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Stay healthy with these cruise travel tips

There have been numerous reports of illness outbreaks on cruise ships in the past, leading hundreds of passengers to return to shore in unfavorable health conditions. In many cases, cruise passengers have even had their vacation cut short by sickness. However, illness on cruise ships can be completely preventable.

When you're in close quarters with thousands of other people, it can be easy to catch a cold, virus or a number of other illnesses through the transfer of airborne germs. Sickness on a cruise ship can spread quickly, so it's important to know how to guard against these germs and stay healthy for the duration of your trip. If you're about to go on a cruise vacation, follow these travel tips to ensure that you don't become sick at sea:

Stay clean
One of the biggest - and easiest - ways to prevent catching an illness while on a cruise is by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water multiple times a day. Not only should you wash your hands after using the restroom, but also before preparing or eating food and after you've touched surfaces in high-traffic areas, such as the railings of a balcony.

It's also best if you wash your laundry as much as possible. While cruise staff will take care of the bed sheets, you should take your clothes to the ship's laundry to quickly eliminate any of the germs that are clinging to the fabric.

Bring the essentials
When you're embarking on a cruise, make sure to bring along certain cleaning and beauty products that can guard against bacteria and other disease-causing particles. Carrying antibacterial hand sanitizer with you at all times is a great way to cleanse your hands when you can't get to a sink. It may also be beneficial to pack a disinfectant spray, which you can use to sanitize your room and the bathroom. Latex gloves and disposable face masks may also come in handy in case there is a virus breakout on board. Lastly, don't forget to bring a variety of medicine - aspirin, cold and flu pills, and stomach relievers are necessities.

Keep indoors
If you're sick, or fear there's a breakout on board, remain in your cabin as much as possible so you don't pass the illness onto others or catch it from another passenger.

Consider cruise insurance
Before departing on your cruise, check with your health insurance company to see if your plan covers medical care and hospitalizations at sea or in another country. If it doesn't, it's recommended that your purchase cruise travel insurance that covers theses costs, so you don't rack up insurmountable health bills in an emergency.