A Navy lieutenant is discovered in a trash compactor aboard a ship serving as a tiger cruise. The team's investigation is complicated by the presence of the friends and relatives of the crew members on the ship which is sailing to Norfolk.
While Gibbs, Quinn, and Jimmy Palmer head out to the ship, McGee, Bishop, and Torres investigate from land. McGee, however, is distracted by thoughts of his impending proposal to girlfriend Delilah, and the perfect plan he has come up with.
The team's intent to keep the investigation quiet is quickly ruined when a pop star on the cruise as part of a "goodwill tour" spreads word of the death on social media.
They locate the crushed remains of a drone with a camera, and recover footage taken in a secure area of the ship. The pop star was there, but she reveals that she was there at the Navy's request as part of a reaching-out they had planned.
Further investigation reveals that the camera belonged to an imposter, who was actually a paparazzo looking for exclusive shots of the pop star while on the ship. The actual killer is then revealed to be a man who was stalking his ex-wife and son, and was using the cruise as a back door into Norfolk, where they were.
Gibbs and company arrest the man before he can kidnap his son.
Back at NCIS, McGee abandons his grandiose proposal plan and in the elevator asks Delilah to marry him. She says yes.