SST Pirate Ship Life - What It Was Like to Live On a Pirate Ship

Pirate Ship Life: What It Was Like to Live On a Pirate Ship

If you are fond of pirate movies, you probably think that the pirate life shown in movies is similar to real ones. However, movies have a tendency to paint better pictures and scenarios. The life of Jack Sparrow on Pirates of the Caribbean is far from what it’s like on a real-life pirate ship. Let’s unravel the truth behind what the real pirate life is!

Research shows that pirates existed on almost every continent. Before they were pirates, they were young sailors who realized that stealing was an easier means of earning than going to work. Some pirates had no choice but to become pirates because they were captured during a fight or a raid. They found it difficult to fight back, and the only way to stay alive was to join their crew. Others entered pirate hood by joining their friends who were already experienced in the area. Women who wanted in on the pirate life either married a pirate or disguised themselves as a man.

What Was Life Like on a Pirate Ship?

Food and Drinks

When it comes to what pirates consumed to survive in the middle of the ocean, it’s far from what you see in fine dining restaurants. Pirates spent long months at sea, so their food supply often diminished quickly. Unlike modern-day ships, they didn’t have anything on board that could keep their vegetables fresh and meat frozen. Their food supply often got moldy and rotten.

It is said that pirates found a way to preserve meat and bread. They often ate cured meat, fermented vegetables, and sea biscuits. They could only eat something fresh when they stopped by ports.

If you think they had access to clean water for drinking, you’re mistaken. They mostly drank liquor to quench their thirst, hence, the stereotype that pirates are often drunk.


Even though pirates were surrounded by seawater, they had little to no chance to cleanse themselves. Any clean water on the ship was reserved for drinking or cooking purposes. There were times when crew members had to be lowered into the sea just so they can freshen themselves up, but not necessarily to clean themselves. Sometimes, they took advantage of the rain and stood outside to wash their bodies.

Another thing you might have in mind is how they relieved themselves. Fortunately, it was a much easier task to go to the toilet. Pirate captains had private chamber pots. Once it was full, they threw the contents overboard. Common sailors or buccaneers used platforms with holes in them.

Sleeping Quarters

The higher your rank, the better privileges you had. Getting a good night’s sleep aboard a ship was not something easy to do. Pirate captains and higher-ranking members had private sleeping quarters, while common sailors had to sleep in one room.

Some of them slept on hammocks. Others slept on the floor. It was easier for them to sleep on hammocks because they swayed and rocked with the ship’s movements. They also didn’t have to worry about falling off beds during storms or high tides.

Health and Safety

It is not a secret that pirates lead a rather dangerous life. Since they had no access to nutritious foods, clean water, and vitamins, they were more prone to diseases. Diseases were avoidable only if they had access to certain things. Some of the common diseases they experienced were yellow fever, scurvy, malaria, dysentery, and gangrene. Pirates were also exposed to fights with other ships where they were either shot or stabbed.

Although they had personnel assigned to treat wounds and illnesses, his room wasn’t really hygienic and well-lit. More often than not, that person didn’t even undergo proper medical training.

The real-life pirates were different from what movies portray – from Peter Pan to Pirates of the Caribbean. The pirate life might not be as glamorous as one might think it to be, but it’s definitely still very interesting. Fortunately, there is a way to experience what it’s like to be a pirate on a pirate ship that is as glamorous as the movies with Sunshine Scenic Tours!

We offer the best pirate cruises in St. Pete Beach, FL. Our bi-level, 46-foot, U.S. Coast Guard inspected pirate ship can hold up to 46 passengers–we can accommodate you and your friends! You can make a private reservation by contacting us at 727-423-7824 or email us at We can’t wait to have you and your crew members aboard!

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