony with the door closed. Thinking she had simply imagined the compliment, she shrugged it off and finished getting ready for dinner. Moments later, she heard the same voice repeat the phrase. Understandably, she was unnerved by these events and raced outside to tell her husband. To make matters worse, an hour later there was an incident on the ship involving a man going overboard.

On the same ship, but in a different cabin (2465), a woman who wasn't feeling well stayed behind in her cabin as her husband went to dinner. When he returned she asked him if he had slipped in while she was napping. He hadn't. His wife then recounted how she had felt someone touch her leg, which awakened her. Following their trip, the couple visited a medium who was hosting a seance. In an eerie coincidence, the couple learned that one of the women's aunts had died on the Carnival Conquest in room 2463.

This post by username "Wags" was on a thread over at the popular cruising site,

"My husband and I were on a [Norwegian Dream] cruise in a balcony cabin. The second night out I woke up about 3:00 am to the sound of footsteps walking around the cabin. In the morning my husband asked me why I was walking around in the middle of the night. I said I thought it was him. I know the sounds did not come from the cabins above, below or in the hall. They were definitely in the cabin. I mentioned it to our steward and he said others had reported the same thing happening. It only happened the one night and we never found out what it was."

And "wwcruisers" posted this:

"Several years ago, we sailed on [Royal Caribbean's] Serenade of the Seas, with another couple, who are our best friends. In the beginning, we were a little jealous, because they were in a Grand Suite (and we weren't). Then, we started hearing about the weird things going on in their cabin:
-- All of their camera batteries (including back-ups) completely drained;
-- Recurring problems with their safe, as well as the cabin door locks;
-- Unexpected "cold spots" in the room (nowhere near air vents);
These were all explainable, to some degree. But, my friend said she was in the cabin one day and saw a shadow moving on the balcony. She just thought DH had gone out there for a smoke. A few minutes later, he came through the cabin door, talking about how much he'd just won in the casino. She ran to the balcony window -- nobody out there, of course!"

I've been on close to a dozen cruises ranging from the Caribbean to Europe and North Africa and made many stops in cities brimming with haunted sights. But I'd never once considered the mode of transport could be haunted as well. If you have any of your own stories to add, I'd love to hear from you.

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