Cruises are a great way to travel, see different places and relax while you’re at it. While taking a break is good for you, as with every holiday there are health risks and new threats for your immune system to overcome. With a few simple precautions you can minimise these and get on with the important task of enjoying yourself.
Before You Leave
Before you go you should see your GP and discuss whether there are any additional vaccinations recommended for each destination on the cruise. You also need to be up to date with the normal UK vaccines as you’ll be travelling with people from a variety of countries whose vaccines may vary slightly from the norm at home, which can lead to outbreaks of common illnesses.
Be honest on health forms. The staff need to know if special care is required. Do remember to take items you’ll need, including any medications you take, sunscreen, insect spray, anti-diarrhoea products and pain relief.
Food and Drink
All cruises deals include food and there’s usually a great variety, from buffets to formal dinners. Remember that as great as the food is there’s no need to overeat! Being in such enclosed spaces means that where poor hygiene and bugs combine, lots of passengers can be affected very quickly by food poisoning and bugs such as Norovirus, which can be passed on via food and between people. The destinations are also worth considering. On some of the more exotic cruises the ship can stop at places where food hygiene isn’t the same as it is at home.
There are a few precautions you can take to minimise your chances of contracting food poisoning. Make sure that food is served at the right temperature. Don’t eat hot meals that are not hot all the way through and avoid cold food that isn’t properly chilled. Don’t eat the skins of fruit and vegetables or anything that doesn’t seem to have been properly washed. If you’re heading to a destination you can’t trust, remember to take bottles of water from the ship and plenty of it to avoid dehydration.
Take Care of Yourself
Airborne bugs are common on cruises and you’ll come across a lot of things your immune system has never had to cope with before. Add sea sickness and the holiday phenomenon (which describes illness caused by a suddenly relaxed immune system) and it’s easy to see why cruise-goers often fall foul of colds and flu. Other than getting a flu shot before you leave, the most important thing you can do to avoid this is wash your hands. Make sure you do so before eating, after using the facilities and after touching things that get touched by everyone on board, such as the bannisters. Carrying a hand-sanitising gel is useful for when you can’t get to a sink or the water in port isn’t terribly clean. Try not to touch your face to avoid transferring any germs you have picked up.
Do also remember to exercise, as tricky as it can be on board; going up and down stairs, using the pool if there is one and jogging on the deck are options. Many people suffer from sea sickness. If you’re one of them you can try a number of things. Ginger chews or tea, fresh air and acupressure bracelets can be helpful.
Taking a few precautions doesn’t take too much time out of our day but can make all the difference to your cruise experience.