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9 Ways to Get Sick on a Cruise

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No one wants to think about getting sick on a cruise vacation. Although ships go above and beyond to maintain a clean and safe environment for guests, there are still threats to health that just cannot be controlled.

Luckily, there are things you can do to avoid these ways of getting sick.

1. Too Much Sun

Grand Turk cruise center

Grand Turk Cruise Center.

It turns out you can have “too much of a good thing” when it comes to fun in the sun. Overexposure to the sun and heat could lead to sunburn and dehydration. It can also leave you feeling weak, lethargic, and lightheaded. That’s why it’s so important to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, take occasional breaks in the shade, and drink plenty of water.

2. Too Much Booze

Alchemy Bar

Everyone deserves to indulge on vacation, but the key is to not overindulge – especially with alcohol. Too much booze will leave you dehydrated, hungover, and probably nursing a headache. Combine this with dehydration from the sun, and you could be in danger. Falling ill from severe dehydration is a real threat on a cruise, and a trip to the ship’s medical bay won’t come cheap. 

READ MORE: 11 Ways to Stay Healthy On a Cruise

3. Touching Hand Rails

Carnival horizon atrium

The Atrium on Carnival Horizon.

Remember that health questionnaire you fill out before you board the ship? Unfortunately, not everyone is truthful in their answers, or they don’t yet realize they are getting sick. That’s why it’s wise to avoid touching the handrails around the ship if possible. Also, wash your hands at every opportunity, especially before any time you eat any food. *Cue the “Washy Washy, Happy Happy” song*

READ MORE: The Truth and Lies About Noro Virus

4. Hot Tubs

hot tub carnival serenity

They say you shouldn’t spend more than about 30 minutes at a time in a hot tub. Of course, with good company around and a drink in hand, it’s easy to spend much longer than that. However, overexposure to the spa heat can leave you weak and dehydrated. Also, if you’re enjoying the hot tubs in the evening, you’ll be sitting in a full day’s worth of bacteria from other people who’ve enjoyed it before you. So be careful not to get any water in your mouth or let any splash in your drink.

5. Buffets

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Cruise lines take every precaution to keep buffet lines sanitary. Unfortunately, some people still don’t understand buffet etiquette. These are the folks who completely ignore the tongs, grabbing things like toast and bagels straight from the baskets with their hands. By touching the bread basket, they’re exposing others to their germs. And even if they’re not currently sick, they can be carrying infections that their own bodies are fighting off but others’ cannot. This is an especially serious problem for cruisers who are already immunocompromised. Keep an eye out for anyone misusing buffet utensils, and be wary of taking any food from the same tray after them.

6. Drinking Water in the Ports

COZUMEL MEXICO

Not all countries follow the same water purification process. That means the tap water consists of a different chemical balance than your body is used to, despite tasting exactly the same. Unfortunately, for many people this minor change is enough to throw their entire digestive system off, inducing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and more. Instead, ask for bottled water when dining out. For other drinks, request that they’re served without ice.

7. Sharing Drinks with Strangers

Beachlimerz features an array of specialty drinks, including the Bob Marley… sort of a multicolored slushy with alcohol!

I’ve seen it before: everyone starts to get really friendly at the bar after a few rounds, and suddenly someone asks if they can taste your drink. Just say no! As nice as your new friend may be, it’s not worth the risk of falling sick on your hard-earned vacation. Refer them to the bartenders for tasters and keep yourself healthy.

8. The Gym

CARNIVAL HORIZON GYM

Going to the gym for some heart-pumping exercise will help keep you healthy on a cruise. However, make sure you wipe down the gym equipment both before and after you use it. While we would hope the previous user wiped it down after using it, there’s no guarantee, and you don’t want to share in their sweaty germs.

9. Forgetting to Pack Medicine

Anthem balcony stateroom

Lastly, just in case you catch something, pack medicine such as Alka-Seltzer Plus or DayQuil/NyQuil. The ship’s onboard shop may or may not sell something similar, and if it does it will be steeply marked up. As for seasickness, it’s smart to pack medicine for it regardless of whether or not you’re prone to it. You never know if you may need it if your cruise sails through choppy seas. The best defense to seasickness is to wear the Sea-Bands bracelets and to take Dramamine or Bonine (though these make you drowsy). The ship’s guest services desk will also provide free Dramamine upon request. 

READ MORE: 5 Ways to Prevent Seasickness 

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