Myth Busters: Is It Safe To Bring Bananas On A Ship?

Myth or Fact

Do you like to eat bananas?  Over four hundred pounds of bananas were loaded onto the TS Kennedy for Sea Term 2023.   It probably doesn’t seem too unusual to bring along bananas for the cadets and crew.  After all, it is a long voyage - and bananas make great snacks at any time of the day.  Not only do they taste delicious, bananas also contain several essential nutrients.  They are beneficial to digestion and heart health. 

Like the TS Kennedy, ships have always stocked up on bananas before leaving port.  Right?  Wrong!

sign "no bananas on board"

For centuries, sailors believed that bringing bananas aboard a ship brought bad luck to the crew - and the vessel.  As crazy as this might sound, some mariners are still superstitious about taking bananas on fishing boats, yachts, or ships.

When did this superstition begin?  According to Why Shouldn’t I Bring A Banana On A Fishing Boat?  (, it dates back to the early 1700s.  Often when shipwrecks occurred, heavy cargo sank along with the vessel.  When other ships came upon the wreckage, they discovered floating cases of bananas bobbing among a few loose planks and small pieces of debris.  Instead of attributing the sinking of the ship to poor weather conditions or navigational errors, mariners placed full blame on...the bananas!  That’s right, the bananas were blamed for the sinking of the ship! 

Another possible explanation for the superstition is that venomous spiders and snakes were known to hide in boxes of bananas and creep into the crew’s living and dining areas once they were brought onto the ship.  At sea, there were limited treatments available for deadly spider and snake bites.   Instead of pointing their fingers at the spiders and snakes, mariners blamed the deaths guessed it...the bananas!

There is a long list of additional reasons why mariners have grown to fear bananas, but aboard the TS Kennedy, the cadets don’t believe any of them!   In fact, the cadets and crew enjoyed the 400+ pounds of bananas so much that additional cases of fresh bananas were purchased in port.

mess deck shelf with fresh fruit and cake

There is no reason to leave bananas on the dock! 

Bananas are safe to carry - and eat aboard the TS Kennedy...or any other ship.