Cruise Passengers Warned of Health Risks for Cruising this Winter

Dr Graham Fry explains why Irish cruisers should take precautions before setting sail this winter

As we reach the end of the year, many people will already be planning their holidays for 2023, and cruise holidays are an increasingly popular method of holiday. Travelling by cruise, be it through domestic cruises or international ones, can increase the risk of several health problems.

Dr Graham Fry, Founder and Group Medical Director of the Tropical Medical Bureau – Ireland’s leading travel medicine clinic group, explains “it is vital to take necessary measures to avoid any kind of medical problems and to ensure a fun-filled cruise journey.”

Dr Fry has highlighted ways in which cruise passengers can protect themselves against the health risks associated with cruise travel.

Outbreaks of infectious diseases

Travelling on a cruise ship may increase the chance of getting Covid-19, influenza, acute gastroenteritis (gastro) and other infectious diseases. Additionally, there have been a number of reports of outbreaks of vomiting and diarrhoea, largely caused by norovirus.

Respiratory tract illnesses are also very common on cruise ships. It is possible for travellers to bring influenza viruses from different parts of the world where seasonal influenza is prevalent. Crew members who serve passengers run the risk of becoming reservoirs for influenza infection and may spread the disease to passengers on subsequent cruises.

Precautions before departure

“It is highly advisable for travellers to consult their doctor or travel medical professionals before leaving for a trip by sea. During that consultation the duration of travel, the nations being visited, and the likely activities while on shore will be discussed. It is particularly important for travellers with existing medical conditions or high-risk groups to do a medical check and carry the required medications to cover their entire trip.”

A medical check-up would be helpful to be aware of any prevention measures and vaccinations that need to be taken.

Medications to pack

Dr Fry advises to consult your doctor and be sure to carry all the prescribed medications in the original packet or container along with a doctor’s letter. Especially, if you are prone to motion sickness, talk to your doctor about medicine to decrease your symptoms. Also, it’s crucial to note that many common medications like antidepressants, painkillers, and birth control pills can have an adverse effect on seasickness.

In order to be protective against Covid-19 and other common viruses, it’s better to carry your masks and hand sanitiser for the trip.

Required vaccinations

A point Dr Fry stresses is the importance of relevant vaccinations.

“Whether it’s a short or a longer sea journey, it’s best to be up to date on routine vaccines such as measles/mumps/rubella, varicella, seasonal flu, and Covid-19. Also, check for immunization and other recommendations (e.g., malaria) that may apply to each country on the itinerary. Depending on where you’ll stop and what you’ll do there, you may require additional vaccinations”

It’s also highly important to check for the Covid-19 measures of the country that you are visiting. Don’t forget to check with your cruise operator or travel agent for more information on pre-departure Covid-19 testing requirements. Dr Fry says,

“It is advisable to take the booster shot for Covid-19 before travelling to protect yourself from any Covid-19 outbreak, as viruses transmit easily and quickly between people interacting closely together, particularly in indoor areas.”

Dr Fry also recommends to take an Antigen Test before travelling to avoid the risk of you infecting your co-passengers while at sea.

Necessary precautions whilst on board

While on the cruise, access to healthcare may be both limited and expensive. For instance, comprehensive medical supplies may not be enough to meet demand, and immediate medical evacuation to a hospital on land may not always be feasible. For those with underlying serious conditions, it is best to check about the medical facilities on the cruise before booking your tickets.

Furthermore, it’s essential to carry your required medications in more quantity than usual just in case you end up staying longer than expected.

“To prevent yourself from getting sick, basic measures such as frequent handwashing and coughing or sneezing into a tissue and not your hand can be effective. Moreover, it’s also a good idea to avoid touching your face” Dr Fry advises.

Stay protected for your travels with TMB. Book your travel vaccinations at


For comments / interview opportunities, please contact Ali Finnegan,, +353 860492394

Dr Graham Fry – Founder and Group Medical Director

The Tropical Medical Bureau was founded in 1986 by Dr Graham Fry. As a leading Tropical Medical Consultant in the country, Dr Fry plays a pivotal role in the organisation, whether consulting with patients, lecturing to medical students in Trinity College or dealing with media focussed tropical issues on radio and television. His enormous medical experience and expertise in technology have combined to ensure that the TMB occupies national pride of place in tropical medical care.

About Tropical Medical Bureau Group

The Tropical Medical Bureau Group (encompassing Nomad Travel in the UK) is the leading travel medicine clinic group in Ireland, specialists in providing the best information and medical care available for the international traveller. Collectively, the TMB Group sees approximately 60,000 patients on an annual basis, ranging from the private holidaymaker to employees of commercial companies, and overseas volunteers to NGO’s and Government departments, all of whom benefit from the expertise of our highly experienced clinic staff.

Since it was founded in 1988, TMB has undergone major growth and expansion to currently encompass 27 clinics, 20 clinics in Ireland (four base clinics and 16 associate clinics). In 2016, TMB acquired Nomad Travel Clinics in the UK. Nomad Travel Clinics has 30 years experience in travel health, pharmacy & retail, throughout 7 clinics across the UK.

What distinguishes TMB is our vast experience and expertise, as well as our superb patient aftercare. All our patients have a detailed consultation with one of our specialised healthcare staff. This covers everything from food and water risks, mosquito avoidance, malaria and thrombosis, as well as risks associated from altitude exposure, and also Zika and COVID-19 risks, which may be associated with your trip. Following a detailed consultation, we then decide on which travel vaccines and malaria tablets are appropriate. Our specialised travel medicine software is constantly being updated with travel news, so if anything is happening in your destination that you need to be aware of, we’ll make sure you are.