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Going on a cruise is a great way to relax, explore new places, and spend quality time with loved ones. However, just like any other vacation, unexpected events can happen, and you may need medical attention. Whether it’s a minor injury or a serious illness, knowing what to expect if you get sick or injured on a cruise can help you make informed decisions and get the care you need.

What Medical Facilities Are Available Onboard A Cruise?

Most cruise ships have medical facilities on board, staffed with qualified medical professionals who can provide a wide range of medical services, from minor first aid to emergency surgery. According to USA Today, most ships have a full-time doctor and nurse, and some even have specialists like cardiologists or dentists on board. These facilities are equipped with modern medical equipment and medication, and they can handle most common illnesses and injuries.

If you need to visit the cruise doctor, you will be asked to fill out a medical questionnaire to provide information about your health history, current medications, and any allergies or medical conditions you may have. This information is essential for the doctor to make an accurate diagnosis and provide appropriate treatment. You will also be asked to present your cruise ID card and travel insurance documents. Some cruise lines offer medical insurance as part of the ticket package, but it’s always a good idea to double-check what is covered by your policy.

Once you have been examined by the doctor, you will receive a diagnosis and treatment plan. If the doctor determines that you need medication, it will be dispensed from the ship’s pharmacy. However, it’s important to note that medications on board are often more expensive than on land, so it’s wise to bring any necessary medication with you.

What If You Need Medical Attention Not Available Onboard The Cruise?

If your condition requires more specialized medical attention or hospitalization, the ship’s medical staff will arrange for you to be transferred to a medical facility on land. This can be a costly and complicated process, as you will need to be transported by helicopter or ambulance to the nearest port with medical facilities. It’s also worth noting that not all travel insurance policies cover medical evacuation, so it’s important to check your policy before you set sail.

It’s also worth noting that not all medical conditions can be treated on board a cruise ship, and some may require emergency medical attention on land. It’s essential to disclose any medical conditions or concerns to your doctor before you embark on your cruise, and to ensure that you have adequate travel insurance coverage that includes medical evacuation if necessary.

What If I Feel I Didn’t Receive Proper Care On The Cruise?

In unfortunate instances, passengers may feel they have received substandard medical care from the ship’s medical staff, which results in harm or injury. In some cases, this can be medical malpractice. This can include misdiagnosis, incorrect treatment, delayed treatment, or failure to provide adequate care. 

What If I Feel I Didn’t Receive Proper Care On The Cruise?

According to, to prove medical malpractice on a cruise ship, a passenger must show that the medical professional breached the duty of care owed to them, and that this breach caused them harm. This can be challenging as cruise lines often have clauses in their contracts that limit their liability, or require legal disputes to be settled in a specific jurisdiction.

In conclusion, getting sick or injured on a cruise can be a daunting experience, but with the right preparation and knowledge, you can ensure that you receive the care you need. Most cruise ships have medical facilities on board staffed with qualified medical professionals who can handle most common illnesses and injuries. However, more serious conditions may require medical attention on land, and passengers should ensure they have adequate travel insurance coverage that includes medical evacuation. It’s also worth noting that medical malpractice on a cruise ship can occur, and passengers do have legal options to pursue compensation. By being informed and prepared, you can enjoy your cruise with peace of mind, knowing that you are ready for any eventuality.


About the Author:

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all personal injury cases, focusing on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in representing injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, and has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2022– an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2022, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019-2022.