Don’t Go Cruising for a Bruising

woman on cruise

I think by now everyone in America has heard about the fateful journey of the cruise ship Triumph. How ironic is that name – not so triumphant! I personally am not a fan of cruises, but I have been on a few that didn’t leave me too shell-shocked. So when I heard about the perilous adventure that those 2,500 seagoing folks had to endure, I had to address the obvious health issues and give you guys a few tips so that next cruise you take can be a healthier one – barring any disaster, man-made or natural!

Let’s be frank. Cruises are a very safe form of travel, all things considered. You can always check the Cruise Report Card to see if your anticipated vessel has had issues. But, the problem is that when things go wrong on a cruise they go horribly wrong. This is because the huge numbers of passengers necessitate constant electric power, to store food at the appropriate temperature and provide proper hygienic services, such as human waste disposal. When neither of these things are optimal, bacteria and viruses are able to replicate easily, which increases the odds of you getting sick on board or after you get home, even up to two weeks later.

From norovirus to swine flu to seasickness, cruise ship passengers can easily succumb to a number of ailments. You can’t always blame the ship because you may already have a virus that hasn’t shown symptoms, so I must be fair. Before you even get on that ship I recommend getting great sleep a week before and also taking a multivitamin to make sure your immune system is the best it can be.

If you don’t do anything to keep yourself healthy on your next cruise, just do at least this one thing: Wash your hands! You can use hand sanitizer as an adequate replacement if there is no other alternative – but it’s always better to wash. It can protect you against viruses and other microbial bad players. Remember, on a cruise you are constantly touching strangers’ hands and safety rails or even slot machines. Wash your hands much more than you do at home.

Next, I want you to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water – and mixing it with alcohol doesn’t count!  You should carry around a water bottle and constantly fill it up with filtered water. If you are drinking at the bar enough for the bartender to know your name, alternate each alcoholic drink with 8 ounces of water. Make sure that the water is safe to drink. Don’t forget that ice is just frozen water so avoid that as well. Check the US State Department’s website for country-specific travel warnings.

I also want you to pack a lot of sunscreen and wear it! Nothing is more bothersome than a bad sunburn because you know that you could have prevented it. Don’t forget to reapply after swimming. Watch out for eating uncooked fruit and vegetables, especially fruit that you get from the exotic ports. You could easily pick up a nasty bacteria.

You can avoid seasickness by visiting your primary care doc prior to your trip and getting some anti-nausea meds usually in the form of a patch that you wear for the trip, or you can try to chew ginger candies, which also fight seasickness.

You also should not eat all day, every day.  The average cruiser gains 6 pounds on a 7 day cruise, so please don’t blow your entire diet while on vacation. You will hate yourself when you can’t fit in your clothes when you return.

What I have tried to do is use the cruise as a great way to workout because ships usually have great gyms! And it can be easy to avoid carbs because it’s a  smorgasbord – meaning you will have other options. Load up on fish, poultry and salads and come back from your trip ripped (sorta)!

I hope that you remember all of these things for next excursion so you can have a wonderful time while you relax and enjoy your well-deserved trip. Bon voyage!