Staying Healthy on Your Cruise

Cruise ships have rapidly become a popular mode of holiday travel, attracting large numbers of people from all over the world. The vast size of the ships and the multitude of facilities such as restaurants, pools and spas, combined with living in close proximity, creates the conditions for infections brought on board to spread easily among passengers and crew on cruise ships.

A cruise ship holiday is an exciting time for all and we don't want you to miss out on a moment of your cruise! 

Click on the headings below to find out how you can stay healthy on your cruise. You can also download Your Guide to Healthy Cruising to remind you of these tips whilst on your cruise.

Watch this video for tips to stay healthy on your cruise!

  • Have your flu vaccination at least 2 weeks before your cruise
  • See your general practitioner (GP) or a travel clinic at least 4-8 weeks before your trip to talk about other vaccinations or medications you may need on your trip
  • If you regularly use medication, make sure you have enough for the length of your trip
  • Pack motion sickness medications if you think you may need them
  • Organise your travel insurance
  • Research the food and water quality of your cruise destinations and on-shore activities, and find out what kind of animals or insects are in the areas you will be visiting
  • If you have been sick before your cruise with an acute infection, eg flu or gastro, we advise against travel until 24 hours after your symptoms have resolved. If you are sick, see your doctor and contact the cruise line about delaying your trip.

To prevent illness: 

  • Regularly wash your hands with warm soapy water, especially after using the toilet and before eating
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitiser if available, but not as a substitute to thorough hand washing with soap
  • Reduce your risk of food and water-borne diseases during on-shore excursions by avoiding drinking tap water or ice made from it, and uncooked meat or fruit you have not peeled yourself
  • Wear light-coloured clothing with long sleeves and pants, and use insect repellent with DEET or picaridin to reduce your risk of mosquito-borne infections
  • Try to use the bathroom in your cabin in preference to common toilet facilities
  • If you see someone get sick with vomiting or diarrhoea on your ship, you should leave the area and advise a crew member

If you become ill on your cruise:

  • See the medical crew on-board for treatment and follow their advice
  • Don't use the pool or spa pool if you have a skin infection, cuts or a respiratory infection. People with diarrhoea should not swim for 2 weeks after the diarrhoea has stopped
  • Limit your contact with other passengers as much as possible to reduce any further spread of the disease. It is important you stay in your cabin if advised by the ship's medical crew
  • If you are still unwell after arriving home, you should see your doctor

Outbreaks of gastroenteritis and respiratory illness do occur from time to time and most cruise ships have systems in place for prevention and response.

If there is an outbreak on your cruise:

  • Increase your hand washing, especially after using the toilet, before eating, and after touching common surfaces 
  • Reduce your contact with other passengers who are ill
  • You may observe additional cleaning procedures being carried out by the crew, closures of buffet restaurants, and crew members ensuring passengers use hand sanitisers throughout the ship and when leaving the ship for on-shore visits
  • If you are diagnosed with an infectious illness during your cruise, you may be asked to remain in your cabin until you are cleared by medical staff to help prevent the infection from spreading to other passengers and crew
  • It is important you support the crew and follow their advice as they try to control the outbreak

If you are concerned that there has been an outbreak of an infectious disease on your cruise, you can you can email us or phone (02) 9382 8333 during business hours. It would also be important to address your concerns to the relevant cruise ship company.

To contact the South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit's Cruise Ship Program email us or phone (02) 9382 8333 during business hours.