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Cruise Ship Medical Care

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If you have medical concerns and are planning to sail on a cruise, there are some things you should know before you go.

Ships that can carry more than 50 passengers are required to have hospital facilities and at least one doctor on board.

But the quality and size of those facilities can vary widely.

The doctors on board cruise ships are often generalists who can help with minor illnesses and short-term emergency care.

But cruise ships don’t have full trauma units or an ICU.

So if you have a heart attack or get acutely ill in some other way, the onboard doctor can only stabilize you until you reach the nearest port or can be transported to a medical facility.

Your best bet is to be prepared: people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or epilepsy are usually required to notify the cruise line before departure.

Pregnant women and people with serious medical problems are not advised to cruise, although expectant women up to 28 weeks are generally allowed onboard.

And remember, not all meds are stocked in the pharmacy, so bring your own.

If you have any medical concerns, consider purchasing special medical evacuation and repatriation in addition to traditional travel insurance, and make sure the policy means you can be evacuated to a hospital of your choice, not just the closest port of call.

Learn more in our Travel Insurance category.

Or learn more about all kinds of cruising in our Cruises section.

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