Few holidays offer as much excitement and enjoyment as a cruise. Azure seas, salty breezes and relaxing on a glittering white ship where your every whim is catered to. As you daydream about your upcoming holiday, here are our top ten tips to help you get your sea legs.
First-time passengers often imagine that seasickness will not be a problem because of the enormous size of the ship, and soon find that is not the case. Every ship at sea, no matter the size, can be affected by ocean currents, high winds, and weather at any time, in any part of the world. Taking pills like Dramamine for motion sickness helps, and the clinic on board usually dispenses these free of charge. One way to combat that queasy, seasick feeling is to remain out on deck, and keep an eye on the horizon for a few hours. Eating a few dry biscuits or an apple can also make you feel better.
2. Sun and wind burn
Your skin’s exposure to harmful rays from the sun increases on the deck of a ship at sea, so it is important to make sure that you are protected with sun-block during any outdoor activity. Bear in mind also that as the ship is cruising at, say 12-20 knots, (which is not really that fast), the force of the wind is increased and can cause a drying, even painful windburn. Use lots of moisturiser while at sea, even if you are just walking on deck.
Having said all that, the very latest research into sun exposure reveals that it’s much better for you in all sorts of ways to get some sunshine than none at all. No sun at all is actually very bad for your health and wellbeing. The important thing is not to burn.
3. Food poisoning
Despite strict regulations and sanitation inspections, gastrointestinal illnesses and Travellers Diarrhoea remains a factor, and a danger about which passengers should be aware. Most of these are caused by “norovirus” which can still live on surfaces after they have been sanitised. On large cruise ships, where huge quantities of food and drink are prepared, this and other viruses can easily spread. The best way to guard against contracting the virus is to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, and drink bottled water.
4. Cabin fever
Today’s cruise ships continue to grow in size, while the individual living space per cabin is reduced. Cabins are closer together, and more often than not, the partitions between them provide minimal noise-reduction. What does all of this mean? It can mean several things:
- Communicable diseases like influenza, the common cold, and other more serious illnesses are far more likely to spread to others
- Claustrophobia, particularly among first-time cruisers, can affect some highly-sensitive passengers. You may feel a general malaise from being surrounded by thousands of strangers, in public areas, crowded elevators and corridors
- Sleeplessness can often trouble those especially affected by ambient noise: slamming doors and unfamiliar sounds outside the cabin door, voices and laughter late at night
It goes without saying that before any trip, the best policy is to visit your doctor, as well as one of our Travel Clinics in London, to be sure you are well, fit to travel and have all Travel Vaccinations required for the ports you’re visiting. If your fellow passengers haven’t taken the right precautions before travel, they could easily be incubating or suffering from a contagious disease which might not be evident yet.
Equally, despite regular health inspections on board, crew members are at risk of catching diseases from passengers and each other. The close quarters and dense population of most cruise ships means there’s a real risk of falling ill, and the best insurance is a medical check up before you go, plus a complete review of all the medications you usually take, to be sure you have an adequate supply.
The vast majority of cruise ship itineraries involve Caribbean or other tropical ports of call, with beautiful beaches, warm seas and water sports. They also mean it’s wise to protect yourself against Insect Bites. Some more exotic destinations might take you to areas where mosquitos carry the Dengue Virus, for which there’s no vaccine.
If your cruise takes you into the jungle, for example the Amazon River, there may be a risk of Malaria from mosquito bites. These are just two examples of many insect-related health issues. The best way to protect yourself against insect bites is to:
- use insecticide on all shore excursions, and apply it frequently
- wear protective clothing—long sleeves and long trousers on hiking trips plus a good insect repellant.
7. Ports of call
Your ship might spend a night in a port for a special event. If you’re planning to spend time ashore it’s important to find out about the port, its culture and any potential dangers:
- Your personal safety
- The risk of theft
- Local customs regarding dress – is it wise to cover up?
- Areas to avoid. It might be dangerous to walk alone on the beach at night or carry valuables like cameras in plain sight.
8. Culture shock
Reduce Culture Shock by preparing yourself for a wide variety of languages, accents, sights and sounds as you island hop during a Caribbean or Mexican cruise. On any 7 to 10-day cruise you will likely encounter a range of customs, foods and music and the best way to enjoy it all is to be well informed about everything you’re likely to encounter. Learn a few words of the languages you’ll come across to help reduce the stress of everything being so unfamiliar.
9. Food and drink
Meals on board ship, whether buffet style or in the dining room, are extravagant, and generally presented in the most tempting fashion. Desserts are often showcased, brought in to the dining room with music and great ostentation. In other words, it’s hard to say “NO”! Champagnes and wines are flowing, platters at buffet tables are gargantuan, it can all become too much for any normal constitution. It helps to stick to your normal meals routine and take a few light meals to maintain your usual balance.
10. Post-cruise blues
After the indulgence, luxury and ease of life at sea, of being pampered throughout your cruise, packing up and walking back down the gangway can be difficult. The daily routine can be a jolt, and it might take you a while to acclimatise to real life again. You might want to take a couple of extra days off to ease yourself back into your routine rather than going to work as normal the day after your return.