The last thing anyone wants is to fall sick far away from home and be forced to take leave. Despite high quality cleanliness and care, cruise ship crew need to look out for symptoms of illnesses they can contract on board.
Motion sickness is all too common for first-timers. Some may never experience it while others may take to it quite badly. Rest assured, the size and itinerary of a cruise ship renders it fairly well-balanced out on the high seas, such that you will rarely feel like you are even away from land.
However, if you do feel dizzy, heavy-headed, nauseous and tired, it could be a sign of sea-sickness. More severe symptoms include vomiting, excessive production of saliva and balance disorder.
Cruise ships dock at many ports, exposing crew and guests to indigenous germs and viruses. Many, including malaria, yellow fever, cholera and tuberculosis, can spread quickly in confined spaces. Most cruise ships require crew to get themselves checked and vaccinated before they join each time, but there is a risk of a stray guest or two forgetting or intentionally avoiding vaccinations.
Some countries may have a different strain of the virus that is immune to vaccinations, so it’s important to be aware of the endemic diseases in the ports you will be visiting.
This is akin to a bad stomach upset gone horribly wrong. It is caused by a highly contagious bug that leads to vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and muscle pain. The bug is easily transmitted through contaminated food and water, and coming in close contact with a person who has the illness or surfaces they may have infected.
On board cruise ships, norovirus is one of the most dreaded diseases as it travels quickly. The easiest way to avoid infection is to wash your hands and fresh produce thoroughly, cook seafood properly, dispose of bodily fluids carefully and disinfect contaminated areas.
Pink eye or sore eyes is another common illness on cruise ships. It’s a more common infection for children as they are often not careful about washing their hands before touching their face. But it appears to be more prevalent at sea than on land since salt water in the air and from the spray of the ocean causes us to touch our eyes more often, thereby spreading the germs.
Symptoms include redness and itchiness in the eyes and tearing. You may also find discharge or crusting around the lids when you wake up. It’s best to see a doctor as soon as possible.
SWIMMER’S EAR & SWIMMER’S ITCH
Both of these can be caused by infections in the water. Many cruise ship crew relax by the sea during time off in port, and the sea water may carry parasites that irritate the skin. Sea snails can infect the ocean with parasites that cause rashes and blisters. Swimmer’s itch eventually goes away but can cause up to a week of annoying itchiness.
Swimmer’s ear is caused by parasites in sea water that get deposited inside your ear canal. This can happen when sea water gets trapped in your ear when swimming. If not checked, the infection can even reach your ear canal.
This may not seem like an obvious issue but it is certainly on the rise in nautical jobs. Cruise ship crew are often exposed to long work hours and high stress levels. This, coupled with poor diet and almost no exercise, can lead to cardio-vascular diseases.
It’s important to make time for some sort of relaxation, by way of meditation, exercise, a hobby, etc. and also keep a check on your diet by focusing on clean, wholesome food at least 80 per cent of the time.