How to Stay Healthy on a Cruise – Guidance from the Doctors at South Tampa Immediate Care

how-to-stay-healthy-on-a-cruiseWith the recent increase in reports of people falling ill while on cruises, you may be wondering if there are any steps you can take to stay healthy while sailing the high seas. In addition to possible seasickness and sunburn, you should be aware of your risk of contracting norovirus, a highly contagious illness to which cruise passengers are particularly susceptible due to the generally close quarters, along with the fact that ports of call with poor sanitation are sometimes visited. Norovirus is very hardy and can thrive on surfaces for more than a week. Symptoms typically last 12 to 24 hours and can include nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, and chills – a generally miserable experience that can potentially spoil an otherwise fun vacation.

Here are some steps you can take to minimize your chance of getting sick while on a cruise:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scores the cleanliness and hygiene of cruise ships. Before booking a cruise, check the ship’s inspection record at
  • This is a basic step, but it cannot be overemphasized: wash your hands with soap and water, thoroughly and often.
  • Pack some disposable disinfecting wipes that you can use to wipe down cabin surfaces.
  • If you are prone to motion sickness, talk with your doctor before you set sail. He or she may prescribe scopolamine, which is a patch that is worn behind the ear and releases medication for 72 hours.
  • To prevent seasickness during your voyage, avoid tasks that require your head to be still, such as reading and computer work.
  • If you become nauseous, go to an exterior deck and fix your gaze on the horizon or a land-based object.
  • Stay well hydrated, and be sure to inquire about the safety of the drinking water in the destinations you will visit.
  • Try not to overindulge in the heavy meals and alcohol that are typically plentiful on cruises.
  • While basic medical care is available on a cruise ship, be sure to bring a sufficient supply of your regular medications, along with plenty of sunscreen, insect spray, pain relievers, and diarrhea remedies.
  • Purchase trip cancellation insurance. If you or one of your traveling companions is sick on the day of departure, it would be best to cancel and rebook the trip for a later date. Many cruise lines will not allow visibly ill passengers to board a ship.

Contact or visit the South Tampa Immediate Care walk-in clinic today if you would like to consult with a physician in preparation for an upcoming cruise. For more information about family health and wellness, you may also find our online series of health articles helpful.