Cruise Health Tips: Your Guide to Staying Healthy at Sea

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A cruise holiday should always be a cause of celebration, where you should feel your happiest, healthiest and most relaxed. However, many people have health and wellbeing concerns which need to be addressed when away from home for a couple of weeks, cruising atop waters hundreds of miles from land.

Take a look at our top cruise health tips to help you stay healthy on your holiday…


So whether you are living with a pre-existing medical condition that you don’t wish to interfere with the great fun of a cruise holiday, or simply wish to improve your wellbeing using the excellent facilities provided by cruise ships, here is a comprehensive selection of tips to keep you in tip-top condition.

Packing for Good Health

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First aid kits – Pack a ready-made first aid kit and you’ll have everything you need to care for the most common bumps and scrapes. This is particularly important if you’re travelling with children or clumsy family members.

Personal prescriptions – Make sure you have enough doses of any prescriptions before you board – it may be difficult to seek the pills you need whilst on board or exploring foreign lands.

Insect repellent, sunscreen, aspirin, Alka-Seltzer and Imodium – Rather than relying on the ship’s shop being open at 4am when you awaken with a dicky tummy, take all the important creams, sprays and pills.

Take a look at this handy guide to packing for a cruise holiday.

General Health Tips

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Check the recommended immunisations – If you’re journeying to new lands, you may be at risk of a number of local diseases – so it’s best to get yourself sufficiently immunised. Check out the NHS Choices immunisation recommendations page here.

Be honest – If you are required to fill in a form at the start of the cruise (as quite a few lines will insist) stating any illnesses or symptoms suffered over the past week, be honest. Whilst this may mean you’re handled with kiddie gloves for the first day – you’ll help reduce the risk of spreading any germs (you’ll certainly thank other guests for heeding this advice).

Wash your hands – You’re spending a week or so with a few thousand other guests, so simple maths dictates there may be more germs and bacteria doing the rounds than around your home. Whilst we’re not suggesting you never wash your hands at home, it pays to be a little more careful on a cruise ship and wash them regularly with anti-bacterial hand soap.

Use hand sanitisers whenever you see them around the ship.

Top up the sunscreen – The sea breeze rolling off the ocean’s surface can sometimes mask the intensity of the sun. Don’t let this confuse you, and make sure that you and the whole family are always covered when on the top deck (and when exploring sunny destinations).

Opt for full insurance cover – Make sure your travel insurance covers you in every country you visit on your journeys and covers illness as well as injury.

 

Fighting Seasickness

 

Pick the right ship/cabin – If you are particularly prone to travel sickness and nausea, picking a larger ship can reduce the rocking sensations. Similarly a cabin in the middle of the ship will suffer less significant rocking that cabins found at either end of the vessel.

Sea bands – These nifty Sea Bands have been found to reduce seasickness sensations. Worn on the wrist, the bands lightly press on the Nei-Kuan pressure point without causing any pain.

Ginger sweets and tea – Ginger has been found to contain nausea-battling entities. However, you don’t have to chew on a root – simply pack a few ginger tea bags or a pack of ginger sweets when the feeling of nausea hits.

Visit the pharmacy – The majority of ships will include a shop selling pharmaceutical products, and stocked treatments such as Dramamine, Meclizine (Bonine) and Benadryl can help battle feelings of seasickness.

 

Eating/Drinking Healthily

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Stay hydrated – Especially if you’re enjoying an all-inclusive booze package, it can be hugely tempting to enjoy a glass of wine every time you feel the thirst. However, alcohol will dehydrate your body, so it is important that you drink plenty of water throughout your trip.

But check the water – Whilst exploring new lands can be a cultural experience which can’t be measured or quantified, always check whether the local water can be supped before taking a big mouthful. When in doubt, err on the side of caution, and pick up a few bottles of mineral water.

Take a deep breath, then approach the buffet with caution – It can be hugely tempting to attack the comprehensive buffets with a vigour of a sailor on shore leave, but this can lead to regret, sore tums and an expanding waistline. Have a look at all the buffet foods you fancy sampling, and then stagger them through the week – rather than stuffing them all on one plate.

