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Onboard Health and Safety Essentials to Pack for Your Next Cruise

Cruise Critic

Last updated
Jan 18, 2020

Read time
6 min read

No one wants to get sick on vacation, but it happens. Take preventative measures by packing these items for your next cruise. If nothing else, they'll keep you in tip-top shape for exploring during your voyage; if you do feel under the weather, they might bring you some comfort while you're recuperating away from home.

Personal Water Bottle

Hydration is one of the best ways to be -- and stay -- healthy. Don't rely on cumbersome single-use plastic water bottles to quench your thirst. Increasingly, they have been banned from cruise ships and even cruise line private islands, so they might not be available for purchase. Keep hydrated with your own refillable water bottle. Bottle refill stations are popping up across airports and ships, but you can always refill your own using water at the buffet. Just be sure to use a clean cup to do so, or ask a crew member to assist you.

If you plan on taking an exotic cruise, consider a bottle with a built-in water filter. Pick a fun design so you won't confuse it with anyone else's; in this case, not sharing with the family is totally okay. Consider accessories like a carabiner or water bottle sling for long days in port on the go, and a few metal straws to have on hand if you need them.

Disinfectant Wipes

If the quick swipe of a cloth can reduce -- or, better yet, kill -- harmful bacteria and viruses, then why not give those surfaces a quick once over? Clorox Disinfecting Wipes kill 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses and come in travel packs.

Cruise ships are thoroughly cleaned after each voyage, but it never hurts to wipe down some of the most commonly touched items in your cabin, including the door and balcony handles, remote controls, telephone, toilet and sink.

Hand Sanitizer

More important than keeping surfaces cleanly is your own personal sanitation. Handwashing is still the best method, but when that is not available, your own "washy washy" or spritz of sanitizer will help reduce the spread of disease. A sanitizer with aloe will help to keep your hands from becoming irritated or dried out from constant use.

It's hard to avoid touching public surfaces and also your face, but the less you do both, the more likely you are able to avoid coming into contact with nasty germs. By keeping your hands clean, you increase your odds of avoiding germs. Never pass up handwashing or sanitizing before a meal -- especially on a cruise ship.

Laundry Soap

Handy for longer voyages but just as useful on shorter sailings, laundry detergent transforms your cabin sink or tub into a mini-washing machine in a pinch. Some cruise ships also offer self-service laundry rooms, but typically the detergent is for purchase only. Sure, you don't want to have to do a load of laundry on vacation, but if you need to wash something for yourself or a family member, you can manage up to 50 loads with these effortless laundry soap sheets from Sea to Summit.

Easy to pack and TSA-friendly, dry detergent sheets bypass airline liquid restrictions and eliminate spillage in luggage. They are also biodegradable and environmentally friendly. You might be tempted to freshen up your wardrobe, just because you can.

Medication Supply

Avid cruisers know never to pack medications in checked luggage and to keep necessary meds on hand and accessible. But packing medication to last well beyond your trip is over is not necessarily a given. In the event of an emergency, it is prudent to pack a few additional days' worth of pills, insulin or inhalers -- anything considered an essential medication -- in case you won't have immediate access to more.

A travel organizer for medicines helps to keep everything ... well, organized, so you can track daily doses in addition to your reserves. This organizer is water- and moisture-proof to prevent damage to pills. Tuck in some extra vitamins, including Emergen-C packets, so you can give your immune system a boost if you should come down with a cold or fatigue.

Emergency Kit

A small emergency kit of items could come in handy during "worst case scenarios." Packing one might seem overkill -- until you actually need it.

You can pack your own with custom items for you and your travel party, or buy one online that comes with a variety of items prepackaged. A company called CruisePaks sells kits in a medium travel bag with 150 items from eye wash and lip balm to allergy pills. Consider it a first aid kit with a few additional items.


Don't underestimate the power of keeping your mind active, even on a trip intended for you to unwind. If you find yourself laid up with a bug, you might tire of the same channels on your cabin TV, and boredom can quickly turn to ennui. Consider bringing an e-reader to occupy yourself -- even on healthy days in the sun or waiting for a flight at the airport.

We are among those who prefer hard copies of beloved books, but to travel light and smart, an e-reader like the Kindle Paperwhite can hold up to 32 GB of data, which translates to a library of thousands of books on hand. It's also glare-free, waterproof and much easier to disinfect than a paper novel.

Comfort Items

Mental health is just as important as staying physically fit. It's ideal to travel with a few things that aren't totally necessary but are still nice to have. These items are individual to each person, but they can include a cozy, oversized sweater; a variety of your favorite instant coffee or tea bags; a hard copy of a beloved photograph; or a bag of your favorite candy.

Don't forget about how important sleep is for optimum wellness. Make sure you have what you need to ease into a restful night's sleep with items like essential oils or lavender-scented lotions, a favorite pair of pajamas, a travel blanket or pillow, a travel-sized sound machine or something as simple as an eye mask and earplugs.

Phone Plan

Disconnecting from reality is a great way to rejuvenate your spirit, and a cruise can certainly accomplish that. However, given a situation in which you would need to keep in touch with loved ones or keep in contact overseas, having access to the right phone plan can reduce stress and maintain that important communication.

Onboard, connecting to the ship's Wi-Fi via an internet plan is a helpful way to go online or make Wi-Fi calls. However, if you're off the ship in a foreign land or the internet connection is poor, you will want phone service to make calls or send texts without spending a fortune. Each carrier is different, so do some research before you leave on your cruise, and check out our quick tips for using your phone on a cruise ship.

Cruise Critic makes no endorsements, representations or warranties with respect to the products, organizations or websites referenced in the above article, nor is any warranty created or extended by providing such information, and Cruise Critic shall not be liable for any damages arising therefrom. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every situation.

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