Staying healthy at sea

A high seas holiday shouldn’t pose too many health risks beyond seasickness if you’re prone. If you’re planning to cruise for more than a few days, or travelling to a distant country or somewhere remote, however, there are several things to consider to ensure you have a happy and healthy holiday.

1. Existing health problems

If you have an ongoing health problem, choose a ship with a doctor on board, and avoid cruises to remote places, or itineraries with many sea days. Also get a full health check before you travel, and if you have special dietary needs, check with the cruise line before booking, although large ships generally cater for common diets such as low salt or low cholesterol.

2. Medications

Carry enough supplies of any medications you take regularly for your trip, plus a little more in case of any delays, also pack prescriptions for anything vital, in case your supplies are lost or destroyed. A basic medical kit containing aspirin or paracetamol, band aids and other over-the-counter medications, may also save you a trip to the ship’s doctor. If you need oxygen, most cruise lines can usually provide tanks if you pre-order.

3. Vaccinations

If you haven’t been overseas for a while, check up on the status of your childhood vaccinations including tetanus. If your cruise is spending extended time in a less developed country and you’re eating ashore a lot, consider having a hepatitis A shot. The risk of malaria is very low on a cruise, however, if travelling through at-risk areas take insect repellant in case its not available on the ship, and be prepared to use it and cover up for protection.


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4. Colds and tummy upsets

Hygiene on ships today is very important, however, illnesses such as colds and respiratory infections can break out on board, and be passed around easily. If you have an ongoing respiratory condition, a flu shot might be worth considering. Traveller’s Diarrhoea can hit you anywhere, especially if you eat ashore, so only drink bottled water off-ship, avoid undercooked meats and fish, also fruits unless you can peel them.

5. Norovirus

Norovirus is a common cruise ship illness, causing symptoms including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It’s transmitted several ways, including person-to-person contact and through contaminated surfaces; to avoid catching it, wash your hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and regularly use hand sanitisers provided in public areas. 

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Written by joannaha