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Cruising Tips

Factsheet [PDF - 177 KB]

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man washing hands with soap

Each year millions of U.S. citizens enjoy cruise vacations. In 2011, approximately 11.2 million passengers embarked from North American ports for their cruise vacation (from Cruise Lines International Association). Traveling on cruise ships exposes people to new environments and high volumes of people, including other travelers. This exposure can create the risk for illness from contaminated food, or water or, more commonly, through person-to-person contact.

Follow these tips to help prevent the spread of illness:

  1. Wash your hands often!
    • Before
      • eating,
      • drinking, and
      • smoking.
    • After
      • touching your face,
      • going to the bathroom.
    • When your hands are dirty.
  2. Leave the area if you see someone get sick (vomiting or diarrhea).


    Report it to cruise staff, if not already notified.
    You could get sick if you ingest germs that travel through the air.
  3. Take care of yourself.


    Get plenty of rest, and drink lots of water. Resting helps rebuild your immune system. Drinking water helps prevent dehydration.
  4. Be considerate of other people’s health.
    • If you’re sick before taking a cruise, call the cruise line to find out if there are alternative cruising options.
    • If you're sick during a cruise, report your illness to the crew and stay in your room until your symptoms are gone.

CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program helps the cruise industry to control and prevent the spread of gastrointestinal illnesses aboard cruise ships and assists them in monitoring ships if they have an outbreak. Learn more about CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program.