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What does an upside-down pineapple mean on a cruise ship?

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There are lots of codes in cruise culture – “alpha” codes to signal onboard emergencies, numerical codes printed on your keycard to represent your cabin number and even codes for the names of the vessels themselves. But, perhaps no code is met with as much side-eye as the pineapple and what it stands for, particularly if it’s upside-down.

What do upside-down pineapples mean when you see them on a cruise ship? Read on for more about their hidden message.

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What does an upside-down pineapple mean on a cruise?

When I think of pineapples, I associate them with all things tropical — mainly pina coladas by the pool. But, for people who are swingers — couples who switch partners for the purpose of having physical relations — upside-down pineapples serve as a subtle way to indicate that they’re part of that lifestyle, thereby making it easier for potential partners to find them.

Where might I see upside-down pineapples on cruise ships?

A pineapple lying on a wooden table, upside-down

Upside-down pineapple indicators can be subtle (think pineapple sunglasses or nail art) or more in-your-face in the form of tattoos, cabin door decorations and, of course, clothing — everything from swimsuits and trunks to trousers and button-down shirts.

Are there swingers cruises?

Yes. There are several companies — including Bliss Cruise, Temptation Cruises and Desire Cruises — that charter ships for the purpose of hosting swingers cruises exclusively for people who are engaged in the lifestyle. Those types of sailings often include racy entertainment, workshops and even playrooms, in addition to regular cruise activities and port calls.

Although nude cruises are a different type of chartered voyage, some swinger cruises are clothing-optional.

What else should I know?

If you see an upside-down pineapple on a cruise, it doesn’t always mean that someone is a swinger. In some instances, pineapples are simply a symbol of hospitality, particularly in the South and in Hawaii.

So, if you find yourself on a voyage out of Galveston, Texas; Mobile, Alabama; or one of Florida’s many ports, or if you’re booked on a Hawaii cruise, think twice. Pineapples on someone’s attire might just mean they liked the look of the shirt, shorts or bathing suit they’re wearing.

The bottom line is that you should use discretion when making a determination about a pineapple’s meaning when you see it in the wild — or on a cruise ship.

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