Surviving a Cruise on Immunosuppressants

A few months ago I said I would post soon about the cruise I was going on and Entyvio Connect. Well, I still haven’t completely figured out Entyvio Connect, but I did survive the cruise! It didn’t go perfectly smoothly, but I did get through it without any major incidents.

In March, we went on a three-night Disney Cruise to the Bahamas with my in-laws. Since my ulcerative colitis is not active right now (thankfully), my main concern was being on multiple immunosuppressants (Entyvio and 6MP) and getting sick. We’ve all heard horror stories about cruises and norovirus, and I was afraid I wouldn’t get through a weekend on a boat full of kids without coming down with something.

Before the trip, I asked my doctor what precautions I needed to take. She said to only drink bottled water the entire time, not to eat any raw foods (such as raw lettuce, sushi, etc.), and to wash my hands a lot. Sounded doable. A wrinkle popped up when I found out Zika had spread to the Bahamas. I’m not planning on getting pregnant, but was worried about how serious Zika is for someone with a weakened immune system. My doctor’s office basically said they don’t know the answer to that, and it was up to me whether or not to take the risk. Not super comforting. After panicking, with help from my sister-in-law (who is also on an immunosuppressant) and my therapist, I managed to calm down about that.

A few days before the trip, I had a bit of a meltdown where I got really worried about how I would manage to only drink bottled water. I drink a lot of water. After some frantic internet searching, I figured out that you can order bottled water ahead of time and have it waiting in your room when you arrive. (You can also bring it onboard with you, but we were flying and then taking the Disney shuttle from the airport, so that didn’t work for us.) So we ordered the biggest package option there was, which made me feel a lot better. I’m glad we did that since it was not as easy as I expected to figure out where on the boat to buy bottled water and it was hard to carry a bunch back to the room.

Eating raw foods wasn’t much of a problem, since I don’t really eat too many raw foods anyway. It also wasn’t a problem finding foods I could eat, since apparently cruises are all about eating and you can find whatever you want at all hours of the day or night. Zika turned out not to be a problem either; I wore bug spray on the beach and didn’t see a single mosquito the entire trip.

Apparently cruises are mostly about eating. And in this case, Mickey.

Apparently cruises are mostly about eating. And in this case, Mickey.

So that brings us to getting sick. In the afternoon of our first full day there, my husband told me he felt achy. Then he skipped dinner, and was in bed all night with chills and thought he might have a fever. Of course I started to panic that he was getting the flu and that I would get it also. Luckily, there are lots of things to do on a Disney Cruise to distract you, such as watching Moana. The next morning we went to the health center on the boat and it turned out he didn’t have a fever. He was feeling better by the end of the day, and I didn’t get sick. I did get a mild cold a few weeks later (my second one in a little over a month), but that wasn’t a big deal.

I don’t have a lot of great advice, except to talk to your doctor beforehand, do as much planning and preparation as you can, and try not to panic. If I was having a flare, everything would have been a lot harder and I’m not sure what I would have done. But just because you’re on immunosuppressants doesn’t mean you can’t survive a vacation like this.

Have you traveled while on immunosuppressants? Share your stories in the comments!