Most of us don’t think to ask about medical care on a cruise ship until we are on a cruise and need medical care. My first experience of medical services at sea occurred during my first cruise. The second day out from New York City, on the way to Bermuda, sea sickness got the best of me. The medical facilities physician checked me out, and gave me the medication I needed to eliminate my nausea. I’ve taken 50+ cruises since then, and have not needed medical attention.

Standards for Medical Care on a Cruise Ship

All oceangoing cruise ships that are members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) must comply with guidelines that identify the standards of medical care on a cruise ship. The following guidelines are the collaborative efforts of CLIA members and the American College of Emergency Physicians:

  • Each ship must have at least one qualified medical professional available 24/7 to care for persons coming into the on-board medical facility, or needing to be seen in his or her cabin. Larger ships usually have two physicians and three to four nurses.
  • Physicians and registered nurses must have at least three years of postgraduate experience in general and emergency medicine or board certification in emergency medicine, family medicine or internal medicine.
  • Doctors and nurses must be fluent speakers of the predominant language spoken on the ship.

senior lady beig examined , Medical Care on a Cruise Ship

Cruise Ship Medical Facilities

Medical facilities on a cruise ship handle non emergency conditions.

Facilities usually include a number of beds, an exam room, and an intensive care room. They have equipment for processing labs, monitoring vital signs and administering medications. Equipment also includes wheelchairs, a backboard to immobilize the spine, oxygen, EKG equipment, and a minimum of two defibrillators.

Medical facility physicians and nurses care for the ship’s crew as well as cruisers. They see cruisers with a variety of non life-threatening health issues. They routinely treat respiratory problems, urinary tract infections, motion sickness and injuries.

When someone presents for care with a life-threatening illness the medical staff will stabilize the patient. They will make arrangements to have the patient transferred to a medical facility in the nearest port. If the patient needs immediate attention, arrangements will be made to air lift the patient to a medical facility.

Cruise ship medical facilities are not emergency rooms at sea. The vary in size given the size of the ship.

Cruise Ship Pharmacy Stock

While the ship’s medical facility will have a basic supply of most used medications, inventory will vary by ship. You will be able to get antibiotics, aspirin, seasick medications and other, most often prescribed, medications. They will also have those medications necessary to treat more serious conditions .

Who Pays for Medical Care on a Cruise Ship?

If you require medical care while on a cruise you are responsible for the cost. The cost of your treatment and medication will be billed to your ship account. Trip insurance will reimburse what you have to pay out of pocket. You will need a copy of the billing statement from the ship to submit to the insurance company.

On-board medical care can be costly.  However,  cost for care if you need to be moved to a hospital for treatment can be many thousands of dollars. Trip insurance isn’t a luxury it’s a necessity, and for the price, it’s a wise and inexpensive decision.

Medical Care on a Cruise Ship Tips

Carry a list of your medications and your medical history with you when cruising. It will make it that much easier for you and for the medical staff should you need medical attention.

Carry all the medications you will need on the cruise. Don’t assume that the ship’s medical facility will have your medication in stock.

Chances are you will not need medical care when cruising. But it is good to know that care is available.

If you have questions about Cruise for Your Charity please call me at 800 388 8781

Thanks for visiting!

Jean