Issue addressed: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted organised cruise holidays as perfect incubators for microbiological infections due to the constant socialising within closed spaces. Little is known about people's health behaviours and perceptions during cruise holidays. Methods: Narrative group interviews and respondent photo diary exercises were conducted with families (n = 25) residing in different areas across metropolitan NSW, Australia. Guided by a social practice theoretical approach we undertook a thematic analysis that identifies reasons for choosing a cruise, health considerations and behaviours in relation to cruise travel and awareness of official cruise health information. Results: Cruise travel included a licence to abandon cautious behaviours, reinforced by confidence in the cruise organiser's risk management ability. Health concerns were not a high priority for participants and were mainly understood in terms of eating healthy, modest exercise, managing seasickness and having adequate supplies of medications. Awareness of official cruise health and risk information was largely non-existent. Conclusion: Understanding how travel health practices emerge and are likely to be modifiable produces health-promoting awareness and intervention efforts that recognise and link with people's ideas about cruise holidays as times of fun, leisure, relaxation, without interfering with or imposing on them. So what?: This study highlights the importance of developing health communication and promotion strategies that are responsive to the interconnected meanings, competencies and materials that have a bearing on how cruise travellers understand and enact health-related behaviours in preparation for and during a cruise holiday.