Taking a Caribbean cruise when you’re only allowed very limited sun exposure requires some planning if you want to spend much time anywhere other than the inside portion of the ship. While I do normally avoid excessive sun exposure anyway, having been bitten by the nasty sort of tick on a trip to Vermont shortly before a cruise and having to take doxycycline for several weeks to prevent Lyme disease, I ended up being on doxycycline at the time of a Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas. I had booked this cruise months before the tick bite after years of wanting to sail on a ship of that class. One side effect of doxycycline is extreme sun sensitivity, thus the need for more sun avoidance than usual, which is not good for a Caribbean cruise.
We had a snorkel excursion planned for our trip, which I did not want to cancel. Instead I ordered a full-body UV swimsuit, which would provide better UV protection than sunscreen does. The benefits with this sort of outfit for anyone are not needing to use sunscreen everywhere it covers and being able to stay out in the water longer as you are better protected than with sunscreen. Of course on snorkel excursions water time is limited to whatever the excursion has scheduled, but there have been times when we’ve been snorkeling from the beach on our own that I’d have stayed out longer if it weren’t for sunburn concerns. Obviously only coral safe sunscreen should be used in tropical waters regardless of what a person wears, even with the UV suit where sunscreen is only needed on your face and other limited exposed skin. A UV suit is also great for the flowrider when sailing on one of Royal’s ships that has one. Besides offering more body protection from the board or potential wipeouts on the flowrider than a smaller swimsuit, it’s also helpful when waiting in line in the blazing sun and for sun protection on the flowrider itself which is out in the open on the top deck. And there’s no worries about your sun protection wearing off or washing off after time spent in the water either.
I ordered a 5-piece suit from a company called Light in the Box, whose expedited shipping proclaimed to take 9 days max, which just gave me a few days leeway. As it turned out they meant they would ship it in 9 days max, not that it would arrive in that amount of time. It also came direct from China rather than from New York as the website had implied. With just a few days left until leaving for my trip when I found this out, I had zero chance of this suit arriving on time. That’s not something any local stores would carry even in the summer, and this was a fall cruise so I had to find one somewhere at the last minute that would arrive in time.
I found another site called Modlily (which now goes by Calypsa) that had full body suits. I ordered online with the help of their chat person to be sure I only ordered things they had in stock that could ship overnight. This company is located in the USA and expedited shipping actually means you will get the product right away. This was a 3-piece suit that consisted of long pants with an attached skirt, a full-length top with ¾ sleeves, and a swim bra, which could be worn alone as a top. The shirt had scoop neck or high neck options and considering as little sun exposure as possible was the goal I ordered the high neck, but without the tick thing I’d actually have preferred the scoop neck both in looks and fit. This suit was more expensive than the other, but the product is of better quality. Most importantly it came when they said it would so I had it when I needed it the most.
The 5-piece suit arrived before my next cruise a couple months later on Celebrity Constellation so I tried it out then. The doxycycline was long in the past by then, but the UV swimsuit was still a nice addition to the vacation wardrobe. It came with bikini bottoms, long pants, a separate swim skirt that could go over either, a top similar to the swim bra that came with the other suit, and a jacket. What it did not have was a long top without the jacket so I ordered a tank-top style top from Calypsa so I’d have that option if I didn’t need the jacket and didn’t want an exposed middle. Having all the different pieces is nice and really useful because you have options for more of a regular swimsuit when you don’t need full coverage, but the option for full coverage when you do. Or for layering when you want all the options.
Both suits ran a bit tighter than expected when ordering according to what the size charts on their websites said would fit so when ordering the extra top to go with the 5-piece suit after the fact I went with a size bigger than what the chart said to buy. It was far easier to get on and off than the other pieces, though a bit looser than ideal so something in between the two sizes would have been perfect. If ordering again I’d go with the bit larger size in either brand.
For anyone who spends much time in the water whether it’s snorkeling, swimming, surfing, or any other watersport a full-body UV suit is a good investment as you can spend more time on the water without sunburning and use a whole lot less sunscreen. Another bonus is you can just wear your suit on excursions that take a boat to somewhere without the need for a coverup or other clothing over the top of your suit. It’s not the brand of swimsuit that matters, just that wearing one is beneficial both to yourself for better sunburn protection as well as money saved on sunscreen, and for the environment with a reduction in the use of sunscreen.
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