Cruising, Travel, Travel Tips

6 Tips to Feeling and Staying Healthy on a Cruise Ship (and One to Avoid Passing on Viruses)

AKA Seriously, Wash Your Damn Hands So We Never Have to Feel Like That Again.

It’s a story we’re hearing more and more coming out of cruise ships, dreaded gastro viruses ripping through the holiday makers turning the trip of a lifetime into an intimate acquaintance with a vacuum operated toilet bowl.  In fact it was one of those stories that inspired this post.  When I penned the first draft of this post, there was a 24 hour gastro bug going around the ship I was on.  It ripped violently through the three male members of our travelling group.    And unfortunately I didn’t escape unscathed either, spending the first three days back on land making close acquaintance with the porcelain.  In addition to the viral purging, at the beginning of the holiday we had a few members of our family feel a little a little squiffy while they were getting used to the constant motion of the ship.  Below are a few tips to feeling and staying healthy at sea.

One: Location, Location, Location

If you are worried about getting ‘sea sick’, book a room with a window (a balcony is better if you can afford it) at the fulcrum of the boat – half way down and as close to the middle as you can get.  These rooms experience the least movement on the waves like the middle of a seasaw.  If you are feeling ill, look out the window (or get some fresh air if you are in a balcony room) and focus on the horizon, it is a steady straight line that doesn’t rock with you.

Two: Timing is everything

If you are really worried about feeling ill due to the movement of the ship, take sea sickness tablets before you embark and then half an hour before you leave the harbor.

Three: Graze.

In other words, eat little and often.   There is always food around the ship somewhere.  Avoid the heavy and greasy options and graze on light, healthy food, it will give your stomach something to do besides remind you how sick you are feeling (and yes, that is the technical medical explanation as to why this works.  Take my word for it, don’t bother to ask a doctor).

Four: Develop a healthy obsession with your hands.

Wash your hands at every opportunity.  There are antibacterial hand washing stations at every entrance to eating venues – use them.  Take travel sized anti-bacterial hand wash with you and shove it in your pocket before you leave your room.  Use it after touching hand rails, elevator buttons and other communal items. And remind your kids *why* they need to wash their hands all the time.  Because, you know. Children.

Five: Hands off.

Don’t touch stuff.  There are 3,000 other potential carriers on the ship, if you hear of other people on board getting sick, touch the hand rails, elevator buttons and other highly used communal surfaces as little as possible.  I’m not advocating falling down the stairs because you’re too afraid to touch a rail, I’m just saying be sensible.  If you touch it, sanitise your hands afterwards.

Six: Get out in the fresh air.

Unless you are in a port like New Zealand, you can take your food out on deck to eat on most ships.  Not only is it a nicer place to sit and enjoy the sunshine, you don’t have as many people breathing all over you and your food.  Sit by the pool to enjoy your cocktail instead of in a bar.  Read in a deck chair instead of in the library.  Not only are you not surrounded by a thousand other people who potentially have something you don’t want to catch, it makes for a much nicer and more relaxing holiday.

Bonus:  Don’t be a selfish asshat

If you do feel ill, quarantine yourself to your room so you don’t spread it around the ship.  I know you are disappointed about missing out on napkin folding or The Wizard of Oz on the big screen, but don’t be a selfish, thoughtless prick.  Think of the health of others, if you are out there breathing on the food and touching the handrails you are going to pass your illness to other people and it will spread like wildfire in a tin can full of vacationing sardines.  And while we’re discussing common courtesy – wash your hands thoroughly after going to the bathroom, it sounds like basic stuff but you’d be surprised how many people leave the bathroom without washing.  Keep your Down-There-Germs to yourself and scrub your hands before you leave.

Bonus note – if you are cruising with Royal Caribbean you can get Sea Sickness tablets from the Guest Services desk for free.

Got any tips to share with your fellow whimsical travelers?  Drop us a line below.