Hot tubs are popular on a cruise ship, but there are many reasons why I never set foot in a cruise hot tub. From the risk of infection to the risk of heart attacks, hot tubs can be dangerous. Here are reasons why I’m skipping the hot tub on my next cruise.
Reasons to Avoid the Cruise Ship Hot Tub
1. The Germs in the Hot Tub
Cruise hot tubs are a breeding ground for germs and parasites. The CDC warns hot tub users to avoid swallowing the water or even getting it in their mouths. Hot tubs are breeding grounds for Cryptosporidium (Crypto) and Legionella pneumophila (Legionnaires’ disease).
Crypto is a parasite that lives in fecal matter and can cause gastrointestinal illnesses, including diarrhea. It can be spread by an infected person using a hot tub.
Legionnaires’ disease can result in a pneumonia-like lung infection that is potentially serious for anyone ages 50 and older. Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches.
Older adults, as well as young children, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems, are more susceptible to these germs and parasites. This is a major reason why I avoid the hot tubs on a cruise ship!
2. Risk of Heart Attack
Being in a hot tub will increase your risk of a cardiac event including a heart attack! When you’re in a hot tub, your body temperature rises, and the body produces sweat to cool you down. However, this process is less effective in a hot tub, making it easier to overheat.
As a result, your blood vessels expand to try to release the heat, diverting blood from your core and increasing your heart rate. For those with heart disease, this may lead to low blood pressure, dizziness, nausea, irregular heart rhythms, poor blood flow, and even heart attack.
Definitely avoid the cruise hot tub if you’re taking certain medications such as blood pressure medications (beta-blockers) and diuretics. These can put you at higher risk for heat-related problems.
3. Too Crowded
Hot tubs are a popular spot on a cruise ship, but they can get really crowded, especially on sea days. Some cruise hot tubs are so big, they can fit 12 people! The worst part is that you’ll be in a crowded hot tub with adults holding cocktails and beer and also kids getting in and out.
It’s really not a fun way to spend your sea day in a crowded hot tub! Instead, you might want to do other relaxing activities instead, such as a spa treatment, afternoon tea, or simply lounging on a deck chair with a good book.
4. Skin Rash
One of the reasons why I avoid the cruise hot tub is because I don’t want to get a skin rash or “hot tub rash.” It’s a skin infection that can affect hair follicles and result in red, itchy skin and pus-filled blisters.
The hot tub rash is caused by a bacteria called pseudomonas which can survive and multiply in a hot tub’s biofilm (the slimy substance in a hot tub).
You can develop a rash wherever your skin comes in contact with the hot tub water, so people will often find a rash pattern similar to their bathing suits.
If you do go in the hot tub, make sure you shower immediately and wash your bathing suit thoroughly!
5. Hot Tubs Can Make You Feel Dizzy
Another reason to avoid hot tubs on cruise ships is that it can make you feel dizzy. It’s easy to lose track of time and stay in the hot tub longer than your body can take it.
Hot tubs have timers for a reason. When the water jets turn off, it’s a good idea to take a break too. This is especially true for older adults whose ability to regulate their body temperatures is compromised by age.
Since the heat from a hot tub expands blood vessels, causing blood pressure to drop, people who already have low blood pressure can pass out in a hot tub, which can lead to drowning.
Drinking alcohol while using a hot tub can also combine with the heat to lower blood pressure and impair judgment. Feeling woozy, combined with slippery surfaces, can cause slip-and-fall accidents and an increased drowning risk.
6. Risk of Falls
Hot tubs can be slippery and there are usually multiple steps to get in and out of the cruise hot tub. If you’re prone to falling or you are just clumsy, it’s best to avoid the cruise hot tub because you don’t want to slip getting in and out of the hot tub.
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7. Stay a Few Feet Away from Cruise Hot Tubs
Did you know you can catch Legionnaire’s disease from hot tubs by being near it (you don’t even have to go in!) When you’re near a hot tub, there’s a risk of inhaling contaminated water vapor emitted from the hot tub. That means that even if you don’t go into the hot tub, you can still get sick.
Legionella (Legionnaires’ disease) likes warm water, and when chlorine or bromine levels drop, the bacteria can survive and multiply in the slime, called biofilm, that appears on the walls of some hot tubs. That’s why you should never touch the slimy substance in or near a hot tub!
According to the CDC, if you are 50 and older, have weakened immune systems or a former smoker, don’t even sit near a hot tub- you are susceptible to the water vapor that can make you sick!
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