Saturday, March 7, 2020

Ways to Keep Healthy on a Cruise


As a frequent cruiser (88 cruises and counting!) I've picked up my share of germs on ships. Most cruises I come away A-OK. Other times it might be a sniffle or a cough or a good ol' cold. And then there are those times I wind up flu sick. Oh so very sick.

If you cruise enough, it's almost inevitable you'll pick up something at one time or another. You're exposed to new people coming from new places who may or may not use the same preventative measures that you do. You will find fellow passengers licking their fingers just before grabbing the tongs in the buffet. In the elevator you might find another choosing not to cover their cough. Any chance of seeing someone walking out of the bathroom without washing hands and then using the handrail as they go down the stairs? Yep.

While the cruise lines do what they can to encourage healthy practices and sanitize ship surfaces, it's really up to us as passengers to protect ourselves. Here are a few practices you may find helpful for keeping healthy on a cruise ship.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and am not dispensing medical advice. Instead I am sharing those practices I've found to be helpful in reducing my exposure to germs while cruising. 

1. Wash your hands.
It should go without saying, but you'd be surprised by the number of people who don't wash them. Don't be one of them. Wash those hands thoroughly with soap and water any chance you get and definitely before eating and after using the restroom. And it certainly wouldn't hurt to wash them before using the restroom, either. Just happen to be walking by a sink on your way to somewhere else? Wash those hands!

2. Use hand sanitizer. A lot.
See one, use one!
Cruise ships have hand sanitizer stations all around the ship. Along with handwashing use these sanitizers after holding the handrails, after touching other surfaces, and before and after eating. Even with the abundance of hand sanitizer stations on the ship we still carry our own. We also take our pocket sized sanitizer in port as handwashing facilities may not be available.

3. Keep your distance.
From other people, that is. Heard of social distancing? Leave space between you and the next person whether you are in the theater,
You'll never find a theater this empty so be particular about where you sit.
in any of the dining locations,
 or even when you're in a line getting on or off the ship.
Walk slower or faster if you need to, but leave some space
between you and the next person.
4. Seek out fresh air.
Choose outside spaces over inside spaces whenever possible. Fresh air is always a good thing and is preferable over enclosed spaces.

5. Assume every surface isn't clean.
You know how they place paper towels by the restroom door so you can use the towel to open the handle instead of opening it with your bare hands? Think about other ways you can protect yourself from surfaces that might not be clean. You most likely won't be able to carry paper towels with you everywhere, but you can be mindful of what you're touching. Hand railings and restaurant menus. Door handles, chair backs, and table tops. Even think about your cabin. The steward cleans the surfaces but sometimes the stewards themselves are coming down with something so think about those light switches, telephone receiver, and the TV remote. By assuming everything is not clean, you will find yourself washing your hands, grabbing the hand sanitizer, and spraying your cabin with some disinfectant spray before ever touching your nose, mouth, or eyes.

While these five ways can't guarantee you won't get sick, I have found them to help me in staying well onboard.