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Rookie Mistakes – #4 Medical Issues

OK, this is the section that can really make or break your cruise – medical stuff.  Being on a cruise where you are sick, injured, or in medical distress can be a real problem.  There’s only so much you can do, but try your BEST to keep yourself healthy.

Sunburn is a big issue – you see them on every cruise.  People go out and spend hours relaxing by the pool or on an excursion.  Then they spend the rest of the cruise looking lobster red and moving very gingerly.  Especially near the equator, the sun is much hotter and has a high UV rating, so you can get badly sunburned very quickly.  Sun poisoning is a real thing and it is miserable.  Just do all the sensible stuff – sunscreen, hats, shade, etc.

Stomach issues are also a problem.  I’m lucky in that I’m not very prone to seasickness, but if you think you are, go to the drugstore before you leave and bring along EVERY REMEDY they offer.  Then just try each one in rotation until you find the right combo.  Also make a point to avoid the other things that can affect your digestion – overeating, excessive partying, eating unusual foods, and drinking local water.

I did get sick on our first cruise and it was no fun.  I think it was because I ate some soup with raw quail eggs.  It was in the fancy dining room, so I thought it would be OK, but in retrospect, it wasn’t a good choice.  If anything is the least bit questionable, just say no.  Not being able to eat for days, or doing the Texas quickstep on board a ship is about the most miserable thing.

Injuries – every single cruise someone ends up getting hurt.  Not usually on board – those things are so safety-rigged, it’s like a big adult playpen!  But on shore, it’s a different issue.  Other countries are not nearly as safety-conscious as the US – they don’t have railings everywhere, there are potholes and ruts in the streets, uneven steps, and all sorts of hazards we aren’t used to.  Also, some of the excursions like ziplines are inherently dangerous because they know you can’t easily sue them if you get hurt.  Trying to navigate a ship on crutches is no joke.  Watch where you’re going, don’t do anything crazy, and plan to have fun, but show some good sense.

There are also just regular medical issues like heart attacks and strokes.  I think every cruise we’ve been on has several folks taken away in an ambulance, and I think someone actually died on one trip.  It happens.  You’ve got a couple of thousand people, including a lot of elderly folks – there’s bound to be medical issues come up.  But keep in mind that sometimes you are in the middle of the OCEAN and are pretty far from medical help.  They do have an infirmary on board, but they aren’t well equipped to deal with any kind of major trauma or serious conditions.  And foreign hospitals are not the same as American hospitals – they just aren’t.

You can’t prevent every single thing – when it’s your time, it’s your time, but be smart and do what you can.  Get a checkup before you go, bring any medicines you might need on board, and don’t run around drunk and running into stuff.

Rookie Mistakes – #5 Don’t just stay in your cabin

A friend of mine went on a cruise recently and she spent most of cruise in her cabin watching TV and movies.  What the what?  You’ve paid a ton of money to be on this gorgeous ship full of interesting people and you are doing exactly the same thing you do at home?

Granted, my husband and I are both pretty outgoing, so maybe it is different for introverts, but that’s part of the fun of a cruise to me.  Even if I’m just sitting up on deck quietly reading a book, it’s just nice to have a change of scene and do some people-watching.  Some people categorize at sea days as BORING.  I think that’s a mistake.  To me, nothing is boring and there are certainly enough things going on during the day to find something interesting to do.

I get that daily schedule and I immediately whip out my highlighter (What? You didn’t bring your highlighter and post-it notes?  Better go check out my 25 Items to Pack Post).  Then I pick out all the fun things I want to do around the ship.  Of course, I always block out time for an afternoon nap – that’s my one indulgence on a cruise or really, anytime I’m on vacation!

Even if you’re a little bit shy, just smile at people, give the crew members a friendly greeting.  I guarantee they will smile back and greet you warmly.  I deliberately go to the dining room and ask for a large group table for breakfast and lunch.  We’ve met some fun people that way.  And if people end up being a pain (hey, it happens), then just drift quietly away.  It’s a big ship so it’s pretty easy to ditch people you dislike.  You are ON VACATION, so you get to do exactly what YOU want to do.

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So, I’m curious.  Experienced cruisers – what other rookie mistakes have you seen?  New cruisers, what are the rookie mistakes you are worried about making on your cruise?

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