<p> You&#39;ve just booked your dream vacation &mdash;a cruise aboard a luxury liner bound for St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Antigua, Barbados and St. Lucia.</p> <p> Imagine the scrumptious food, the late-night romantic dinners, the fabulous entertainment, the enchanting islands, the beautiful beaches and sparkling blue water.</p> <p> Now imagine: vomiting, <a href="">diarrhea</a>, fever, headaches and stomach cramps. On top of that, your three-carat diamond engagement ring gets stolen.</p> <p> We&#39;ve all read the horror stories about the cruises from hell. In many cases, hundreds of passengers are felled by the dreaded <a href="">norovirus</a>, an extremely contagious stomach bug that spreads quickly in enclosed spaces through an infected person&#39;s feces or vomit, and often by unwashed hands.</p> <p> Yuck. It&#39;s enough to make you queasy before you even set foot on the ship.</p> <p> While there are no guarantees that you won&#39;t be hit with this nasty bug on your next cruise, there are some precautions you can take to cut your risk of getting sick &mdash;or being victimized &mdash;as you experience the indulgent pleasures aboard a luxurious sailing vessel.</p> <p> [<a href="">5 Ways to Keep Your Gadgets Safe During Summer Travel</a>]</p>

Practice safe hygiene

<p> &quot;The No. 1 thing is practicing general hygiene,&quot; said Colleen McDaniel, managing editor of the Cruise Critic website. &quot;You can&#39;t control what anybody else does on a cruise ship, but you can control what you do.&quot;</p> <p> That means washing your hands a lot more that you typically would, and using <a href="">anti-bacterial hand sanitizer</a> before grabbing the serving spoon and digging into the eggs Benedict.</p> <p> &quot;Washing your hands is the best thing to do,&quot; McDaniel said. &quot;That&#39;s not groundbreaking, but when you have that many people in one place, you&#39;ve got to look out for yourself.&quot;</p> <p> [<a href="">On the Road: 7 Safety Tips for Women Driving Alone</a>]</p>

Bring the Lysol

<p> &quot;Some people bring the pocket-size Lysol and they wipe down the hard surfaces in their cabins,&quot; McDaniel said. &quot;They&#39;ll spray down air vents with it. It&#39;s an extra [precaution] to take. You might also want to wash the glasses that are in your cabin.&quot;</p> <p> McDaniel said those sorts of things are what stewards might not think to do. It&#39;s also probably a good idea to take some <a href="">sanitizing wipes</a> with you to wipe down door handles and stair railings.</p> <p> [<a href="">Fecal Matter Lurks on 1 in 6 Mobile Phones</a>]</p>

Hit the bottle

<p> Although the water on cruise ships is normally safe to drink, some people like to bring their own bottled water, or buy it onboard. However, in some destinations, it&#39;s not safe to drink the water once you&#39;re on land.</p> <p> &quot;You should know ahead of time where you should <a href="">avoid drinking the water</a>,&quot; McDaniel said.</p> <p> &quot;Preparation is important. Don&#39;t just think the water will be safe,&quot; she added. &quot;But for the most part, a cruise line won&#39;t go somewhere the water is unsafe, or they&#39;ll inform their passengers.&quot;</p> <p> [<a href="">Tech Travel Tip: Assume Your Devices Will Be Compromised</a>]</p>

Don&#39;t be like Pinocchio &mdash; tell the truth

<p> When people board ships, cruise lines ask them to fill out a form indicating whether they&#39;ve suffered <a href="">symptoms of certain illnesses</a> in the past week or so.</p> <p> &quot;I would certainly hope people tell the truth,&quot; McDaniel said.</p> <p> You&#39;ll probably still be allowed to board even if you disclose a recent illness, but the ship&#39;s medical staff might confine you to your cabin for a day.</p> <p> Remember, your nose might not grow if you lie, but it&#39;s probably a sure bet that the number of passengers getting sick will certainly increase. So if you don&#39;t want your fellow shipmates throwing up &mdash; or worse &mdash; all over the vessel, tell the truth.</p> <p> [<a href="">7 Tips to Protect Your Money While on Vacation</a>]</p>

Leave the family jewels at home

<p> &quot;Don&#39;t take your valuables with you under any circumstance,&quot; said Christopher Elliott, reader advocate for National Geographic Traveler magazine and a travel columnist for the Washington Post.</p> <p> &quot;I&#39;ve talked to people who have brought their jewels along. That&#39;s just stupid,&quot; he added. &quot;If you look at the contract between you and the cruise line, they have very limited liability.&quot;</p> <p> Even if you keep your <a href="">valuables</a> in the safe in your cabin, you probably won&#39;t get much more than a couple hundred dollars from the ship&#39;s management if they&#39;re stolen, Elliott said.</p> <p> &quot;If you take jewelry along, bring the fakes,&quot; Elliott said. &quot;And never leave anything of value, including electronics, <a href="">paper documents</a>, heirlooms in the luggage that you check. Take those things to your cabin with you.&quot;</p> <p> So where should you keep valuable items?</p> <p> &quot;The safe in your room is pretty meaningless,&quot; Elliott said. &quot;The safe that you can put valuables in is the manager&#39;s safe at the front desk, and they&#39;ll give you a receipt for it. But really you shouldn&#39;t be cruising with anything of value.&quot;</p> <p> [<a href="">7 Hotel Safety and Security Tips</a>]</p>

Boozin&#39; and cruisin&#39; don&#39;t mix

<p> In terms of your personal safety, you&#39;re only asking for trouble if you spend the night bellied up to the bar.</p> <p> &quot;After a long night of <a href="">drinking</a>, you lose the ability to make good decisions, so you could end up going overboard,&quot; Elliott said. &quot;But don&#39;t do your best &#39;Titanic&#39; impression even when you&#39;re sober. That&#39;s just common sense.</p> <p> &quot;When it comes to most of the reports of robbery, sexual assaults, any kind of inappropriate contact between the crew and passengers, passengers and passengers &mdash;there&#39;s usually alcohol involved,&quot; Elliott added. &quot;So if you cut out the alcohol, you&#39;re probably cutting out half or more of the potential for risk.&quot;</p> <p> [<a href="">13 Tips to Keep Your Devices Safe While Traveling</a>]</p>

6 Tips for a Safe and Healthy Cruise