You work hard to earn time away from work. When planning your dream vacation, you may be thinking about boarding a cruise ship. After all, cruise vessels have luxurious accommodations, fun recreational opportunities and delicious food. As you probably know, however, passengers often develop gastrointestinal and other issues when onboard. In fact, the CDC has recorded viral outbreaks on nine cruise ships in 2018 alone. 

Avoiding sickness while traveling is important. Even with your best efforts, however, you may become ill on your cruise. If you do, you may want to exercise your legal right to seek compensation for your sickness. Still, you will likely get more out of your cruise by avoiding illness altogether. Here are five ways to stay healthy the next time you take a cruise. 

1. Wash your hands frequently 

To stop the spread of germs, you must keep your hands clean. While it can be easy to forget to wash your hands on vacation, doing so could be a huge mistake. Try to wash your hands before every meal and several times in between to boost your chances of staying healthy. 

2. Use your own utensils 

Even though you are on vacation, you do not want to gain weight. While sharing a dessert is an effective way to maintain your figure, sharing utensils is a bad idea. Always eat with your own fork, spoon and knife. 

3. Avoid uncooked food 

When you consume raw or undercooked meat, eggs, shellfish and other foods, you expose yourself to bacteria. Even if you usually order your food rare, you probably should stick to well-done items when you are on the high seas. 

4. Carry bottled water 

On most cruise ships, you can trust the water. When you leave the vessel, however, you may consume water that is not clean. As such, carry bottled water with you when you take shore excursions. 

5. See a doctor 

If you feel unwell, you should not wait to seek medical attention. Virtually all cruise ships have doctors and other medical professionals onboard. If your symptoms appear after you arrive home, visit your doctor immediately. 

Few things can ruin your cruise faster than an illness. Fortunately, with a bit of care and effort, you can likely avoid sickness on your next vacation.