Packing smart can make all the difference in the enjoyment of your cruise. When you have something ailing and you’re stuck in the middle of the ocean, it can make turn minutes into hours. But when you have just the cure, your minor ailments can become no big deal.
The good thing is that it doesn’t take an entire medicine cabinet to keep you free of the most common medical issues that seem to affect people on cruises. Not only does packing light mean you have less stuff to lug around with you as your make your way to the port, but it also means you don’t have to spend a fortune to be prepared.
We’ve rounded up a list of essential medical items for you to bring on your next cruise. With this short list you’ll be covered for everything from being seasick to sunburned, as well as newsworthy issues like Zika.
One thing to keep in mind — every ship will have a medical center for passengers. If you have something hit you and you’re not prepared with the proper treatment, don’t worry. The medical center will have anything you need for the most frequent issues that impact cruisers to help make your trip more comfortable.
In addition, most ports will have pharmacies. These shops — especially if near the cruise port — will cater to American tourists and have everything you’d need, just like a Walgreens or CVS here in the United States.
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Whether it be the bands, pills, or patches, having a good seasickness remedy should be the first item in your cruise medical kit. Yes, today’s cruise ships are large and stable, but you can still feel the ocean if there are decent waves. While we’d recommend bringing your own, seasickness pills are usually available for free at the Guest Services desk if you need them.
Yes, there will be sunscreen for sale on the ship (or in ports), but expect to pay a ton for it. Instead, you can save some money if you bring your own. Cruise passengers are often surprised by how strong the sun’s rays can be at lower latitudes. You can start to burn in as little as 10 minutes. Be sure to apply early and often.
Aloe Vera Gel
Ok, most people know to bring sunscreen, but few think to bring aloe. If you do get sunburned, having some soothing aloe will help ease the discomfort and let you heal faster. The good news is that you don’t need much. A small bottle is plenty for a week-long cruise.
Headaches from the sun? Joint aches from walking around in port? For all your minor aches and pains, ibuprofen is a great general pain reliever. It can also help bring down a fever should you catch a cold on your cruise.
The best way to avoid the stomach bug more commonly known as the “cruise ship virus”? Wash your hands. If you aren’t able to wash them, using some hand sanitizer is the next best thing. You’ll find it available all over the ship in dispensers, but having a backup with you is a good idea in case you need some in a pinch.
More commonly known as Immodium or Pepto-Bismol, anti-diarrhea medicine is invaluable if you need it. Stomach bugs occur commonly on cruises. Between being in close proximity to so many other people and eating foods/drinking water that your body isn’t used too, it’s no wonder stomach problems happen regularly. Bring some medicine to help with symptoms, just in case.
Despite not making as many headline, the Zika virus is still a real threat in many Caribbean countries. And even if there were no such thing as Zika, bug bites aren’t anything you want to have to deal with on a cruise. Bringing a small bottle of insect repellent can make all the difference in being able to sit out and enjoy the day and being bitten by annoying bugs.
Even if you bring the bug spray, that’s no guarantee that you won’t be bitten or have other itchy spots. As backup you should bring some hydrocortisone cream to put on those annoying spots to give you relief.
No, people typically don’t forget their prescriptions. But if you have a prescription that you don’t use every day or only in emergencies then you need to be sure to bring it as well. In the middle of the ocean, it’s tough to get to a pharmacy quickly. And while the medical center will be able to help in some cases, you don’t want to rely on them for prescriptions that you might need.