Bed bugs have long been a problem on cruise ships as the bugs live in beds or couches in cabins as well as seats on airlines and trains. They can be found anywhere where many different people sit or sleep and it is thought the incidence of infestations could be on the rise.
Bed bugs are tiny parasites which feed on human blood and as they are only around a quarter of an inch long they can be hard to spot. Although they do not spread disease the bites can be itchy and uncomfortable as well as unsightly and some people are allergic to them and will need medical treatment.
Many bed bugs are brought on board cruise ships in the passengers’ luggage as they often hide in the seams. Cruise lines do try to keep infestations to a minimum and cabins are regularly inspected by the stewards who have been trained to spot the evidence of their presence. Most cruise lines will also wash bedding at a high temperature to kill any bugs.
However, once a passenger arrives in a state room he or she should check the mattress and the bedding thoroughly including behind the headboard. Although hard to spot, they leave behind little rusty colored spots on a mattress. Also check the drawers carefully before putting clothes in them. If you do find evidence, then report it to the cabin steward and the cruise line will normally move you to another cabin if one is available.
When someone has been first bitten by bed bugs it is easy to write it off as a mosquito bite or even a flea bite. However, according to the CDC the bites are often swollen and reddish areas and they can be in a straight line. It is often likely there will be more of them than mosquito bites.