Nothing ruins a cruise like a bad case of the flu. In fact, showing any symptoms of an illness could quarantine you to your room for at least a few days out of your trip. You want to avoid catching anything before you embark on and during your cruise. With foodborne illnesses and harmful bacteria ruining vacations for many, it’s time to think more about how to take care of ourselves. It’s especially important on cruises where you’re exposed to so many people in a confined area and likely indulging in a few unhealthy habits while you’re at it.
But preventing yourself from getting sick while on your cruise doesn’t mean you have to avoid the treats, and it doesn’t mean you have to work out every day instead of lounging by the pool. In this article, we’ll discuss the dangers at bay and what you can do to minimize your exposure so an illness doesn’t ruin your vacation.
The Dangers: Why Worry?
Recent headlines have made cruises look like a hotbed of germs. While viruses like the flu can spread fast and wide on a ship at sea, getting sick while on a cruise really isn’t as common as it seems. Most travelers sail happily and return home exhausted from a good time, not from a stomach bug. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take basic precautions. Since illnesses can spread so easily in this particular setting, it’s important to remember good hygiene habits like washing your hands regularly, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep.
Unfortunately, the flu isn’t the only bug that tends to spread on cruises. The UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) has issued warnings to seniors planning a cruise because there have been recent STD outbreaks particularly among cruise guests over 50 years old. So if you have experienced symptoms of an STD, see your doctor. No matter your age, if you might have casual sex while cruising, be prepared with good quality contraceptives.
Tips For Staying Healthy
The most important and essential practice for avoiding illness, especially while on a cruise, is to wash your hands regularly. In fact, when you’re traveling, you should wash your hands more than you normally would. Take a few bottles of hand sanitizer with you, keep one on you in a handbag or pocket and one in your room. While hand sanitizer is not a replacement for washing with warm, soapy water, it’s a good alternative when you don’t have access to a sink.
Nurses recommend regular physical exercise and a healthy diet as some of the most effective ways of preventing illness. Regular exercise can prevent an excess of health issues like high blood pressure, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart conditions, and it strengthens your immune system to protect you from viruses and diseases. Adults should exercise at least 150 minutes throughout the week and children and teens should exercise an hour or more throughout the week. If you can keep up those habits leading up to your vacation cruise, you’re less likely to catch a bug and get quarantined for a few days while you get better.
Since you’ll probably treat yourself to a few indulgent meals and drinks throughout your trip, it’s also important to maintain a few healthier habits. Try to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables any chance you get. Ask for a side of fruit with breakfast or opt for a vegetarian dish if it appeals to you. But try to avoid buffets and self-serve foods because these areas can be breeding grounds for germs.
Staying hydrated will also be essential to preventing yourself from getting sick while on vacation. You might have coffee and mimosas for breakfast, and why not grab a cocktail at two in the afternoon — you’re on vacation! But those drinks can seriously dehydrate your body and if you’re visiting somewhere warm or tropical, you’ll be sweating too. Bring a reusable water bottle to use while on the ship, but avoid drinking tap water in some countries and stick with bottled. Make sure to drink plenty of water consistently and sip on a sports drink if you’re feeling dehydrated.
If you’re still worried about catching a bug while on your cruise, consider avoiding the crowds and booking a more intimate cruise. You can find less crowded cruises and activities by trying specialty restaurants, finding secret lounge spaces on the ship, staying on board when you port in destinations you’ve already been to, booking a special spa day, or just retreating to your cabin for a few hours. Getting the extra rest and excusing yourself from the crowds once in a while can help you avoid getting sick.
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