The Common Phrase Regular Cruisers Keep In Mind To Avoid Illness

If you've been on a cruise lately, you may have noticed workers around the buffet wielding hand sanitizer and saying an unusual phrase: "Washy washy!" On some cruises you might be greeted by an enthusiastic "Mr. Washy," while on others you might hear campy covers of classic songs remixed to include the phrase. It might sound silly (and it is), but there is actually a very good reason for workers on cruise ships to do their best to remind guests to washy washy their hands.

As the mysterious illness spreading across the Queen Victoria cruise ship has shown, disease outbreaks of all kinds are extremely common on cruise ships. This became the subject of several major news stories in 2020 when a few cruise ships, like the infamous Diamond Princess, became deadly superspreader events. This isn't a new thing, though. Cruise ships have always had outbreaks of head colds and stomach bugs that turn a fun vacation into a disgusting nightmare full of coughing, sneezing, and rushing to the bathroom.

Does washing your hands actually help?

Whether or not having workers on cruise ships use a goofy phrase or jingle to remind guests to keep their hands clean actually works, it's great advice, and first-time cruisers and savvy travelers alike would be wise to remember it. While on board a cruise, you're spending a lot of time close to other people and touching a lot of things that they've touched. If you want to go on a cruise, that comes with the territory, but keeping your hands clean can mitigate some of the risks to you and your fellow passengers.

The CDC agrees with Mr. Washy — you should always wash your hands before you eat. They also advise washing your hands after using handrails, elevator buttons, and door knobs that other people have been using all day. Washing with soap and water and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds is always the best way, but if you really can't get to a sink, hand sanitizer is a great second choice. Fortunately, you can usually get some hand sanitizer from the crew members singing, "washy washy, happy happy."

Why everyone remembers washy washy

On some cruise ships, employees have taken the phrase washy washy to the extreme, with some even working the phrase into songs like "I Want It That Way" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and coming up with new lyrics about the importance of scrubbing up with soap and water before eating. On some ships, an employee wearing a floral Mr. Washy sash waits in front of the hand-washing station calling out individual guests and reminding them to wash their hands before entering the buffet.

Rather than a dull reminder, washy washy has become almost an inside joke for those who regularly enjoy cruises. While being reminded to wash your hands or urged to use hand sanitizer might be annoying to some guests, these crew members go out of their way to keep guests entertained and laughing while ensuring everyone on board stays healthy. If these silly improvised songs and baby-talk phrases help encourage people to take sanitization seriously, who wouldn't like washy washy?