Health and Safety

Health and Safety

Cruise Health and Safety

Cruising is one of the safest and most fun forms of vacation. Our Cruise Specialists have gathered useful cruise health and safety information, as well as prevention and treatment tips to help you feel more at ease in your planning process. Don't let the fear of sickness, safety issues and food quality prevent you from enjoying your vacation.

Sickness Prevention

Seasickness - and how you can treat/prevent it
Seasickness, otherwise known as motion sickness, is simply the reaction of your body's balance to the motion of the ship. Since it's an unfamiliar motion, your inner ear and your brain are both working hard to understand why you feel the motion of the ship, but don't see the motion in the surrounding furniture (chairs, sofas, paintings and pictures hanging on the walls - which are usually anchored down). This confusion onsets the nausea.

If you are more susceptible to motion sickness in a car or in an airplane, then you are most likely to experience seasickness on a cruise ship. The size of the ship also will vary your experience - and everyone experiences motion sickness differently.

There are a few things you can avoid that will make your nausea worse:

  • Just like reading in a car can make you sick, it will also bring you waves of nausea on a cruise ship
  • Looking through binoculars for extended periods of time
  • Being below deck and away from windows or portholes for long periods

How can you avoid seasickness?
It's recommended to eat a nice, light meal the night before you sail and get plenty of good rest. Same goes for breakfast on the morning you set off to sea. Take it easy on the greasy foods and alcohol. Hangovers are not the way you should start off a relaxing vacation.

The best thing to do while on the cruise ship - get plenty of fresh air. Make sure that you are facing the same direction that the cruise ship is moving. Enjoy the horizon and the beautiful view - it will help ease your adjustment to the ship's motion.

If you know for a fact that you are more prone to seasickness, the location of your cabin can also help lessen the nausea. Be sure to book your stateroom as an outside cabin with a window or more towards the middle of the ship, where you're less likely to feel the motion.

Another alternative is to book a river cruise. River cruises are slower and don't have the ocean waves rocking the boat. It's a much smoother ride and the views are spectacular, whether from your cabin, in the dining areas or on the balcony deck.

What remedies are out there to help decrease or eliminate seasickness?
While seasickness is best avoided when taking precautions a couple hours before sailing, there are a few 'remedies' to help while already at sea. Please be sure to check with your doctor before you cruise to make sure the remedies you plan on taking don't conflict with any of your current medications.

  • Dramamine
  • Bonine
  • Antivert
  • Ginger - can take in the form of capsules, raw, candied or in ginger ale - as long as the ingredients say real ginger, it can only help
  • Seasickness patches - active ingredient is scopolamine
  • Acupressure bracelets/wrist bands
  • Homeopathic capsules or oral sprays that do not cause drowsiness

If nothing works for you, then it is probably a good idea to visit the ol' doctor aboard the ship. Most cases of seasickness go away in a few days - that's when you get your "sea legs". While seasickness is not fun, it should not prevent you from experiencing a cruise.

Norwalk Virus (Norovirus)
Cruise ships take the Norovirus Virus very seriously and will make every precaution to keep their ships as clean and germ free as possible. However, the Norovirus is still present aboard ships and you should wash your hands frequently and take advantage of the antibacterial dispensers throughout the ships. Please note that while these Noroviruses cause stomach flu or gastroenteritis, they are not the influenza virus. Getting a flu shot will not help prevent the Norovirus. The sypmtoms come on pretty quickly, and the life of the illness is short. It can recur, as there are multiple strains, thus making it hard to build up an immunity to Norwalk Virus.

How do you get the Norwalk Virus (Norovirus)?
Infection can happen by:

  • Consuming foods or liquids that are contaminated
  • Touching surfaces that are contaminated and then placing your hand into your mouth
  • Direct contact with someone who is already infected and has visible symptoms of the virus

How can you help to prevent an infection?

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces with a bleach or bleach-based cleaning product
  • Discard any vomit/stool in the bathroom (toilet, sink, floor) and disinfect all areas
  • Remove and wash any contaminated clothing items immediately - be sure to use hot water and soap/detergent

Safety Issues

Just like any vacation, you have to make sure to take precautions and lower your risks of becoming a victim when you travel. Here are a few cruise safety tips that you can take to ensure that your vacation will have you worrying less about crime and more about what the next fun activity is up on your schedule for the day:

  • Make a couple sets of file folders that contain copies of your passport, driver's license, wallet contents, any credit cards you plan on taking with you (including the phone numbers to contact for each card should they get lost or stolen) and all of your travel documents (itineraries included). One of the sets should be given to a trusted family member or friend, in case of emergency. You should also bring a set of copies with you on your travels - just be sure to pack them in a separate location from the originals.
  • Don't list your full home address on the outside of your luggage tags where everyone can see. You can put this information on the inside (away from plain view) and/or along with your trip itinerary on the inside of your luggage. This will help authorities to get in contact with you if your luggage gets lost.
  • Flashy, expensive luggage is more likely to be a target of theft. Expensive luggage might give off the message that there is expensive content inside. Don't give thieves a reason to want your bags. Just make sure that your luggage is reliable and add bands to help secure the contents from falling out, should your luggage come open on the carousel.
  • Carry on all of your valuables and medications. If at all possible, it's even better to leave your valuables at home.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • On the ship, make sure you know where the common/public areas are, where your cabin is located and how to get there. Don't go to non-public areas by yourself or with strangers, not even crew members.
  • Set rules and/or curfews
  • Under clothing bags are highly recommended for carrying money and credit cards while in port. Wallets in pockets and purses with straps are an easy target for pickpockets. Also, avoid putting purses on the backs of chairs. Anyone walking by can casually take that purse without you knowing, until it's too late.


You think cruise and you automatically start salivating thinking of all the food you're going to eat, right? Well, the food on a cruise can be one of the best parts of your vacation, given that you don't get sick from food-born illnesses such as the Norwalk Virus or Salmonella.

Here are a few cruise health and safety tips to follow that can help prevent food-borne illnesses:

  • Check the CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) scores on the VSP website.
  • Make sure all meat consumed is properly cooked, to kill any bacteria.
  • Seafood needs to be cooked well.
  • Eggs can carry salmonella, so just be aware.
  • Buffet food that has been sitting out for long periods of time should be avoided if possible.
  • Local delicacies while at port can cause sickness or diarrhea - there is no way of knowing if their kitchen has been inspected and has strict cleanliness standards, and if the water they use in the kitchen is used in the food (should the water be unfit for drinking).
  • When in doubt, don't eat it. Use your common sense.

We hope this will help better prepare you for your travels. Call our Cruise Specialists if you have any further cruise health and safety questions. We're here to help put your mind at ease and help you look forward to that cruise vacation of a lifetime!

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