Posted by: rshalomw | July 21, 2013

HOW NOT TO GET SICK ON A CRUISE SHIP

The following article will give you the essential information you need to make sure your Ship Cruise will be a pleasant as can possibly be.  The Stomach Virus that  some passengers have encountered is not the major issue you need to be concerned over:

How Not to Get Sick on a Cruise

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(The Stomach Virus Is the Least of Your Worries)

Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships inevitably receive media attention, but passengers’ odds of contracting this unpleasant gastrointestinal ailment actually are very low. Only a few thousand of the roughly 10 million cruise passengers who depart from US ports each year catch it, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control’s Vessel Sanitation Program. In fact, we’re no more likely to catch Norovirus on a cruise ship than in any other crowded location—we just hear about cruise ship outbreaks most often because cruise lines are required to report them.

With all the attention paid to the Norovirus, other more serious and more common cruise health issues often are ignored. To stay healthy on a cruise…

• Bring copies of key medical records. Large cruise ships generally have high-quality doctors and well-equipped medical facilities. What they might not have is fast access to your medical records in an emergency (although the ability of cruise ship doctors to obtain digital copies of medical records from sea is improving).

Self-defense: Bring copies of key medical records with you onto the ship. This includes copies of prescriptions for medications that you currently are taking, paperwork related to recent or ongoing medical conditions, your doctor’s contact information and—if you’ve had heart problems—a copy of your most recent electrocardiogram (EKG). Be sure a travel companion knows where this information is.

Also, be sure to bring sufficient quantities of any prescription and over-the-counter medications you currently use—more than you think you’ll need. The ship’s pharmacy might have these in stock, but it probably won’t accept Medicare or health insurance in payment, and its prices likely will be several times what you would pay onshore.

• Control your eating and drinking. Overconsumption of food and alcohol is extremely common on cruises, and it can lead to gastrointestinal distress or worse—binge eating and drinking have been linked to increased risk for heart attack.

• Choose a large ship if you’re prone to seasickness (or if you’re not certain whether you’re prone to seasickness). Ships with passenger capacities of roughly 3,000 or more are so massive that you would barely feel them moving even in a big storm, greatly reducing the risk for seasickness. Larger ships also tend to have more extensive medical facilities.

• Purchase travel health insurance that includes emergency evacuation if your cruise leaves US waters. This is particularly important if your ship calls at ports in parts of the world where the medical care is not as good as in the US. Web sites SquareMouth.com and InsureMyTrip.com can help you find and compare these policies.

RISKS ON SHORE

Significant portions of the typical cruise vacation take place off the ship—and that’s where many cruise health risks can be found…

• Don’t rent a motor scooter unless you have extensive experience riding them. Scooter rentals are common in many cruise ship ports, but scooters are dangerous for novices, particularly in parts of the world where road conditions are poor and traffic rules lax.

• Be picky about restaurants. When cruise ship passengers get food poisoning, it’s usually because of something they ate onshore, not aboard ship. Many restaurants and roadside food stands in common cruise destinations such as the Caribbean pay insufficient attention to cleanliness and food safety.

Lean toward restaurants where you can walk into the kitchen to confirm that the staff is wearing gloves—even better if you see them washing their hands—an indication that the restaurant takes food safety seriously. Drink only bottled or canned beverages, and make sure that the cap still is on the bottle when it arrives at your table.

• If you’re flying to the cruise departure point, be sure to move around the plane. Remaining in one’s seat for the duration of a long airline flight significantly increases the risk for blood clots. Such clots can be fatal if they reach the lungs—particularly if this happens aboard a cruise ship, where medical care is less extensive than in a hospital. Simply strolling around the aircraft’s cabin every few hours greatly reduces this risk.

Source: James Windeck, MD, a retired physician who formerly worked as a cruise ship doctor for the Royal Caribbean cruise line. He also is a frequent cruise passenger and author of Cruise Ship Doctor (Amazon Digital Services).

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