1. Step up your hand hygiene
We all know to wash our hands frequently on land, but keeping your hands clean is even more important in the tight quarters of a cruise ship. Keep germs at bay by scrubbing with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after meals, after restroom visits, every time you shake hands with a stranger or touch a surface like a doorknob or stairway railing, whenever you return to the ship after a day in port, and at least twice as often as at home. Use a paper towel to dry your hands, turn off the faucet and open the door. Hand sanitizers placed around the ship can be used when a sink isn’t available, but they’re no substitute for soap and water.
2. Nip seasickness in the bud
Being confined to your cabin with a bad case of motion sickness is no fun. One preventive measure is to book a cabin mid-ship and near the water line where you’ll be insulated from the most extreme movements of the boat. Others include over-the-counter meds like Dramamine and Bonine, behind-the-ear Transderm patches available by prescription, acupressure wrist bands, and ginger ale or ginger capsules. Fresh air and avoidance of heavy foods and alcohol can help too.
3. Take Zika precautions
Insect repellent or protective clothing is a must if you’re traveling to locations like Mexico, the Caribbean and South America affected by the Zika virus. Choose from DEET-based insect repellents, natural DEET alternatives or permethrin-coated clothing (found at outdoor equipment stores). You can also reduce your risk by wearing long sleeves and pants on shore excursions.
4. Pack spare eyes and ears
Nothing ruins a vacation faster than not being able to see or hear clearly if you lose your glasses, contacts or hearing aid. Be sure to have backups with you. If you don’t have extra hearing aids, an off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-most product like MDHearingAid models that cost as little as $200 per ear is a good option. Mass market hearing aids require no custom molds or fitting appointments, and you won’t be out thousands of dollars if they get wet or damaged.
5. Stay hydrated
Heat, sun and time in the onboard bars can lead to dehydration. And that can cause everything from nausea and vomiting to muscle cramps, lightheadedness, weakness and even heart palpitations. Water is the best antidote, so keep sipping away. (A reusable water bottle helps.) And don’t forget to go easy on the alcohol. You’ll avoid hangovers and other booze-related complications as well as dehydration dangers.
6. Beware the buffet
One of the great pleasures of a cruise is the non-stop food feast, but overeating can take a toll on your tummy as well as your waistline. Avoid rich, greasy food as much as possible, and try to resist the temptation to overeat. Put together one nice-sized plate at the buffet and don’t go back for seconds. Order three courses instead of four in the main dining room. Ask for half-portions or dishes off the spa menu when available. Have a light lunch if you’re planning to have a big dinner. Limit your between-meal snacking. Use the onboard fitness center, stairs and/or outdoor jogging track or walk on the promenade deck to sweat off the extra calories. You’ll avoid indigestion or worse – and go home without having to put another notch in your belt.
Dr. Sreek Cherukuri