Several years back we had the misfortune of having several people , (unrelated and for unrelated reasons) pass away on a single cruise.
An elderly family member had a heart attack and died only a few hours from sailing.
Since our first port was two days a way and fairly remote the ship was turned around.
Two hours later the family and the "body" were disembarked back in Ft. Lauderdale. This death was blamed on extreme heat and stress of travel.
Apparently the next night a fairly young passenger died from a severe allergic reaction to peanuts. In this case the family and the body were put off at the next port 36 hours later. A funeral vehicle awaited on the pier.
Six days later we landed in our final port , St Thomas. A heart attack victom that was being "actively " treated was put ashore and taken to the hospital immediately upon landing . Apparently the patient died .
Later that day, an elderly passenger who had spent the day in town also had a heart attack. She apparently also died. Again heat and travel stress were blamed for her death.
Because of all the activity on the ship described above the subject of what happens came up and was discussed fairly openly by the crew. With 7 million or more passengers travelling annually on popular cruise lines, there are going to be deaths just based on the statistics. Ships apparently will carry either a coffin or body bags
and will make some reasonable arrangement to keep a body until travelling companions and the body can be disembarked and "arrangements" can be made.
We were told that there are something like 200 deaths per year on the ships of all the major cruiselines combined.