If you have a medical condition, onboard medical facilities are probably part of your criteria for selecting a cruise ship. If not, you may be surprised by how well-prepared cruise ship medical centers are to provide care for minor injuries and illnesses, as well as more serious conditions.
The size of the medical staff depends on the size of the ship, but will include some combination of qualified doctors, nurses and medical technicians. Doctor’s office hours are usually published in the ship’s daily bulletin, and emergency assistance is always available, 24 hours a day. There will be a charge to see the doctor, which varies by ship.
In an onboard medical center, you can expect to see lifesaving equipment such as cardiac defibrillators, external pacemakers, ventilators and respirators. Diagnostic equipment – including EKG machines, X-ray machines and blood testing equipment – are also common, as are well-stocked pharmacies.
A few ships have operating rooms on board, where minor emergency surgeries can be performed. However, patients who require surgery, along with cardiac arrest and stroke patients, are usually stabilized in the ship’s medical center, then transferred to an onshore hospital at the earliest opportunity. Some newer cruise ships have helipads just for medical evacuation purposes.
Whether you think you’ll need the services of an onboard medical center or not, you should be prepared to pay for any care that you may need. Many insurance plans do not cover routine or emergency care away from home; emergency medical evacuations, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, are rarely covered. Check with your insurance provider; if you won’t be covered while on the ship, an easy solution is to purchase travel insurance that includes medical coverage. Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, can help you select an affordable plan.
Finally, if you have any special medical needs, let your cruise line know in advance. You may not experience any medical issues at all on your cruise, but it’s good to know that the onboard medical staff is prepared to help you if needed. That knowledge will help you relax and get the most out of your cruise!
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