Medical and First Aid Facilities
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MEDICAL CARE AVAILABLE ON CRUISE SHIPS AND THE PROCEDURES IN PLACE IN THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY.
You may have a lot of questions about cruise ship safety; after all they do sometimes spend days at sea without sight of land and without coming into contact with other vessels. However, cruise ships have some of the most rigorous and consistent safety drills, practices and procedures in the travel industry.
In the event of an emergency, cruise ships are equipped with everything from first aid kits and fire extinguishers to helicopter pick-up protocols so that their guests can rest-assured that their safety is of paramount importance. You can find out more about the medical and first aid facilities available onboard in the guide below.
BASIC MEDICAL CARE ON A CRUISE SHIP
Basic medical care on cruise ships can include treating seasickness, sunburns and scrapes. On most cruise ships, access to the medical centre is open 24 hours a day with either a doctor, nurse or both being present. In the Medical centre you can be given over-the-counter medicine and treatments to aid and assist your ailment and allow you to carry on enjoying your holiday. However, it’s important to note that there is a charge for a consultation at the medical centre plus for any treatment or prescriptions given to you.
LIFE-THREATENING HEALTH EMERGENCIES
The medical facilities across cruise ships differ widely depending on the age and size of the ship. It’s important to note that in the event of a health emergency that the ship is not equipped to cope with, either the ship will divert off course to the nearest port or an emergency services helicopter or boat will be called out to collect the passenger. In the event of such an emergency, the person travelling with the passenger who has taken ill will also be transported along with a dedicated member of the ship staff who will provide support and assistance.
MEDICAL FACILITIES ON A CRUISE SHIP
No matter how small a cruise ship is, it will always be equipped with basic medical facilities, though specific facilities will vary between cruise lines and ships. For example, Celebrity Cruises, have a fully qualified doctor and a minimum of one nurse. But on Celebrity Xpedition there is usually only one licensed physician onboard.
As always, it’s crucial you do some research into each cruise line, especially if you have any specific requirements. However, larger and more modern ships will tend to have better equipped medical facilities and a bigger range of treatments to choose from. This is because they carry a greater number of passengers.
The Royal Caribbean International fleet for example, has facilities onboard to cope with everything from minor ailments to heart attacks, haemorrhages and respiratory failure. Their ships all meet or exceed the American College of Emergency Physicians’ Health Care Guidelines for Cruise Ship Medical Facilities. All of the Royal Caribbean ships carry defibrillators and electrocardiogram machines, as well as digital X-ray equipment which give you an idea of how seriously medical care is taken onboard cruise ships.
STEPS TO AVOID MEDICAL ASSISTANCE ONBOARD
In order to ensure you have a great time on your cruise, it’s wise to take steps to avoid needing medical treatment onboard. These steps include:
- Fill your prescriptions: If you require regular medication, make sure to top-up before you travel and that you have the required amount for the duration of your cruise.
- Store and label your medication: Make sure you carefully label your medication so that should you lose it, it has a greater chance of being returned to you. You might want to store your medication in your stateroom safe or if it does need to be kept cool most cabins feature a mini fridge.
- Know your limits: If you have a respiratory or heart condition, don’t put too much pressure on yourself by taking part in long periods of exertive activity.
- If you think you may get seasick, you could purchase sea sickness tablets before you travel or also invest in motion sickness bands.
- Invest in a travel first aid kit so that you have plasters at hand if you get a small scratch or blister.
- Stay safe in the sun by drinking plenty of water, sitting in the shade and consistently applying a high factor sun cream.
PACKING A TRAVEL FIRST AID KIT
A cruise holiday is something you choose for pleasure and enjoyment, so we know that thinking about medical facilities is something we’d all prefer not to do. Needless to say, accidents do happen and if it’s something small you may want to treat it yourself with your own first aid kit.
If you are thinking of bringing your own first aid kit on a cruise, here’s a few things to ensure are in it:
- Insect repellent
- Personal prescription medications (which you should keep in your carry on luggage if you are flying to the ship)
- Adhesive tape
- A small pair of scissors
- A pair of tweezers
Don’t worry if you forget any of these items because you can buy the basics from the shops that are onboard your ship. However, bear in mind that onboard shops are closed while in port and prices may vary.
Over-the-counter medications are available in the ship’s medical centre, but if you are in need of any prescription medication, you will need to see the onboard physician for a consultation or alternatively visit a pharmacy whilst in port which may be a less expensive option.