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Cruise With Care: How to Keep Safe at Sea

April 10, 2017

There’s nothing like a spring cruise to a warm locale to overcome the winter blahs. And for those of us who didn’t face freezing temperatures, a cruise is still a wonderfully relaxing vacation. However, just like any other time you travel away from home, it’s important to take some precautions to ensure your safety while at sea. These tips from travel industry experts can help.

Before You Go…

Don’t book a cruise on a ship without an infirmary.
First thing’s first. Any cruise ship you’re considering traveling on should have an infirmary, preferably one that’s open 24 hours and staffed by a nurse or a doctor who is capable of treating a range of medical issues. If the cruise you’re considering doesn’t have an infirmary, don’t risk it. Choose another cruise that gives you the assurance that you can receive care if needed. Consider any immunizations you may need beforehand. Staying well on a cruise isn’t just about exercising caution onboard; you should also think about the ports your ship will be stopping at. Make sure you’re up-to-date on all the immunizations you need for whatever destinations you’ll be visiting. If you don’t know, ask your healthcare provider in advance in case you need an immunization or have to start medication several weeks before your departure date. Get a flu shot. Being in a closed environment, such as on a cruise, increases your risk for the flu, regardless of the time of year you go. So take the preventative measure of getting the flu shot this year.

Once You’re on Board…

Watch your belongings.
Many travelers have a false sense of security when they’re on a cruise. However, the reality is that if you’re on a large boat, you’re surrounded by hundreds or thousands of strangers. To protect yourself and your belongings, always lock your room, put away valuables like cash and passports in the room’s safe, and don’t leave your belongings unattended in public areas.

Wash your hands frequently.
The most common cause of gastrointestinal illnesses on cruise ships is norovirus, an infection characterized by vomiting and diarrhea that often lasts for several days. The best way to reduce your chances of contracting norovirus or any other illness is to wash your hands often, especially before you eat and after using the bathroom.

Pack and use bug spray.
If you are going somewhere warm and tropical on your cruise, pack and use mosquito and bug repellent, especially if you’re going to a Zika-affected area. This will help you avoid the Zika virus or other illnesses that are transmitted via insects.

Swim at your own risk.
Most cruise lines don’t provide lifeguards at their pools, so if you are cruising with children they must be supervised. Adults shouldn’t swim alone, either.

Be cautious on port visits.
Even if your cruise ship is luxurious and safe, that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to some port cities. Heed warnings from the cruise staff about where not to go once you get off the ship. For safety’s sake, you might want to stick with one of the cruise line’s group excursions or book a private guide. Also, leave your cash and flashy jewelry behind in a safe.

Don’t let these precautions deter you from enjoying a cruise. Use them to stay safe and healthy while you do!

Source: The New York Times via Advantage Magazine Jan-Feb 2017 issue. Edited.

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