Adventure cruising offers something different to the typical voyage: a chance to access truly remote parts of the world in small groups. But the flip side is that you will be in close quarters with strangers – you usually pay for a bed, not a cabin – and keeping yourself healthy in close quarters can pose problems. So how do you survive your first trip? Here’s our guide to avoiding cabin fever…
Sharing a cabin
Unlike luxury cruising, on adventure voyages (especially on expeditions) it is likely that you won’t have a cabin to yourself, which means sharing with strangers. This can unsettle those who enjoy their privacy, but at least you all have something in common. “Fellow passengers on adventure cruises tend to have similar interests in wildlife, travel and the activities you do,” explains Douglas Ward, author of Berlitz’s River Cruising in Europe. Talking to your roommates about the trip ahead can make for an easy icebreaker.
Another thing you should establish early on is your ‘zone’. Claim your cupboard space and personal areas, to avoid confusion down the line. Make sure to ask about anything that is a must for you in the cabin (such as the choice between top or bottom bunk) and be ready to come to a compromise if each of you want the same. “Communication and respect for each other’s space is the main soother,” advises expedition cruise leader David McGonigal. “Make sure to give your cabin mate some privacy as well. Grab a tea or coffee when they’re due to come out of the shower, for example.”
Pack earplugs in case you’re sharing with a snorer. Eye masks are also essential, in case your cabin mate likes to read late at night, or for the almost 24-hour sunshine that accompanies any voyages to the far northern or southern poles during summer.
With space at a premium, illness and bugs can spread quickly. “Hand sanitiser stations are usually based throughout ships as an easy way of cleaning your hands,” says Rachel Hilton, a longtime adventure-cruise-operator employee. It’s worth carrying pocket sanitiser with you, though, to use before eating.
“Although river ships carry first-aid kits, they will not generally have a doctor or nurse on board,” adds Douglas. “Being close to land, emergency arrangements can be made quickly, but be sure to take any medical supplies with you that you might need.”
For expedition cruises, at least one doctor will be on board. Nevertheless, take all the medication you may need for the length of your trip, and if it needs to be kept chilled, ask before you book to see if your ship has an in-cabin mini-fridge.
Ships in today’s age are fitted with stabilisers – large underwater fins on each side of the hull – which largely counteract any rolling movement, and most of your journey will be relatively calm. But in the event of rough waters, there are several preventative measures you can take.
Lectures and talks are often held in darkened rooms (not ideal for seasickness), but you can usually watch them on a TV screen remotely from your cabin, where you can lie down to counteract any queasiness. Fresh air always helps, and employing the age-old sailors’ advice of concentrating on the horizon often does the trick. But if you’re suffering the on-board doctor can prescribe medication to prevent motion sickness.