About to set off on a cruise holiday? You lucky thing!

Here at Superdrug, we’ve put together a handy little guide of things to be mindful of while you’re out there enjoying the sun, sights and that well-deserved rest. There’s nothing worse than a holiday spoilt by unexpected illness, so make sure you do all you can to avoid it this year.

1. Eating

It’s a well known fact that food on cruises can be excellent. But, unfortunately for us, plenty of good food and not much exercise can be fatal for our waistbands. Many passengers on even very short cruises will gain weight. We’re not saying you can’t have that slice of fudgy chocolate cake for dessert, but try to pace yourself throughout the trip. Maybe take a lighter lunch so that you can enjoy a really indulgent dinner later, or limit yourself to one delicious plate from the buffet. Always take enough time to enjoy your dinner - if you’re not rushing your food, you’ll feel fuller quicker and be able to appreciate it better.

2. Drinking

Of course you’ll be enjoying a second (third, fourth…?) mojito while you lounge about in the sun. You deserve it. But you don’t deserve that monster holiday hangover. Make sure you’re also drinking plenty of water and you’ll be saved from too much of a sore head the next day. Binge drinking is also one of the main causes of accidents on cruises, so try to stay aware of what you’ve had and ask a friend who’s not drinking to watch over you if you’re planning a big night.

3. Exposure To The Sun

Suncream, suncream, and more suncream! There’s nothing more embarrassing than the ‘lobster look’ on holiday, so don’t get caught out by sunburn while you’re away. Make sure you’re well protected when you hit the deckchair and keep topping up with suncream throughout the day.

4. Motion Sickness

Bumpy ride? Seasickness can be a real mood killer. Luckily for you, there’s now a whole host of gadgets you can buy to help you keep your dinner down while on board. Try an acupressure wristband, or talk to your Superdrug pharmacist about getting over-the-counter pills like Dramamine to help you on your way. Failing that, beat seasickness the old school way by chewing on ginger, staring ahead at the horizon or getting plenty of fresh air.

5. Accidents On Board

Seasickness isn’t all to look out for if your ride is rough. Take care while walking on deck or using staircases if the sea’s particularly choppy. This is especially important if you’re over a certain age, or have a long-standing impairment that makes you less steady on your feet. Make sure you’ve checked that the cruise ship you’re using will have the appropriate facilities well in advance, and make arrangements before you go if not.

6. Medical Conditions

Always be upfront with the ship’s medical staff and organisers if you do have any pre-existing illnesses or are currently on medication. Illnesses like the common cold and norovirus are contagious and can be passed to other passengers. For your own safety, they should all be clued up on your personal medical history and any risks. Before you go, get a summary of your condition(s) and prescription needs from your doctor to take with you. The cruise lifestyle of heavy wining and dining can be particularly risky for those with heart conditions, and if you’re already predisposed to strokes then try not to stay in the sun for quite so long.

7. Medical Care

On the ship, there should always be decent enough medical facilities to cover minor accidents or upsets. However, if you think you might be in need of them, make sure to check before you travel. In cases of medical emergency, the ship’s infirmary often won’t be able to provide instant services like surgery, blood transfusions or specialist care. In cases like these, a medical evacuation is called for and is usually close to hand. However, this depends very much on the ship’s position at sea and the next port stop on the itinerary. Find out whether your insurance will cover medical evacuation, too, because this could involve extra costs.

8. Food Poisoning

While travelling on board, food poisoning shouldn’t be a problem. But if you’re planning on plenty of shore excursions or overnight stays in countries where the sanitation isn’t great, then follow the normal safety precautions. Wash your hands regularly, bring hand sanitizer with you and don’t take risks with eating or drinking. Try always to eat food that is cooked and served piping hot. Drinks should come from sealed cans or bottles, or be made from boiled water if you don’t have the means to treat the water yourself. Avoid ice and make sure to only eat fresh fruit or vegetables you’ve washed yourself with clean water. It’s usually not allowed to bring food back on board for this very reason. And, again, if you think you’ve been exposed to food poisoning while off-board, let the ship’s staff know as soon as possible!

9. Vaccinations

Even if you’re just planning on staying aboard the ship for the whole journey, it’s a good idea to think about vaccinations before you go. With so many people in such a contained space, things like respiratory infections or influenza can spread quickly. Follow your usual personal hygiene routine of handwashing and get a flu shot from your GP before you go to avoid all risk. If you are making stopovers, especially in areas outside Europe and North America or in heavy jungle, you might need to provide evidence before you board of vaccinations against yellow fever, hepatitis A and typhoid, among others. Talk to someone at your local Superdrug Travel Clinic for a full assessment of your needs and to arrange all your vaccines beforehand. If you’re unlucky enough to be bitten or exposed to rabies while ashore, most large cruise ships will provide post-exposure rabies vaccination. But always check with your cruise organiser first if you’re unsure!

10. Malaria Prevention

You’re unlikely to be exposed to malaria while on a cruise, but if you’re travelling to areas like the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central America or Asia, then you should be aware of the risk. Again, ask one of our specialist nurses at a Superdrug Travel Clinic if you’ll need malaria tablets before you travel. If you think you’ve been exposed, make sure to let the ship’s medical staff and organisers know as soon as possible so that they can organise treatment in case of a fever. Take all precautions to avoid mosquito bites by using insecticide or repellent, wearing long-sleeved clothing and by using a net if sleeping outside or in an unscreened room.

So there you have it! 10 tips from us to minimise the risk of falling ill while on board a cruise. It’s always a good idea to stay aware of all the health risks and do all you can to avoid them, leaving you free to relax and enjoy your holiday!