Cruise tip 41: What if I fall ill on a cruise?

Gary Bembridge author of “The Cruise Traveler’s Handbook” provides another 60-Second Cruise Tip. For more visit and subscribe free to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio

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What if I fall ill?

Maritime law requires ships at sea with over 12 passengers to have a doctor on board. You are likely to find 24-hour medical cover on cruise ships and a facility staffed by doctors and nurses to deal with everything from minor injuries and daily problems through to serious medical issues. Your on-board account is charged if you use the service, and it costs about the same as accessing land-based private medical care. You will be given a receipt to make an insurance claim if you are covered.

With serious medical cases the medical center stabilizes and make patients comfortable until they can be offloaded to hospital. If the problem is acute and the ship is far from land but accessible by helicopter the patient may be evacuated. The facilities are impressive and even include a high-dependency room (i.e. close to intensive care ), they can take x-rays and have a large pharmacy of drugs.

River cruise ships do not have medical facilities and refer you to local doctors and medical centres along the route. Freighters taking fare-paying passengers carry less than 12 people to avoid having to provide medical cover.

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Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

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