Sunburn Prevention Tips

If you have been blessed with skin that doesn’t burn in the sun, then you are one of the lucky ones who need read no further.   However if you are like me and you sun burn in as little as 30 minutes, then you’ll want to make sure that you don’t make the mistake of ruining your vacation with a painful sunburn.

As one who has gotten too much sun while on a tropical vacation,  I can tell you that it is miserable to spend most of your holiday with a painful sunburn.  You can’t sleep. Every movement hurts, and you don’t want anyone touching you.    As a kid I took a walk down the beach one the afternoon in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  We decided to take a dip in the ocean before we turned back to walk home.   That dip washed off my sunscreen and our walk back to the beach house was to the East with the afternoon sun behind us. The result was a very bad burn on the backs of my legs that had me laying on my stomach inside the beach house for the next two days  and begging for Soloarcaine.    In 1993,  my husband and I took a trip to Mactan Island, Philippines.  On my first day there,  I decided to get just a little sun.  We were having such a nice time chatting with other guests and drinking our tropical drinks that pretty soon that little bit of sun turned into a horribly painful sunburn.   I was pretty much miserable for the rest of our trip.   Your cruise vacation is too important to let a sunburn ruin it, so I offer the following tips to keep you sunburn free.

Wear Sun Proof Clothing

After that ill fated trip to the Philippines, I realized that one of the stupidest things we do as human beings is wearing the least amount of clothing (Swimsuits) when we are in the sun for the longest amount of time (by the pool or at the beach).  Recently British Chef and TV Personality Nigella Lawson, caused quite a stir when she choose to wear a “Burkini” on Australia’s Bondi beach.   The suit covered her from ankle to head and even included a little peaked visor to keep the sun off her face.   While many in the press mocked her choice, can you blame her for wanting to protect her skin from sun burn.   She probably had a great day at the beach and only had to think about sunscreen for her face, hands and feet.

I  addressed my need to wear more protective swimwear  a few years ago when I moved to Arizona.  I noticed that even though I was wearing sun screen all the time I was still getting burns and sun damaged skin.   I did some research online and found swimwear that I could order from Australia that provided me with much more coverage than a traditional swim suit.    While not as covering as a burkini, my suit, called a C-Suit, by C Wear,  resembles a wet suit but is made of a lightweight but tightly woven fabric that provides a sun protection factor of 50 that won’t wash off.    C-Wear started making the suits to combat the high rates of skin cancer in Australia.

I don’t see to many others wearing this type of suit,  however the “Rash Guard” or “Swim Shirt” has gained popularity, especially in areas where surfing and beach life are popular.     These shirts come in long and short sleeves and provide an SPF of 50.  They are made of a lightweight material that dries quickly  and doesn’t become heavy or loose its sun protection when wet.    They often come in bold prints as well as basic solid colors.   These types of shirts can be purchased in almost any surfing wear store, sporting goods stores and at many different online outlets, including Amazon.   My teenage kids now prefer these types of shirts to be worn over their regular swim suits rather than the full C-Suit.    The best part of wearing more protective swimwear is that it doesn’t wash off, provides instant protection, and provides you with modest attire when going to or from the beach or pool.

Wear a Hat

A hat makes a big difference on how much sun you get on your face, ears, and neck.   I prefer a broad brimmed hat that not only shades my face, but also my ears and neck.    Many men prefer to wear a ball cap, but  a style with a brim all the way around like a   golf hat, fishing cap, or Panama Jack will provide more coverage.   Men and women who have thinning hair should never go out in the sun with out some sort of head covering.     I even wear my hat in the water.    Many companies market packable and or water proof sun hats that are perfect to take along on a cruise ship.    The cruise ship gift shops also carry a selection of sun hats.

Apply and Reapply Sun Screen

You can never be to generous with sun screen.   You’ll use less if you are wearing sun protective swim wear or swim shirts, but be sure to apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more to any areas that are exposed.   You should re-apply about every hour whether you are swimming or not.    Be sure to apply to sometimes forgotten places like the back of the neck, tops of feet, and between the shoulder blades on the back.   Some sunscreens go on tinted and then fade as they dry so that the user gets visual confirmation that all exposed areas have been covered.

Rent a Cabana or Umbrella

Shade is your friend when you are on a cruise.    Many beaches have chair and umbrella rentals for reasonable prices.  Even the cruise ships themselves are now offering cabanas.  Some ships have free ones that are available first come first serve.  Others are also offering deluxe cabana’s that can be rented for the entire day.     If you are going to be spending much of your port day on the beach,  you may want to rent a lounger and umbrella.   Often they come with a couple of cold tropical drinks or beers.

Don’t Drink and Sun

If you have taken all of the above precautions you are probably safe to enjoy a few alcoholic beverages, but don’t even think about indulging if you haven’t.   Drinking and lying unprotected in the sun is a sure ticket to a bad sunburn.    There was an Scotsman on my Hawaiian cruise that was having a particularly  good time enjoying many activities while on the way to Hawaii.   Then on the first day at sea on the way back, he had a little too much to drink and fell asleep in the sun.    He had to spend the next few days in bed because his sunburn was so bad.   We all want to relax and have a good time, but don’t make the mistake of having those first few afternoon drinks when you haven’t properly protected yourself from the sun first.

Avoid Direct Sun Mid Day

It is best to avoid the sun between 10 am and 3 pm.   During these hours you might do better to limit your time in the sun to 30 minutes or less.  If you want to sit out by the pool you can cover up with a hat and towell or sit in a shaded area.

Remember Tropical Sun Is More Intense

If you live a a place like New York or Chicago, or even Georgia or Texas, the time it takes you to get a sunburn will be longer at those latitudes than it is in the tropical sun.   The sun rays are more direct in the tropics year round, so know that you’ll burn about twice as fast.

Don’t Think a Tan Protects You

Don’t think that a tan protects you.  Some people get a base tan at a tanning booth before they go on vacation, only to find that the intense rays of the tropics burn right through that tan.    The base tan will prematurely age skin and could lead to skin cancer.  Others choose a spray tan which dies the skin darker, but provides no protection from the rays of the sun.    The spray tan may keep you from looking ghostly pale, but be sure to apply as much sunscreen as you would to lily white skin.

Don’t try to get “just a little sun”

This is a “Learn From My Fail” kind of tip.   Every time I’ve decided to get “just a little sun” I’ve ended up with a horrible sunburn, so my advice is: don’t do it!  Either get the spray tan or learn to love you pasty skin.

Don’t Sleep in the Sun

This is another sure ticket to a burn.   If you want to take a nap either make sure you are in a shady area that won’t become sunny as the sun moves, or go to your cabin.


I hope that by following these tips you’ll avoid the pain of a sunburn and have a wonderful cruise vacation.