Ah, cruising is the life. Youre practically waited on hand and foot. With all of the cool activities on board( IMAX, gambling, facials !) youre never bored; theres yummy food galore; and the booze is flowing. But before you leave port, here are a few pointers you should know to avoid getting sick or injured at sea.

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Dont buy health insurance from the cruise line

When you volume your journey you may be offered insurance. But its likely best to pass, said industry expert Ross Klein, PhD, who runs the site CruiseJunkie.com. While health insurance is certainly a good idea( a medevac can expense more than $100 K ), ideally you want your insurer to be independent of the cruise line to avoid a conflict of interest, he explains. Check with your own health insurance company to find what expenses are encompassed abroad. If you need extra coverage, consider short-term supplemental travel insurance. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention( CDC) offers guidelines to help you select a good policy.

Dont go without getting your shots

The CDC urges cruisers to make sure theyre up to date on routine inoculations like measles/ mumps/ rubella, since youll be living in close quarters with crew and fellow passengers from countries where these diseases are more common. You should also look up each of the ship’s destinations to check for health alerts, and any additional vaccine or medication recommendations.

Dont get too paranoid about the buffet

Self-serve snacks might give you the heebie-jeebies, but you can trust that the food served on American cruise ships is safe to eat, said Sarah Krieger, MPH, RDN, a nutritionist who specializes in food safety issues. Dishes are held at the proper temperature and consistently monitored. But if youre worried, Krieger indicates sticking to food that is steaming hot, and skipping food that’s at at room temp, and thus carries a higher hazard of pathogens. And needless to say, if something looks bad, steer clear.

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But dont go crazy at the buffet either

The biggest buffet hazard, says Krieger, is approaching it like a personal eating challenge: Food is everywhere on a cruise, ” she said, which stimulates it all too easy to overindulge and come back with extra protrusions you didnt want. Kreigers tip: Try to strike a balance between food thats nutritious( veggies) and food that feeds your spirit( ice cream !). For instance, Krieger said, if you have Belgian waffles and bacon for breakfast, choose a Caprese salad for lunch, and a lean burger and glass of wine at dinner.

Dont eat too late at night

It never passes to you to have a pizza snack after dinneruntil you get on a barge. Jimmy Minardi, a personal trainer on Long Island, New York, advises his clients to close the kitchen( so to speak) two hours after the sunshine goes down.

Late night feeing is the kiss of death. Theres a lot of drinking involved on a cruise and the combination of food and booze basically turns you into a sloth, he said.

Besides, food digests better when youre moving aroundnot when youre trying to catnap on a heavy belly.

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Dont get your teeth whitened

Cruise ships often offer teeth whitening sessionsand they are not a good idea, said Clifton M. Carey, PhD, a prof at the School of Dental Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Sure, you want a sparkling vacay picture-worthy smile. But whitening on the high seas can necessitate serious risks. For one, its unlikely that a professional dentist will perform the procedure. And two, once a cruise ship is in international waters, they can use incredibly aggressive whitening ingredients on teeth, Carey said. This can destroy the protein structure of teeth and can cause a lot of pain.

Dont drink the water

Youve heard this before, but if youre in a developing country, tap water, fountain drinks, freshly squeezed juice, and any liquor with ice in it can construct you ill if the water is contaminated.

As a foreign traveler personally, Ive been told that Americans are like newborn babiesvery fragile bodies when it comes to germs, Krieger said.

The water on the ship is likely to be safe to drink, but Krieger recommends that when youre on land, you opt for the safest possible alternative: bottled sparkling water.

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Dont hire a personal trainer

Its smart to stay active on holiday, but dont go, er, overboard. Hiring a personal trainer on a ship is expensive, and fitness classes, from spin to TRX, also expense extra. Save your fund, Minardi said.

There are plenty of things that are free that will keep you fit on vacation, Minardi said.

For example, there are stairs everywhere on cruise ships, so take a walk after every dinner. And when you get off the barge, explore the port cities on foot. Plus: When you hire a trainer on a ship, you dont know his or experience level, Minardi pointed out. What’s more, someone who find you only once or twice wont have time to learn about your strengths and weaknesses, and a shoulder stres is not the kind of souvenir you want.

Such articles originally appeared on Health.com .

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