Top 10 Ways to Stay Healthy on a Cruise

4: Fight Jet Lag. You don't want to miss out on the first half of your cruise because you're so jet-lagged that you're not sleeping well or sleeping at all the wrong hours. While everyone's body handles jet lag differently, one recommendation is to arrive at a far-away cruise port a day or two in advance. You can spend those early days in port getting acclimated to the time change so you don't collapse on your first day onboard.

Other tricks include not taking a nap on your first day and staying up until a reasonable bedtime; spending a lot of time outside to take in as much natural light as possible; and choosing a medical remedy, such as melatonin, which helps your body's circadian rhythms adjust to a new time zone. (But check with your doctor to make sure this option is right for you).

5: Wear Sunscreen. You can just as easily get sunburned walking the streets of Europe in the summer, kayaking or scenic cruising in Alaska, and doing just about anything in the strong sun of Australia as you can by lounging poolside. While it can be a pain to apply and re-apply your SPF 30, you will be in greater pain if you burn -- which can also prevent you from enjoying the next few days of your cruise.

6: Pace Yourself at the Buffet. It's very easy to eat yourself sick on a cruise ship, and night after night of rich, multi-course meals can take their toll on your tummy. You're less likely to feel queasy, bloated or sluggish if you eat wisely onboard. Plus, you won't come home weighing 10 pounds more than you did before vacation.

We're not saying to skip the bacon or the tiramisu, but do consider limiting yourself to one full plate at the buffet, skipping one course at dinner (or eating half of every dish) or having a light lunch so you can indulge more at night.

Also, if you eat at a slower pace, you will more thoroughly enjoy your food. Just make sure to stop eating when you're full. Remember, you're on a cruise ship. There will always be more goodies to savor whenever you get hungry again.

7: Chew Ginger Candies. Or eat green apples, wear acupressure wristbands, head outside for fresh air, look at the horizon, or book a low-deck, mid-ship cabin. Why? All of these tricks are ways to beat seasickness. You can also take over-the-counter meds like Dramamine, or ask your doctor about the Transderm patch. Alternately, book a very port-intensive itinerary (try Oceania or Azamara in order to spend as few days at sea as possible. River cruising on Europe's normally placid waters is also a good bet for those worried about seasickness. And, Alaska's Inside Passage voyages are typically calm.

Staying Healthy On a Cruise

8: Take the Stairs. It's quite tempting to become a daiquiri-guzzling, lounge chair-hogging, late-sleeping, food-demolishing couch potato on a cruise -- especially on warm-weather itineraries with lots of sea days. And, while you shouldn't have to spend your vacation sweating it out in the gym, it's not a bad idea to slot a little bit of movement into your lazy, crazy days of cruising.

One easy way to do this is to take the stairs. Not only will you use your muscles a bit every day, but you won't have to stand around waiting for an elevator. Another option is to take advantage of the promenade deck or outdoor jogging track to take a brisk walk.

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