With all the alarming news about nasty viruses that are in the news lately, it’s only normal to be worried about ways to stay healthy on a cruise. One thing to keep in mind is that the news sensationalizes things a lot – thousands of people have gone on a cruise this week and come back perfectly healthy. So, don’t panic – just use a little common sense and you should be just fine.
Here are my very best tips on how to stay healthy on a cruise
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1. Use these Sensible Habits to Boost Your Immune System
Same as when you are ashore, you just need to just follow some sensible daily habits to avoid getting sick on your expensive and long-awaited vacation. Things like get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of water, get plenty of fresh air and exercise. These things are always helpful to maintain a healthy immune system, which is your best line of defense against germs. And walking around the deck in the fresh sea air is not only a way to avoid germs, it’s a great way to enjoy yourself and boost your mood. You can (and should) have a case of water delivered to your stateroom before departure. Dehydration is tough on your immune system.
2. Wash Your Hands Frequently and Don’t Touch Your Face
More common sense tips just like Mom always taught us. Frequent hand washing is a good practice and keeping your hands away from your face is going to be very helpful to help you stay healthy on a cruise. Touching your face just transfers the germs from your hands straight into your respiratory system, so that’s definitely a no-no.
Hand sanitizers are everywhere on board a ship, but I don’t particularly care to have a bunch of toxic chemicals on my skin all the time. Here’s a tip that’s a little unusual, but it works. Copper is known to kill 99.97% of germs naturally. So all you do is bring along this Staywell Copper Germstopper and roll it between your hands for 30 to 60 seconds. This method has been used throughout history and it works like a charm without any chemicals whatsoever. It’s even got a handy clip to attach to your bag or lanyard. Read the reviews – people swear by it.
3. Use these Handzies All-Natural Wipes – a LOT
These Hanzies individually packaged wipes are the bomb! They are made from Castile soap and essential oils, so not only do they smell wonderful, they also kill germs without leaving that sticky chemical residue on your hands. Use them on your airplane seat – Your trusty germ-killing wipes should touch every surface possible – tray table, arm rest, volume control button, etc. These hand wipes should also come in handy to wipe down your hands after a rest room run or a chance encounter with a stranger’s shoe delicately resting on your armrest. Yes, we are fighting the good fight even before the cruise.
Once on board the cruise ship and into your cabin, use your wipes again to wipe down everything – from the remote control, light switches, and coffee tables. Also make sure to wipe down your meal tables with alcohol wipes especially when it looks like the table didn’t get tended to after the last guest left.
Speaking of eating – something we do a LOT on a cruise ship. You will always want to clean and sanitize your hands before tackling the buffet line. Talk about the unwashed masses – ugh. You’ll want to have your Handzies handy before every meal. It also removes that sticky residue from your hands that commonly finds it way off the salad dressing scooper and onto your fingers.
** Just in case you want a few tricks to avoid overdoing it at the buffet line, I have a great post about managing buffet eating in moderation.
4. Pack for all Weather and Bring a Travel Blanket
One thing that can really stress your immune system is to get really wet and cold. Yes, Mom was right when she was always bugging you to wear a sweater. It’s not automatically going to get you sick, but it doesn’t help if you are freezing cold for a period of time and it can always get cold and windy out at sea. So always pack a small travel umbrella, a waterproof poncho (I bought a 12 pack of them on our last cruise), some kind of warm sweatshirt or jacket. There will be at least one point in the week where you will be very happy to have them.
On our last cruise to Aruba, we were BOILING 99% of the time, but in the Puerto Rico airport, it was absolutely FREEZING and I only had a super flimsy travel blanket. There was a lady next to me with a beautiful cozy blanket and I strongly considered mugging her for it. From now on, I’m going to bring one of these legit travel blankets. It comes in a bunch of different colors, has a handy caribiner clip to attach to your bag and is large enough to cover you warmly. Plus you can stuff something else in the carrying case and use it for a pillow.
5. Bring Along Your Own Flu Meds
I have long advocated bringing along your own seasickness remedies – check out my post for which helpful items to bring. I also suggest that you bring along your own miniature medicine cabinet of your favorite flu preventatives and remedies. Things like Zicam, Emergen-C, your favorite probiotics and these Oscillococcinum Boiron tablets. They are said to lessen the severity and duration of a flu by up to 50% and they have a 5-star rating on Amazon. If there is an outbreak of flu on board, the LAST place you want to be is anywhere near the infirmary – that’s where all the germs are bound to be. So if you have your own supply in your cabin, you’ll be better off.
6. Avoid Crowds
This one is a bit more difficult to do, but you can maximize your chances to stay healthy on a cruise by limiting your exposure in the more crowded areas of the ship. My #1 recommendation – avoid the elevators if at all possible. Not only is it healthier to take the stairs (if you are able), but you aren’t crammed into a tiny elevator breathing the germs of 20 different strangers.
I also skip the buffet if at all possible. I prefer to eat in the dining room where we can meet new people and have a reasonable portion of something really delicious rather than piles of mass-produced glop. But that’s just my preference. We also usually get a balcony cabin and I always spend hours happily sitting out there just watching the ocean (and hoping I’ll see a dolphin or a whale!). We do like the shows, especially the comedians, so that’s a chance I’m willing to take even though it means being in a big crowd. You have to balance your fear of germs with the desire to get the most fun out of your pricey vacation.
If you really are concerned about being around crowds, you could wear a face mask during your time among the masses. It’s actually quite common in certain countries in Asia to wear face masks and there are a lot of fun masks that are available which you can wear periodically throughout the trip. The important thing is that you’re having fun on your travels while being mindful of all these viruses that’s spreading. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but being sick while away from home is pretty miserable.
7. Think Positive
I left this one for last because it might seem a little woo-woo for some folks, but honestly, it’s worked for me for over 20 years. In fact, it worked beautifully to help ME stay healthy on a cruise.
On one of our Eastern Caribbean cruises, my husband ended up with a terrible cold and cough and I was like NO WAY! I paid thousands of dollars to be here and we have a whole week of fun excursions planned out. I’m NOT getting sick. We’re crammed into this tiny little cabin and he’s coughing up a lung, but I made up my mind that none of those germs were going to cause me a bit of problem, and they didn’t. Your body is an intelligent organism and if you tell it with enough authority, it can really go the extra mile to keep you healthy.
In fact, I rarely ever get sick – maybe once every few years. People come up and say they don’t want to hug me because they are sick. I just laugh and hug them anyway. I’ve got a great immune system and I know those germs aren’t going to bother me one bit.
So what are your germ fighting rituals while traveling?