Things to keep in mind on the open seas

I should hate being at sea.

In 1952, during my first trip as a young ship’s surgeon, I sailed to Germany to bring persons displaced by the war to Canada.

I did not know that during the voyage I would have to remove the Captain of his command, for medical reasons. Nor did I realize how many medical problems I would encounter with 800 very ill passengers. Still, I’ve always loved being at sea. Now I’ve just returned from a cardiology seminar aboard a cruise to Alaska. During it I pondered how to keep well while cruising.

First, get rid of misconceptions.

Some people decide not to cruise for fear of Norovirus infection. But such infections are rare occurrences that hit the headlines. Actually, you’re much safer at sea due to strict sanitary precautions aboard ship. After all, how many city restaurants expect you to sanitize your hands at their door!

I recall one cruise passenger who started to pick up ice for her drink with her hands. She was firmly told not to do so.

But remember, it’s still a germy world whether at home or at sea and frequent hand washing still remains the best guard against infection. Hand sanitizers are important but not a replacement for hand washing with soap and water.

In conversation with ship’s surgeons, I was told the big problem aboard is overindulgence.

Cruise ships are noted for the abundance and variety of food and it’s staring you in the face all day. So is alcohol. It is readily available, particularly if it’s included in the fare. So every night becomes Saturday night.

Not a good time for the stomach. The best caution is to eat and drink prudently while aboard.

It’s tempting and easy to become a daiquiri-guzzling couch potato on a cruise, particularly during the summer.

I’m not a gym lover at home or at sea, but over the years I’ve made a habit of using the stairs or walking the promenade deck for exercise. It’s still the best and safest way to keep fit. As Abraham Lincoln remarked, “You have the two best doctors in your body, your left and right leg.”

Keep smart while ashore, particularly if visits are in less developed countries.

As a rule it’s safer to take water and food ashore with you in these locations. And never put ice in your drinks except on board.

The possibility of falling is a constant threat.

Keep in mind that on the ship or on a shore excursion, it’s new territory. So be aware of your surroundings, hold onto railings and watch for hidden steps. A fall can end with a disastrous broken hip. And take special care in the bathroom as it’s the most hazardous location on the ship.

Numerous bathrooms are located around the ship and it’s often more convenient to use one of them than returning to your cabin. But infectious disease experts say it’s safer to walk further and use your own bathroom to decrease the risk of infection.

Keeping well also means good preparation for the trip. I continue to take several thousand milligrams of Vitamin C daily while cruising, to maintain a high immunity to infection. C also fights constipation often associated with travel.

Be sure to pack prescription medication and other health products. But they should always be in your carry-on bag, just in case your luggage never arrives!

It’s also prudent, particularly if travelling to exotic locations, to consult a travel specialist about vaccinations several weeks prior to departure. No one wants to develop malaria when it can be prevented.

Today, sea sickness is usually not a problem.

If it is, scopolamine patches placed behind the ear are available.

But it could be that sickness upon sailing is not the ship’s fault. Rather, you made the mistake of requesting an aisle seat on the plane. It is the most infected one, caused by the number of people who use the plane’s bathroom, but fail to wash their hands. They then use your aisle seat to steady their passage back to their own seat.

Enjoy your ship’s cruise. You’ll keep well if you practice moderation and are cautious about its many joyful temptations. Savour them all gently.

For information, check out www.docgiff.com. Email questions to info@docgiff.com.

Just Posted

Yellow Vests protestors take to Red Deer streets

Trudeau government’s immigration and oil industry policies denounced at rally

Rebels lose to Medicine Hat Tigers, 4-1

Tigers break Rebels’ three-game winning streak

Red Deer’s newest outdoor ice facility opens to the public next week

The speed skating oval at Setters Place at Great Chief Park will be open Dec. 17th

Exhibition explores the rich history and culture of Métis people

The exhibition is on display from Dec. 15th to March 10th at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery

2019 Hockey Alberta Provincial Championship host sites announced

A total of 39 Provincial Championships will be hosted across the province

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

‘I practically begged’: B.C. woman with breast cancer denied referral to Calgary

Breast cancer patient left to fight disease alone after being denied referral to Calgary

Facebook reveals bug gave apps unauthorized access to 6.8 million users’ photos

It’s believed up to 1,500 apps built by 876 developers had access to Facebook Stories, private photos

21 detained before Paris protests as police deploy in force

There was a strong police presence outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags

New home for Calgary Flames estimated to cost up to $600 million

The city and the Flames are not yet talking on who will pay how much for a building to replace the Saddledome

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Most Read