And the open bar – The prospect of unlimited vino can make it hard to resist getting sozzled by mid-afternoon, but try and pace yourself. Not only will it increase the chance of embarrassing behaviour, slips and trips, and truly awful dancing – but excessive drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning and massive calorific intake during the trip.

Ask for half portions – Some cruise lines seem to assume the role of doting grandmother, filling you up with copious amounts of delicious food at every opportunity. If you’re concerned you’re going overboard on the fodder, ask for a half portion – especially if you’re supposed to be having a light lunch.

Visit the spa restaurants – So comprehensive are the on-board fitness facilities, that many ships’ spas even include their own eateries. Pay this dining venue a visit a couple of times during the trip and you’ll be treated to some healthier dining options.

Hide the room service menu out of sight – Remove the temptation of phoning the concierge for a midnight feast by hiding the room service menu out of sight. The back of the wardrobe should do the trick.

Take a look at this guide to dietary requirements and dining from Cruise Miss.

Fitness

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Take the stairs – If you’re able to take the stairs, then take advantage of the large size of major cruise liners and toe your way between your cabin and all the fun amenities. Particularly if you’re heading towards the main dining hall.

Opt for the walking tours – Likewise, if you’re on a port visit and have a choice between a bus tour or a walk around the city – opt for the latter. A few hours walking around a city will justify a three course meal and a couple of cocktails thereafter.

Hit the gym – All the major cruise lines offer comprehensive gym facilities aboard their ships, and taking advantage of the fitness machines means you can enjoy a delicious guilt-free meal in the evening.

 

Existing Illness and Conditions

Seek specialist insurance – If you’ve gone to the main insurance providers and shared any pre-existing medical conditions and concerns with their underwriters, dollar signs might be popping up in their eyes. For this reason, we’d recommend seeking a specialist cruise travel insurance, such as All Clear, for people with medical conditions.

Dialysis at sea – If you require hemodialysis care, it is possible to still enjoy a cruise holiday. Dialysis at Sea offers dialysis unit rental as well as the provision of nurses and technicians to support you throughout a cruise. The site also allows you to determine which ships and sailings support this service.

Portable medical oxygen – Similar to the point above, a reliance on medical oxygen needn’t inhibit your right to an unforgettable cruise holiday. If you get sign off from the doc that you’re fine to travel – it is possible to rent a portable oxygen concentrator (POC) which provides the much-needed supply on the move. Health Oxygen stocks a decent selection of POC device, and we’d recommend renting it for a few extra days prior to travelling so you can get used to the machine.

Diabetics, stock up – Whilst diabetes might not massively impede your ability to travel, it is definitely recommended that you stock up on insulin and ask your doctor for your prescription – in case you need an emergency supply. Also, it may be worth putting together a comprehensive list which details your dietary requirements – so you know what is on and off the menu during the cruise.

Plan ahead with heart conditions – Travelling with heart conditions can be tricky, as it can often be extremely exertive. Discuss with your doctor how much exercise is healthy for your condition, then determine how much exercise you’ll be required to do every day on prospective tours. This will help you pick an itinerary well within your capabilities.

Some cruise lines will require a letter from your physician, if you have an existing heart condition or have recently undergone heart surgery, confirming you are fit to travel.

Expectant mothers check the calendar – The vast majority of cruise lines won’t allow expectant mothers to travel after the 24th week of their pregnancy. Bear this in mind if you’ve got a cruise booked in six months’ time, or longer – that twinkle in your eye could disrupt the cruise holiday you’ve been excitedly waiting for.

If you’ve got any other health questions or nuggets of advice, please don’t hesitate to send us a message on Twitter. Or if you’re here to book a dream cruise holiday, visit our homepage or call our dedicated team on 0800 230 0655 for our full range of excellent offers.

Video vector credits: Freepik

Image credits: Michael Stern

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About Author

Claire Wilde

Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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