The Blog

Planning a Cruise? 7 Safety Tips For Your Voyage at Sea

Cruises are a fun and unique vacation experience, but they can also pose health risks if you aren't careful. Remember these 7 tips to keep yourself and your travel companions safe while cruising.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Cruises are a fun and unique vacation experience, but they can also pose health risks if you aren't careful. Remember these 7 tips to keep yourself and your travel companions safe while cruising.

1.Wear Your Sunscreen!

You're going to be spending some time in the sun, so sunscreen is absolutely essential. Not only do you want to avoid having a nasty sunburn for the rest of your trip, you also want to lower your risk of sun exposure. No matter what level of SPF you use, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you re-apply sunscreen every two hours, using enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass each time. You also need to be sure to apply the first coat of sunscreen 30 minutes before you leave your room so that it can bind to your skin.

2. You're Not Drinking Enough!

It's always important to stay hydrated no matter what you're doing, but it's especially important if you plan on spending lots of time in the sun. Spending time in the heat can make your body dehydrate at a faster rate, so you need to drink more water to compensate. 64 oz. of water is a general rule of thumb when on land and not baking in the sun. Combine liquor while basking on the lido deck into the equation and this amount goes up.

3. Wash your hands!

Although cruise ships are large, when lots of people are confined in that space, illnesses can spread. In particular, norovirus is very common and can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Protect yourself by washing your hands as frequently as possible and using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when you are unable to wash your hands. You will usually see hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the cruise ship, but it's also a good idea to bring some pocket-size bottles along with you too, just in case.

4. You're Going To Get An Upset Stomach!

With all of the foods cruise ships have to offer, people often find that they come back from a cruise a few pounds heavier than they were when they left. However, try to limit yourself to just one plate at the buffet to avoid overeating. If you're concerned about gaining a few extra pounds, try to schedule more active things on your agenda or hit the ship's gym.

5. You've Gone Green!

Even if you've never gotten seasick before, it's always a good idea to bring a seasickness medication just in case. Most medications like Dramamine® and Bonine® an be purchased over-the-counter, but you can get a prescription for a patch that continuously delivers medication if seasickness is an issue. Some people also find that ginger candies or acupressure wristbands help. These medications both are known to cause drowsiness and are not indicated for certain conditions in patients. Always check with your physician before taking any new medication and especially when your miles from land.

6. You're Drinking Too Much!

Not only can alcohol make you dehydrate faster, it can make you more vulnerable in certain situations and could even increase your chances of injury. If you're going to drink, make sure you have a glass of water after every two or three drinks, or have a sober person in your group to make sure everyone stays safe (and doesn't fall overboard -- sadly, this happens).

7. Watch (and wash) What You Eat!

Depending on the destination of your cruise, it may not be safe to drink the local water or consume food prepared with local water, as some countries have different food and water preparation standards. While in other countries, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you only drink water and other beverages that are bottled and sealed, and only have ice that is made from bottled or disinfected water. You should only eat fruits and vegetables that you have washed and peeled yourself, and should only eat foods that are hot and fully cooked. Avoid foods served at room temperature, unpasteurized dairy products, and salads or any other foods prepared with fresh ingredients.

When you are traveling, safety should always be a priority, especially when traveling to unfamiliar areas outside of the country. Always put your safety first and take the extra precautions, and you'll be less likely to encounter an illness or other mishap. These may seem like obvious safety tips -- so much so that we tend to forget them!

Stay safe and happy cruising!

For more tips on creating a healthier lifestyle, visit the official blog of Michael A. Gleiber, MD or engage with Dr. Gleiber on Twitter and Facebook