Tips to stay healthy while traveling at sea

Not keen to spend valuable holiday hours in the waiting room of the ship’s medical center on your next cruise? There are things you can do to prevent sickness on the high seas, in fact, it’s easy to stay healthy if you take a few simple precautions …


Sometimes it’s the little things that really add up. Cruisers who want to enjoy those delicious desserts or a five-course meal on-board but not put on the kilos often have one very basic rule; always take the stairs. It’s a simple mantra that has more than one benefit; not only will you get a workout, you’ll avoid those lifts full of passengers which stop at every floor. And why not try activities you wouldn’t usually do on land? Those waterslides aren’t just for kids. For the ultimate thrill, climb the stairs for the longest slide at sea, The Blaster on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas.

Follow these tips if you want to avoid the doctor on a cruise ship.
Getty Images/iStockphoto


Any expert cruiser will tell you to bring your own water bottle on-board, it not only helps the environment, it will be the handiest accessory you will ever need. All that sun, fun, splashing in the pool and possibly the consumption of cocktails thrown in the mix means that it’s easy to get dehydrated but with your trusty water bottle by your side, you’re never far away from H20.

Expert cruisers suggest brining your own water bottle on board.
Expert cruisers suggest bringing your own water bottle on board.
Getty Images

And it’s important to pack one for any shore excursion. One word of warning on the etiquette of refilling; never put your bottle under the water dispenser at the buffet drinks station, if it touches the nozzle germs can be spread easily. Instead fill a jug or glasses (which are then taken away for cleaning) and use them to refill your bottle.


Despite the fact that ships these days are very stable, there might be the occasional sway which means accidents can happen. Be sure to use handrails, be careful of doorframes with lipped edges and consider packing accordingly. One pair of sensible heels for formal night might be worth popping in the suitcase but wearing killer heels every night while navigating those stairs and promenade decks? Go for comfort instead of a possible sprained ankle.


Cruise experts suggest taking advantage of spa treatments and "me time" while onboard.
Cruise experts suggest taking advantage of spa treatments and “me time” while onboard.
Getty Images

Sometimes it’s important to take a bit of “me time” and indulge in some pampering. It might be a hot stone massage or acupuncture, or maybe a scrub but if you’re really serious about wellness you might want to consider a cruise that offers a mindful program. Cruise line Seabourn, for example, has partnered with celebrity doctor Dr Andrew Weil to formulate a healthy program for cruisers. Think complimentary yoga and mindful meditation sessions as well as ‘Mind and Body’ seminars throughout the voyage.


It’s oh so tempting — you’re on holiday, there are bars galore offering tantalizing cocktails and you’ve purchased the drinks package — but if you want to avoid the dreaded hangover (made worse if dehydrated after a day in the sun) and make the most of your cruise (and onshore time) try to remember the old rule about having a water or soda water between drinks. Another downside of alcohol? It’s a major contributing factor to personal safety incidents on cruises.

Remember to stay hydrated in between drinks.
Remember to stay hydrated in between drinks.
Getty Images/iStockphoto


You’ve toured the ship and eyed off the gym but your best intentions are foiled by that poolside sun lounger just 50 meters (about 162 feet) away every time. Here’s what to do: book yourself into a fitness classes. Once that time is scheduled you are much more likely to actually attend. When someone is championing you, and others are involved, exercise is always more fun. Princess Cruises’ Majestic Princess — sailing in our region right now — offers an array of classes at their Lotus Spa Fitness Centre including pilates, yoga, body sculpt boot camp and TRX suspension training.


Cruisers should always be prepared, especially first-timers. Not sure if you might succumb to seasickness should the seas get extra rough? Bring all the necessary precautions just in case. Some swear by ginger lollies, others by acupressure wristbands. Be sure to pack sunscreen, and aloe vera gel for after sun care. Bring antacids for when you’ve had too much rich food, and some painkillers, band aids and if you’re heading to the tropics on a shore excursion, mozzie repellent.


Well, you don’t need to completely banish the buffet but you can set yourself certain rules in this giant room full of endless tempting all-you-can-eat delights. Embark on any cruise and it’s a given that the buffet will be crowded with excitable cruisers stacking their plate with all the goodies on offer, and let’s not forget the array of dessert options. Yes, it’s included in the price, but also remember that there are many sea days ahead. Keen cruisers will tell you to eat at the main restaurant instead and to try and choose at least one healthy option; most cruise lines make it easy by putting healthy option symbols on each menu. Some cruise lines even have dedicated healthy restaurants such as the complimentary Spa Café on-board Celebrity cruise ships where they serve a whole menu full of better options for breakfast and lunch.

Eating at the main restaurant and choosing healthy options at the buffet may limit sea sickness.
Eating at the main restaurant and choosing healthy options at the buffet may limit sea sickness.
Getty Images/iStockphoto


First-time cruisers will notice that on-board any ship hand sanitizing stations are everywhere, and every cruiser stops by to use them upon entering any public room. A little safeguarding goes a long way in avoiding the spread of any germs and that includes thoroughly washing your hands in the bathroom. It pays to be safe but don’t let fears turn you off cruising. The fact is you are more likely to get norovirus in a health care facility, school or a private residence than on a cruise ship. According to a study undertaken by the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of getting norovirus on land is about one in 15, while the risk of getting norovirus on a ship is about one in 5500.


Don’t risk it. Travel insurance is a must. Travelers without travel insurance can be personally liable for covering any medical and associated costs. Don’t think that a sprained wrist or ear infection will happen to you? You never know. And while you’re at it, jump on and check the travel advice for the countries you are visiting on shore excursions.