Female wheelchair user sitting holding a sanitiser bottle on a cruise ship

Cruising Clean: Your Ultimate Guide to Shipboard Hygiene

Cruising Clean: Your Ultimate Guide to Shipboard Hygiene – The holiday season is upon us…Yayyy. We are talking about our holidays, where we are going or where we have booked to go. I’ve noticed cruising is a popular holiday this year and many people are discussing how best to keep safe (hygiene-wise) while on board a cruise ship.

Being in an environment like a cruise ship, ensuring health and hygiene remain intact is crucial for many disabled people and people with health issues. It’s a vital part of many of our daily lives. I share some insights and practical tips on how to stay healthy and hygienic while cruising the open seas.

Why Is Hygiene Important?

Good personal hygiene is vital because it helps stop you from getting sick. It also helps prevent you from spreading germs and infectious diseases. Poor hygiene can cause people with different disabilities/health issues to become susceptible to infections, skin issues, and other health complications.  People who are immunocompromised are more vulnerable to infections, and illnesses. Even minor pathogens that might be harmless to others can pose severe health risks.

This becomes just as important for people who are going through certain health treatments like those being treated for cancer. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy often weaken the immune system, making patients more susceptible to infections and other complications.

Germs can be transferred in many ways, here are a few:

  • Touching other people
  • Getting faeces (poo) or other body fluids on your hands
  • Handling contaminated food
  • Coming into contact with dirty surfaces or objects

Poor personal hygiene can cause many different conditions like:

  • COVID 19and other infectious diseases
  • Diarrhoea, especially Gastroenteritis
  • Respiratory infections, including colds and flu
  • Scabies
  • Athlete’s foot

One way to have good hygiene is to wash your hands regularly, especially after going to the toilet and in other situations:

When should I wash my hands?

Man washing hands over a sink

  • When they are obviously dirty
  • After touching rubbish, dirty surfaces or objects
  • Before and after preparing or eating food
  • After blowing your nose
  • After handling pets or animals
  • After changing a baby’s nappy
  • Before and after visiting someone who is sick
  • After cleaning up vomit or body fluids
  • Before and after treating cuts or wounds

I’m sure we are all familiar with how to wash our hands after the many advertisements on this during Covid, but just to make sure:

How do I wash my hands?
  • Wet your hands with clean water.
  • Apply enough soap to cover all surfaces of your hands.
  • Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds.
  • Clean between your fingers and the backs of your hands.
  • Clean dirty fingernails with a nail brush.
  • Rinse both sides of your hands with clean water.
  • Dry off your hands with a clean towel.
  • If you’re in a public bathroom, use a paper towel to turn off the tap.

If you’re unable to get to a sink or soap and water isn’t available, you can use hand sanitiser. Just remember, your hand sanitiser should contain at least 60% alcohol. Rub the sanitiser over your palms, the backs of your hands and in between your fingers. Keep rubbing until it is dry.

Ship Hygiene

With cruise ships getting bigger and bigger, passenger numbers are rising too. I’m off on a cruise later this year and the ship I’m sailing on has up to 3,200 passengers alone, this does not include the amount of staff on this ship. This means you will mingle with many other people while aboard the ship. So hygiene is extremely important.

Your Cabin
Cruise ship cabin interior

I’m not saying your cabin is dirty, they of course are cleaned before you arrive. However, with the amount of cabins that the staff have to clean, things can get missed.

  • Antibacterial wipes are great for wiping down surfaces, sinks, shower and toilet seats.
  • I normally take my own hangers, that way I don’t have to wipe the ones supplied. Plus you’re never supplied with enough anyway.
  • The remote control to the TV, a big hoarder of germs. This will definitely need wiping down.
Around the Ship
  • Tissues are great for when using door handles, stairway handrails and lift buttons around the ship as these do see a lot of traffic.
  • Casino – Do you like to have a little flutter? If so, be sure to take antibacterial wipes with you to use on the slot machine handles/buttons. Obviously, you can’t wipe down every single casino chip you may handle, so be sure to have either hand sanitiser with you or when you have left the casino wash your hands thoroughly.
  • The pools – Loungers/chairs may not be as clean as you may think, you can either have a really big bath towel or give them a wipe down. Again, be sure to wash your hands if visiting food areas when moving from the pool area.
  • Toilets – If you can, use your cabin toilet.
  • Masks – If you do come down with a cold or feel sneezy, wear a mask in public spaces and help protect others.

Top tip: Be the first ones to use the hot tub/pools first, after they have been cleaned.

Eating On The Ship

Many of the restaurants have waiter service. However, there are some self-service, buffet-style restaurants. In these restaurants, is where hygiene would play a bigger role. For example:

  • Wash hands before entering any eating area
  • In the buffet-style eateries, use a tissue when using the tongs to pick up the food. Or let the dining staff serve you if available.
  • Wipe down your table with antibacterial wipes
  • Water – Drink plenty of water, especially in hot places.

Top tip: When travelling abroad, be sure to check if the water is safe to drink as in some countries it’s not advisable.

Cruising is my favourite way to holiday, check out my Cruising as a wheelchair user blog and my Cruising tips for accessibility As a full-time wheelchair user, I find it the most stress free way to holiday. I highly recommend doing a cruise if you can.

I hope you have found these tips helpful and if you are cruising this year, happy and safe travels.


P&O Cruises

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

Royal Caribbean

The Sovereign Cruise Club

Iceland Pro Cruises


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