Sailing off into the sunset doesn’t always mean just blissing out on board with cocktails in the sun. Cruisers of the high seas are often struck down with illness, especially due to the semi-closed and relatively crowded environment.
“Influenza and seasickness are the most common reasons for illness or hospitalisation among cruise travellers,” points out 1Cover Travel Insurance spokesperson, Kelly Herbert. In fact, NSW Health issued a public warning in early May this year for all cruise ship passengers to get vaccinated against the flu at least two weeks before boarding. The call came after in increase in the number of outbreaks on holiday ships since February 2015.
In addition, more than 200 people have contracted Norovirus on board ships in the South Pacific since January 2015, proving that passengers shouldn’t get too cruisey when it comes to their on-board health.
Here, 1Cover Travel Insurance explains how you can best ensure a smooth-sailing trip.
1. Get vaccinated
Getting vaccinated before setting sail means you don’t have to depend on luck to keep you healthy while cruising. Nearly a third of all voyages arriving in Sydney from February to April this year were affected by on board influenza epidemics. Dr Vicky Sheppeard, director of the communicable diseases branch of NSW Health, said:”A few people when they arrived in Sydney had to go straight to hospital. If there are elderly people on these cruises, they are a high-risk group.”
2. Remember to take out travel insurance
As soon as you’re off home soil you are technically overseas, so you’ll need to rely on your travel insurance to cover you if you are unwell or injured in an activity aboard the cruise or in dock. Make sure you’re covered from departure to return.
3. Don’t forget the first aid kit
While it is possible to seek medical treatment when on board, smart cruisers will set off with a fully stocked first aid kit so they can self-treat minor ailments. Make sure you have cold and flu medicine, seasickness tablets, diarrhoea tablets and painkillers as an absolute minimum. Consult your doctor for more advice, as solid preparation will provide peace of mind when you set sail.
4. Manage your medical condition
If you have an ongoing medical condition, ensure you have all the relevant documentation and medication with you. It can be tricky to source medicine mid-cruise, so see your doctor about sourcing more if at all possible. It’s often a good idea to keep medication in different areas of your luggage, just in case one supply is lost or damaged.
5. Sleep tight
When every evening on board is packed full of exciting activities, it’s easy to forget how critical shuteye is to your health. A good night’s rest helps rebuild your immune system, while lack of sleep impairs it. In short, if you don’t want to be more prone to catching an illness on board, take the snooziest solution possible and make sure you sleep tight every night.
Cold and flu nasties are commonly transmitted through touch, so we know that hand-washing is essential to stop the spread of disease. When you’re on a cruise liner with thousands of other passengers, frequently scrubbing up is going to be your first and best line of defence. As always, scrub up after going to the bathroom, but remember to also wash your hands before smoking, eating or touching your face.
7. Be considerate
What happens if you’re the one who’s sick and likely to infect your fellow passengers? If you fall ill before setting sail, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends rescheduling your cruise for when you’re feeling better – after all, you’ll have a better time when you’re in the pink of health. If you’re sick during a cruise, the CDC notes that you should report your illness to the on-board doctor and stay in your cabin until you’re symptom-free.
Tips for cruisers’ wallet well-being
1 Keep track of on board spending
Most cruises are cashless. As soon as you step on board your cruise you’re likely to be handed a personal cruise card (linked to your credit card), which is your gateway to the buffets, shops, bars and activities on the ship. If you’re worried about overspending, ask cruise staff for a daily limit to ensure you don’t get a nasty shock when the bill comes in.
2 Inclusions and exclusions
Booked your spot on a cruise of a lifetime? No doubt your booking includes the basics – entertainment, meals and accommodation – but be on the lookout for government taxes and fees, fuel surcharges and even airline fees and taxes. You should also allow for on board extras like laundry, babysitting, spas, internet access and casino gaming.
3 Multiple countries means multiple currencies
If you’re docking in multiple countries, lock in the best foreign currency rates for yourself by exchanging your cash on dry land before leaving. Some cruise liners do offer currency exchange services, but fairly poor rates are likely to apply. Credit cards are also a good option if you make sure you can use it overseas without additional charges.
4 Cabin fever
A cabin with a balcony – or even a window – can set you back considerably more than one that is in an inside corridor. If you’re on a romantic getaway, it’s definitely worth splashing out on a more comfortable room. Planning to spend all your time soaking up the sun by the pool? Save your money by opting for a more basic cabin – you won’t be there much anyway.
5 It’s ok to be a fair-weather cruiser
Cruising through the middle of a cyclone? No thanks. A brief recce on destination weather and seasons will ensure you book at a time when the weather is at its best.
6 Tipping all the time
Worried about whether to tip the staff? American cruise liners may expect passengers to tip as part of their cultural norms for customer service. Other cruise companies may get around the question of tipping by implementing a daily flat rate service charge of $10-$15 per person, per day. If in doubt, check with your cruise liner for their recommendation.
Are you going on a cruise this year?? Tell us the precautions you’re taking to make the most of your trip…