Cruise Medical Care
Make sure you have all the cover you need
You’re going on a cruise! Hooray! Make sure it’s the trip of a lifetime and avoid unpleasant, expensive surprises – especially when it comes to your health- Don’t take any chances!
Before You Go
Medical declarations are absolutely critical. Don’t leave anything out. Ever. A detail which may seem insignificant to you, may affect the cover provided by your insurance policy.
A chronic condition which is well controlled by medication still needs to be declared. Too often, travellers forget about conditions such as Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, IBS and High Cholesterol.
You MUST declare all pre-existing medical conditions
- If a condition is not declared, your entire policy could be invalidated
- If you have more than one condition, you need to declare each of them – and provide full details of each. Don’t leave anything out as this can invalidate your entire policy.
- This applies to cover for medical treatment, but also to death and disability, and other items covered by your policy.
- You must notify your cruise insurance provider if there are ANY changes to your health or medication as soon as these occur – don’t leave it until the last minute. This could include a new diagnosis, new symptoms, tests/checks where a diagnosis hasn’t been made yet, changes to your prescriptions, or a healthcare professional’s advice regarding activities or fitness to travel.
NB: If you have an International Travel Insurance Cruise Policy, you must provide a second medical declaration a week before you pay your final balance – most travellers do this in September which is when final balances for world cruises need to be paid, so make sure yours is arranged and completed in time. If you have had a change in your health since incepting your cover, don’t leave this until the last minute, in case a referral to Underwriters is needed.
Invalidated claims are extremely stressful and unpleasant for the patient, their family, and for us too!
Medical care on a cruise ship is charged at higher than private USA rates – and those are extremely high. There’s no NHS on board like we have at home. A simple medical problem such as indigestion relief can cost hundreds of pounds on-board. A course of antibiotics can cost thousands.
There are a number of costs that can be easily avoided simply by ensuring you have everything you need to keep your health in check:
- Pack enough medication for your entire cruise – plus a few days extra, just in case.
- Make sure you bring every single type of medication that you may need, even if you don’t use it every day.
- Keep a copy of your prescriptions with you, and a list that’s easy for a friend/family member to read. Check each other’s medication supply before you depart!
- Pack the essentials: paracetamol for headaches, something for seasickness, sunblock, after-sun lotion, band-aids, antihistamine in case of allergies… what else do you use regularly or occasionally at home?
- Do you carry an Epi-Pen for allergies? Pack spares for your cruise and ensure you don’t forget to have at least one with you at all times, especially if you head off on excursions.
- Make sure appropriate storage is available for your medication. Do you need an insulated carry-pack?
If you do need treatment on board
Sometimes, the unexpected happens and we do need to seek help. If you fall ill and do not have the appropriate medication – or if you’re not sure that what you have will do the job – you should always speak to the ship’s clinic.
When should you seek assistance?
- If you fall and even slightly injure yourself
- If you can’t carry on your usual day-to-day activities because something does not feel quite right
- If you experience any chest pain or shortness of breath
- If you have an upset stomach – this can result in dehydration, which is extremely dangerous
- As soon as you experience any new/unusual symptoms such as coughing, flu-like symptoms, fever, etc.
- Please note, this is not an exhaustive list – if you feel unwell and think you need treatment, rather be safe than sorry.
You can save yourself from having to pay medical costs onboard yourself, by informing your insurer as soon as possible. Your insurer can then issue a guarantee of payment and you won’t have to pay for treatment up front. All you need to do is to provide the ship’s officials with your travel insurance documents, and they will make contact on your behalf, to request a Guarantee of Payment (GOP) for your onboard medical expenses.
Common Health Issues At Sea
Be aware of respiratory infections
- We have seen a significant increase in community-acquired respiratory conditions this year.
- In particular, pneumonia and chest infections are easily transferred from one person to another on board.
- Don’t wait for it to get worse! Seek assistance for chesty coughs, shortness of breath, wheezing, and other respiratory symptoms straight away.
Norovirus is something we read about all too often. Poor hygiene and inadequate sanitisation on the ship is responsible, and while we can’t see this bacterial culprit, there’s a lot we can do to prevent it.
- Wash your hands regularly – especially when you’ve been in a public area or touched railings, elevator buttons, etc.
- Carry hand sanitizer gel at all times – and use it frequently.
= Don’t touch food, cutlery or even the dinner table before washing your hands or using sanitizer gel – bacteria won’t wait for food to be served.
- Snacks are not exempt – avoid dishes of peanuts or other snacks that everyone has touched or had their hands in.
- If you do experience diarrhoea or vomiting, stay in your cabin to avoid infecting other passengers. Always seek medical attention immediately and notify your illness promptly.
Some of the most common injuries on board happen in your own cabin:
- Falling in your cabin at night – clear the floor space before you go to sleep, and make sure you know where all steps/doorways are. Use a light if you need to get up in the night. Don’t stumble around in the dark.
- Cabin doors are on a spring/pressure system and will self-close – these springs need to be strong, so keep your hands clear and avoid trapped fingers.
Always remember the golden seaman’s rule – one hand for the ship. Always have one hand free to hold on.
Slipping on deck is another common cause of holiday woes… take extra care, especially around the swimming pool and other wet areas on deck.
If you have the right policy, you will be covered for all medical requirements on board, but prevention is far better than cure! Check your medical declaration, take all the medication you may need, and look after yourself while you’re on your cruise.
Preparation is the best way to set sail and have a stress-free voyage.
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