Medical Emergencies and Evacuations at sea while on-board a Cruise!

Needing Medical Treatment at Sea

Can mean “no fun” for you!!

While occasions of  Coast Guard responses to a  Cruise ship, after receiving a request by the cruise line to effect an emergency evacuation from the ship are rather a rarity, the reality of the ever-present potentiality of needing medical attention while on a cruise does exist. While it would certainly be nice not to catch a cold or come down with a virus while on your cruise, no one is able to avoid a sudden medical illness or injury. But it is good to know that  the modern cruise ships feature state-of-the-art medical facilities on board, that rival most facilities onshore as well.

Medical Facilities On Board Cruise Ships

These facilities are staffed by doctors and nurses and are equipped to treat everything from seasickness to respiratory problems to broken bones. Some ships also have digital X-ray equipment, cardiac life support stations and telemedicine capabilities that allow the staff to communicate in real-time with specialists on shore. Oceania Cruises’ ships even have fully equipped operating rooms for use in extreme emergencies. While these personnel who staff the ship’s infirmary are not actual employees of the cruise line (as they are independent contractors) and as such are free to charge what they feel is commensurate for their services. You should know that these charges are applied to your ship’s on-board account and will need to be settled at the conclusion of your cruise. Oftentimes in situations where passengers are able to present their proof of adequate travel insurance to the medical staff, (which is one very good reason to always have such documentation with your other important travel papers and documents), Ship’s medical staff can see to it that alternative arrangements can be made and generally are allowed for, as it is documented that (both passenger and the medical staffs fees) has adequate medical expense coverage.

Medical Emergencies and Unforeseen Occurences On Board Cruise Ships

For very serious conditions, such as heart attacks or strokes, the medical staff will arrange to have the passenger transferred to a hospital on shore as quickly as possible. Some newer ships have helipads that make it easier to airlift passengers who need the attention of physicians on land. While these situations are rare for most people. I have rarely ever been on a cruise, when someone didn’t have to be removed from the ship for medical reasons. You should know that such services are quite costly and could easily financially devastate you. The best way to hedge against such is to be sure that you purchase vacation trip protection insurance, as most policies have coverage’s for medical evacuations. Check out our E-Book on Vacation Protection Coverage available from CruiseSource here .

Your Best Protection from such occurences is Adequate Insurance Coverage

Before you cruise, check your medical insurance coverage information to find out if it will cover medical treatment and evacuation while you are away from home (especially if you are cruising outside the U.S.) If not, you should definitely consider purchasing travel insurance that includes medical coverage. There are many considerations with respect to what having adequate coverage really means.

While no passenger aboard a cruise ship wants to think a medical emergency could put a damper on their vacation, it happens all the time. Unfortunately, people on cruise ships do fall and break an arm or leg, they do get injured by sea creatures and wildlife while on an excursion, they do have a heart attack, and sadly, some people die.  So, if you are planning a cruise, while you might be able to control the occurrence of such situations, you can have control over how the situation is handled.

You could find yourself on a cruise, and the ship’s captain makes an announcement that the ship has stopped for an emergency medical evacuation. In this circumstance, the United States Coast Guard (or air ambulance service) would pull up alongside (or if heliport equipped land on) the cruise ship and the passenger(s) affected would be taken off the ship. Typically, this severe action is unlikely but the problem is that when this does occur, any and all expenses whether to the cruise line or by the evacuation service would be charged to the passenger’s responsibility. This is why it is so important while looking at medical insurance, to also give consideration to traveler’s insurance coverage as well. That way you do not find yourself in a position of having to pay out literally tens of thousands of dollars, that you might otherwise not be in a position to pay.

Don’t get caught, with Your Head in the sand!

Many times, cruise ship passengers will simply ignore the encouragement to purchase both medical and travel insurance, believing they are either getting ripped off or that nothing will happen to them.  This is a terribly risky position you place not only on yourself, but anyone who may be traveling with you, as well as their loved ones back home. Additionally, other scenarios could arise beyond accident and illness. For example, travel insurance would cover the cost of your cruise if you were to lose a job prior to the cruise, or should have some type of major illness, or should a death in the family, your airline flights are delayed or cancelled, and you need to catch up with your ship that has already left, or if something else happens that would stop you from taking your cruise. However, there are certain restrictions and limitations that may come into play, even when the circumstances are critical (or seem that way) for the passenger, it is important to understand that cruise lines don’t simply waive penalties when passengers cancel, or fail to show up on time for their cruise. This is where your Professional Cruise Planner, can actually help you with understanding all of the coverage options, so that you won’t end up with any unforeseen surprises without adequate insurance.

For more information on Medical Emergencies, Facilities, and Services at Sea, you can contact Mike via email  .         You can tweet (or follow) Mike at  . You can “Join” our Travel Club at  Mikes web site can be found at .  You can follow this blog (or subscribe to it) at  (or merely click on the subscribe button above to have daily delivery to your email). View all of Mikes uploaded Flickr Photo Galleries at . Mike also is editor of his own twice daily e-newspapaer called “The Compass Headings” you can see (or subscribe to) it free! at

Please feel free to leave a comment below on this articles’ contents. We are always looking for ideas or suggestions to expand and improve on our content! If you found the information helpful why not include (a tweet to followers) or (share a like) with your facebook friends, that they might benefit from the information as well. Thanks For Visiting, and please come back often to this daily Blog. – Cruise with Mike



About cruisewithmike

Mike is a Professional Cruise Wedding Planner, Wedding Officiant,and owner of CruisewithMike Wedding Planners. With over 20 years of experience in the Travel Industry, as an Independant Travel Consultant, Customer Service Agent, and a retired Va. Magistrate, and Clergy. Mike has a very unique perspective on Customer and Wedding Service Needs and strives to provide custom service that's "TOPS" Totally Outrageous Professional Service, with every customer he works with.
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4 Responses to Medical Emergencies and Evacuations at sea while on-board a Cruise!

  1. Janelle Ortiz says:

    Thanks for this article. I am an agent and unfortunately have experienced cruise ship medical staff when traveling in Europe. We had just left Athens and I got really ill. I didn’t need to be transported off the ship, but my family and I were quarantined to our room for 48 hours. Celebrity Cruise line was amazing in assisting us through this. The physician on board was amazing, the ship staff did everything they could to make us comfortable while quarantined, and celebrity even gave me future cruise credit as I was not able to enjoy the two days quarantined. I tell all of my clients why travel insurance is so important and I am so happy to see this article that is doing the same.

    • Dear Janelle,
      It is always good to hear happy endings! Thank you so very much for sharing. You can never over-emphasize the importance of having good, and adequate travel protection (insurance) coverage before embarking on any travel. We certainly appreciate your comments, and hope that you can visit back to our site often. Thanks Again!-CruisewithMike

  2. Leonard Marks says:

    nicely done. great post!

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