5 Tips for Cruising With a Chronically Ill Spouse

When you’re finally able to get away from it all and have a vacation, the last thing you want is to have your partner regret traveling with a chronically ill spouse. Cruises are meant to be relaxing and enjoyable, which is why communication with your spouse or travel companion is vital, before and during your cruise.

If your partner works outside the home, they’re not going to witness the ins and outs of your daily routine. And while parts of your habits may be commonplace for everyone, other elements may be specifically related to your chronic illness or pain.

It’s important to discuss what is most important to each of you for the cruise, as well as any concerns either of you, may have. This open communication will alleviate or significantly reduce the chance of misunderstandings that result in conflict. (and this works when you’re not traveling, too!)

5 Tips for cruising with a chronically ill spouse:

1. Sleep Schedules. Take a look at your sleep patterns when you’re home. Are the two of you in sync? If not, how will you adapt your schedules while on the ship?

Figuring this out in advance will make all the difference. You will be less inclined to take on guilt for not keeping up with your partner, and they won’t build resentments. Does one of you like to work out in the early morning, while the other needs to sleep later? How does staying up late impact your body the following day? Knowing what your body needs and meeting those needs will ensure your days get off to a good start.

2. Getting Cleaned Up. When it comes to showering, getting dressed, makeup, hair, etc., your routine likely depends on whether or not you’re working outside your home. If you’re at home during the day and your spouse is gone, they probably don’t have a clear understanding of how you handle these things.

When living with a chronic illness, each day is always a little different, depending on how you’re feeling and whether you need to leave the house. More often than not, the mere act of taking a shower, shaving your legs, and doing your hair will wear you out. And on those awful days, you might feel accomplished if the only thing you get done is washing the critical body parts.

Once you know what activities you’re planning for the day, schedule in time to get yourself cleaned up. You don’t have to do everything all at once, either. Pace yourself.

3. Activities & Sightseeing. Whether one partner has health issues or not, planning and discussion about ship activities and sightseeing before you leave home is always a wise move. Cruise travel is vastly different than traveling to a place like New York City. They both require planning when traveling with a chronically ill spouse, but the issues to consider are different.

Take the time to discuss the onboard activities and port excursions you are each interested in. The offerings differ by ship and cruise itinerary, however, almost every cruise offers optional tours in port cities. Start here to get an idea of what’s available and whether you want to book anything in advance. Be honest about any limitations or concerns you have, and when in doubt, reach out to to the cruise company directly to get your questions answered before booking.

By planning your port city activities first, you’ll be better prepared to schedule specialty dining or onboard events, including shows requiring advance reservations. Then, once you’re on board, you can view the daily schedule for additional activities happening.

4. Nightlife & Drinking. One of the things people love about cruising in addition to seeing lots of places without having to change hotel rooms is the abundance of choices for things to do. Nightlife on a cruise ship includes shows, comedy clubs, piano music, dancing and more. And those events and venues all have bars.

Decide before you leave home, whether attending these nighttime events is something one or both of you are interested in experiencing. And if you’re taking any medications, be sure to understand how they interact with alcohol before you begin your cruise.

5. Intimacy & Sex. Lots of people prefer spontaneous sex vs. planning for it. However, when someone has a chronic illness or is living with chronic pain, failing to talk about sex, often results in no sex at all. And that can lead to all kinds of other issues, including resentment, whether you’re traveling or staying home!

From a practical standpoint, planning for sex when traveling with a chronically ill spouse means you may need to pack certain things. Whether condoms, toys, lube, or other items you enjoy together. This is one area where you can’t afford to leave things to chance. And planning will even allow you to be more spontaneous sexually while on your cruise!


Traveling with a chronically ill spouse will have the two of you spending a lot more time together than when you’re at home. It will also give the non-ill partner a close-up view of a day in the life and more compassion for your daily experiences.

Regardless of which one of you is living with a chronic illness or chronic pain, you’re in this together. Cruising is meant to be relaxing and enjoyable.

Taking the time to communicate with each other about your concerns and hopes for your trip will make your next cruise more enjoyable for both of you.

Share this post with someone who wants to travel with a chronically ill spouse.

This post was previously published on Annpeck.com and is republished here with permission from the author.

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