Staying Healthy on a Cruise
many people, a cruise is an ideal way to relax and see the world. You
are surrounded by the gorgeous blue of the ocean, get waited on hand
and foot, have activities and events planned for you, and are provided
with a seemingly limitless supply of food and drinks—all
while having the opportunity to visit multiple countries and
Although cruising has many obvious
pleasures, certain health hazards are also a risk with cruise ship
travel. Staying informed and preparing for these potential hazards can
help you stay healthy and get the most out of your cruise vacation.
Additional vaccines you'll need depend on
where you'll be stopping and what you're going to do there. CDC's
general vaccination recommendations, by country, can be found on the
Travelers' Health destination pages. However, discuss
the cruise itinerary and your specific travel plans with your doctor.
If you're stopping in a country only for a short time, or if you don't
plan to leave the tourist area around the dock, certain vaccines may
not be necessary.
Even if you are not at risk for yellow fever
during port calls, some countries in Africa and South America may
require proof of yellow fever vaccination if you have previously
visited a country with yellow fever. Visit the destination pages
for a country's
yellow fever requirements. Cruise ship companies sometimes have
requirements that differ from those of the countries you will be
visiting, so be sure to check with the cruise line about those
requirements as well.
Nausea, Vomiting, and Diarrhea
Cruise ship outbreaks of nausea, vomiting,
and diarrhea, primarily caused by norovirus, have been reported. The
easiest way to avoid these problems is by frequent handwashing and use
of alcohol-based hand cleaners. Most likely, you will see dispensers of
these hand cleaners everywhere on a cruise ship—use them,
especially if you have touched something other people have also touched
(such as a stair railing).
While on shore excursions, especially in
developing countries, follow basic food and water precautions:
eat only food that is cooked and served hot, drink only beverages from
sealed containers, avoid ice, and eat fresh fruit only if you have
washed it with clean water and peeled it yourself.
Other Health Concerns
Seasickness is a common complaint of cruise
ship passengers. If you are (or think you might be) prone to
seasickness, talk to your doctor about medicine to decrease your
symptoms. Note that many common medications (including some
antidepressants, painkillers, and birth control pills) can worsen the
nausea of seasickness.
Various stressors associated with
cruising—changes in diet, variation in climate, changes to
sleep and activity patterns—can worsen a chronic illness. If
you have been diagnosed with such an illness, you should be prepared to
monitor your health while on a cruise (for example, frequently testing
your blood sugar if you have diabetes). If you regularly take medicine
for a chronic illness, make sure you bring enough for the duration of
the cruise, plus extra in case of delays, and take it on the same
schedule as you would at home.
For more information on healthy travel,
For more information on cruising and cruise
ship inspection scores, visit CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program.