If you’ve ever booked a cruise only to be overcome by the stress of getting a stomach bug, while sailing, then we are here to put your mind at ease. The chances of actually contracting an acute gastrointestinal disease, such as norovirus is relatively low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because health officials track illnesses on cruise ships, outbreaks are discovered and reported more often than on land, which in turn may make the number of cases seem inflated. With so many passengers in small quarters, however when there is an outbreak of gastro related illness, germs can spread quickly. Here’s what you can do to stay healthy on your next cruise.

Check CDC Resources

Before choosing a ship, go to the CDC Green Sheet Report for Vessel Sanitation Scores,  Cruise Ship Scorecard, and CDC Vessel Sanitation Scores, to see how your ship stacks up.

Start Your Trip Healthy

Before even embarking on your trip be sure that you are feeling well. If you think you may be coming down with a virus ask your cruise line about alternate sailing dates. Aside from getting other passengers sick, sailing with a weakened immune system puts you at risk for contracting other viruses.

Credit: Shutterstock

Sanitize Your Room

While cruise ships are held to very high sanitation standards it doesn’t hurt to pack a small container of sanitizing wipes and disinfect commonly used surfaces such as remotes, blind toggles, desk surfaces, light switches, phones and door knobs.

Wash Your Hands Often

You’ve heard it said again and again, but wash your hands! Hand washing can prevent nearly 30% of diarrhea-related sickness and about 20% of respiratory infections. Wash your hands for at least 30 seconds, or while you sing “Happy Birthday” and dry them with a paper towel. Always use a paper towel or your arm to open doors and shut off faucets. If you don’t have access to a sink, carry antibacterial hand wash with you. Germs lurk on surfaces from elevator buttons to hand rails.

Eat Thoroughly Cooked Food

As tempting as the Ahi Tuna sounds, eating under cooked or raw foods increases your risk of food-borne illnesses. Clostridium perfringens — a bacteria commonly found in raw meat and poultry — is one of the most common food borne illnesses in the U.S.

Be Wary of Buffets

It’s often difficult to regulate food temperature on a buffet for extended periods of time. Buffets also mean more people handling utensils (even putting them back) and plates, opt for the ship’s main dining rooms or number of alternative restaurant options on board.

Hydrate

It’s easy to forget to hydrate while you’re having fun on a cruise, but its essential to drink at least 30-50 ounces of water a day, even more if you are in a hot climates.

Rest

Rest helps keep your immune system strong.  According to the Mayo Clinic,, “Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus.”

Avoid Someone Who is Sick

Leave the area immediately if you see someone getting sick (diarrhea or vomiting) and report it to a staff member. CDC Vessel Sanitation program helps the cruise industry prevent and control outbreaks of illness.

Use the Bathroom in Your Cabin if Possible

While public restrooms are constantly being cleaned, if you can wait to use the bathroom in your cabin, it simply cuts your risk of being exposed to more germs.

Remember each year millions of travelers enjoy cruises while staying healthy. So grab your flip flops and head to paradise while practicing a few standard safety measures along the way.