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Falling Sick During a Cruise Holiday: What Happens Next?

byIsaac Teo
  • Jun 14, 2024
  • 1 mins
cruise at sea

Cruise holidays are always a time filled with relaxation and entertainment. There’s something magical about a holiday at sea, taking in the sights and sounds of the waves whilst enjoying the festivities on your cruise ship.

On any cruise holiday, there's always the possibility of falling sick at sea. However, by taking steps to be prepared, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable holiday.

Cruise ships, for all their glitz and glamour, can be a hotbed of illnesses. Given the nature of hundreds, if not thousands of people interacting in an enclosed space, it can be easy for illness to spread even if there are strict hygiene protocols in place.

The most prevalent illness on cruise ships is the norovirus, a highly contagious virus that causes gastrointestinal distress, including vomiting and diarrhoea. Secondly, sea sickness, caused by the ship’s movement, is also another common illness, leading to nausea and dizziness. Finally, respiratory infections, such as the common cold or flu, can also spread rapidly in the confines of a cruise ship.

Falling sick at sea can dampen holiday spirits, and taking proactive steps can significantly reduce the risk of you doing so. Here are some essential tips to help you stay healthy during your cruise holiday.

Maintain Good Hygiene Practices: Frequently washing your hands with soap and water, especially before eating food or using shared surfaces. Try carrying a hand sanitiser around to make it more convenient to disinfect your hands.

Try Prevention Methods for Sea Sickness: There are a number of ways to prevent sea sickness. Try wearing acupressure wristbands, taking anti-nausea medication, and using natural remedies like ginger to alleviate symptoms and keep you comfortable.

Stay Well-Hydrated: Staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet is essential for keeping your immune system strong and your body resilient against illness while on board a cruise ship.

sick on cruise

So what happens if you fall sick at sea? Cruise ships are well-prepared to handle health issues that may arise during your holiday, ensuring that you receive the necessary care while at sea.

Cruise Ship Medical Facilities and Staff

Cruise ships will have at least one medical centre to handle a range of health issues. The centre is usually staffed by qualified doctors and nurses trained to manage both minor ailments and emergencies. Facilities typically include examination rooms, a pharmacy, and sometimes even an intensive care unit.

Medical Care on a Cruise Ship

Seeking medical attention if you fall sick on a cruise ship is straightforward. In the case of non-emergency situations, you can schedule a visit to the medical centre during its operating hours. For emergencies, contact the ship’s emergency number for immediate assistance. Onboard doctors can provide treatments, prescribe medications, and, if necessary, arrange for evacuation to a land-based medical facility.

Costs of Onboard Care

Medical care on a cruise ship can be costly. Medical supplies are more costly than on land due to the limited scarcity, and charges for consultations and treatments can quickly add up once billed to your onboard account, especially if specialised treatments or emergency evacuations are required.

Billing and Insurance Coverage

Medical services on a cruise ship are generally not covered by standard health insurance policies. Billing for onboard medical care is typically processed through your cruise account, and you will need to settle these charges before disembarking. This is where travel insurance can help to cover this protection gap.

enjoying on cruise ship

Travel insurance for cruises is essential for covering unexpected medical expenses that may arise during your trip. This includes not only the costs of onboard care but also potential emergency medical evacuation, which can be expensive.

A comprehensive travel insurance policy can protect you against these unforeseen costs and ensure you receive the necessary care without financial stress. Be sure to check with your insurance provider about what is included in your cruise insurance coverage.

When selecting travel insurance for a cruise holiday, be sure to review the policy to ensure it aligns with the activities you plan to participate in, such as coverage for adventurous activities. Most importantly, you should ensure that your travel insurance covers sea travel and medical expenses incurred while on a ship.

Travel insurance, like those offered by Income Insurance, typically protect against common travel inconveniences such as damage to personal belongings, personal accidents, emergency evacuation coverage, medical expenses while overseas and trip cancellations due to unexpected events even while you’re on board a cruise ship. There’s also optional additional coverage for adventurous activities1, as well as coverage for up to $300,000 in overseas medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions2.

Going on a cruise holiday offers a unique and exciting way to travel, but it's important to be prepared for potential health and financial challenges. By understanding the risks and securing comprehensive travel insurance, you can enjoy your vacation with peace of mind, knowing you're protected against the unexpected.

Isaac Teo is a seasoned writer with over five years of experience specialising in topics like insurance, money management, health and wellbeing. He is passionate about crafting informative, digestible pieces that empower readers to make informed decisions and enhance their lives. 

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