Precautions to take when going on a cruise with a medical condition


What could be better for your health than setting sail on a cruise? You’re surrounded by the beautiful blue of the ocean, you’re waited on hand and foot, there’s loads to do, amazing places to see, and a delicious supply of food and drink. What’s not to like?
But then you get bitten by a few mosquitoes, you’ve eaten more than your share of buffet food and you suddenly notice the sway of the ship more than you did before.
Getting sick aboard a cruise ship is never going to be an appealing option. But if you already have a pre-existing medical condition, falling ill whilst on holiday can become a real worry.
Of course, chances are you will have a great time on your cruise holiday and be able to make the most of your time away. But some risks are always going to be there.
You only need to read the headlines from recent years to know that people get sick on cruise ships. In 2015, for example, ten ships reported cases of norovirus. You wouldn’t want to get norovirus at the best of times, but you really don’t want to get it if you are already dealing with an existing medical condition.
But don’t judge everything based on what the media tells you.
According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), statistics show that the risk of getting norovirus on land is one in 15, on board a ship, it’s one in 5,500. While data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that the incidence of norovirus on ships halved in 2018 compared to the previous year.
If you are thinking of booking a cruise holiday, the statistics are definitely on your side. But it’s always a good idea to be prepared.
Here are three questions to ask yourself when making plans to go on a cruise holiday if you have an existing medical condition.

1. What illness can prevent me from flying?

A cruise holiday doesn’t come cheap so you’re not going to want to reschedule your trip because of an illness. When flights are also included in the deal, you need to know the facts if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
Here’s a list of medical conditions which mean flying is not advisable.
·         Heart/chest conditions: If you have recently suffered a heart attack, stroke or have been getting chest pains it may not be safe to travel by air. Flying can increase your chances of having another stroke or heart attack and it also puts you at greater risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
·         Respiratory diseases: Serious respiratory diseases such as pneumonia or a collapsed lung could prevent you from flying in the short term.
·         Surgery: If you have had stomach, brain, eye, or orthopaedic procedures, you may be prohibited from flying.
Whatever your medical condition, your first (pre-trip) port of call needs to be a discussion with your doctor about whether it’s safe to travel. With the right information and travel insurance, most people with existing medical conditions will be able to book a cruise and enjoy their time at sea.

2. Should I get a flu shot before going on a cruise?

Regardless of where you are travelling, you should be up-to-date with all your routine vaccinations (including measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, and flu). Members of the crew and fellow travellers may come from countries where these diseases are common and vaccinations are not routine. This has meant that outbreaks of chickenpox and rubella have been reported on cruise ships in the past.
Of course, if you are travelling to certain destinations you may need additional vaccinations. The jabs you get will depend on where you are stopping and what you will be doing while you’re there. Chat with your doctor about the cruise itinerary and your travel plans. It may be that you do not need certain vaccinations if you don’t plan to stray from the tourist areas surrounding the dock.
It’s also worth remembering that some African and South American countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination if you have recently travelled to a country where the disease is common. Be sure to check before you depart and ask the cruise liner about their requirements too.
A cruise ship setting off on a body of water in a valley surrounded by mountains

3. Can I go on a cruise without travel insurance?

Travel can be unpredictable – it’s all part of the fun. However, the fear of unpredictability can be made worse if you have a pre-existing medical condition. The key to overcoming this is having the right attitude, doing enough research before you book your holiday, and having the correct travel insurance policy for your needs.
Taking out cruise health travel insurance rather than a standard or multi-trip policy is worth considering as it is tailored to your trip. For example, it can cover you for missed port departures or changes to the itinerary – things a regular travel insurance policy would not.
The other advantage is that travel insurance with medical conditions included will cover you for the full duration of your trip. Cruises are often longer than other holidays – you can sometimes be at sea for months at a time. Standard travel insurance might not meet all your requirements.
Many cruise companies make it a mandatory requirement now to have travel insurance covering all pre-existing medical conditions – without this they won’t let you on board. Some examples of this are P&O and Fred Olsen cruises.
Annual travel insurance generally has a limit of 31 days on an individual trip. If you’re lucky enough to go on a cruise holiday is for a longer duration, be sure to take out the appropriate cover. This may well have to be a single trip policy to cover the full time away from your home. Travel insurance should start from the day you leave your home until the day you set foot back in the door, in order for it to be valid.
Even if you feel fit and healthy, going on a cruise without travel insurance is not advisable. If you have an existing medical condition, you may find getting standard travel insurance difficult – especially if the trip includes a number of sports and activities.
Just be aware that medical treatment from a cruise ship can be extremely costly – there is a private doctor on board so the cost of medical treatment is significantly higher because of this, and you are likely to be paying out of your own pocket if you do not have the correct travel insurance. There is also the difficulty of repatriation by airlifting in the event of an emergency which will add substantial fees.
If you are wondering whether going on a cruise with a medical condition is a good idea, don’t fear. A specialist policy for travel insurance with medical conditions will fit your specific requirements.
Travel insurance with medical conditions from Insurance Choice does everything a regular travel insurance policy does, but with added cover specifically designed for cruises. Covering everything from missed destinations due to bad weather to you being confined to your cabin because of illness, Insurance Choice has cruise travel insurance suited to your specific requirements.
Looking for travel insurance with medical conditions included? Speak to one of our specialists today to get a quote.