Medical facilities on cruise ships

  • Medical facilities on cruise ships

    Posted by Josh Grisdale on September 16, 2022 at 9:48 am

    I assume that there are medical facilities like a doctor and medicine etc on cruise ships, but what are they like? I have back pain from sitting in my wheelchair all day and sometimes need to refill prescriptions. Would something like that be possible? Are there any physical therapists aboard?

    Would be interested to learn what is/isn’t available! Thanks!

    Josh Grisdale replied 1 year, 8 months ago 2 Members · 7 Replies
  • 7 Replies
  • JoanneC

    September 16, 2022 at 4:07 pm

    Hi, Josh:

    Medical facilities onboard a cruise ship are very basic. They are mostly there to triage emergencies, and will offload you at the nearest port or via medivac for anything serious.

    Please plan to bring enough meds with you to last the trip + an extra 3-7 days in the event of delays, as they don’t have a major pharmacy on board or the ability to fill new Rx’s.

    Regarding PT, you can usually arrange for massages via the spa, but they are more focused on healthy folks and relaxation vs. anything medically necessary. I spent about $550 for daily massages on a 7-day Caribbean vacation for a cousin recovering from a leg surgery during our vacation in 2009, but it was mostly to ensure her muscles didn’t lock up from all the exercise we were getting and the strain we were putting on her leg. You’ll need to check the resources and specials on each individual ship to get a worst-case idea of how much it may cost you based on your needs.

    If you’ve never heard of, check out their website:

    as they mostly specialize in oxygen-user passengers, but they work with all kinds of handicapped travelers, too.

  • Josh Grisdale

    September 17, 2022 at 2:33 pm

    Thank you so much! Yeah, I would plan on taking extra meds but wondered what would happen if I had a bad back spasm episode where my normal meds don’t cut it, but not really enough to go to hospital.

    Is there a doctor in their medical facilities?

  • JoanneC

    September 17, 2022 at 10:29 pm

    You’re going to have to check every cruise line and every ship, Josh. So many places have cut back their services to Nurse Practitioners to save on employment costs that you really just need to be sure to buy a medical policy for each trip, ensure you understand any exclusions in coverage, and hope for the best and that you never need to use the policy.

    My friend was traveling with her 99 year old Veteran of WWII who fell and broke her hip while in France, ending their tour to Germany. There are no guarantees in life, but trip insurance got Mom the necessary hip replacement surgery in France, and flew her back to the USA and to the hospital for her aftercare.

    On a 2017 trip, one of the kids of a large family party had stomach pains (possible appendicitis), and the family spent hours at the concierge desk trying to arrange for medical service personnel / an ambulance to take 2 people (the patient and her mom) to the hospital in port. They leave you at the nearest port for medical services, and you have to figure out how to rejoin the boat or get you and your stuff home and through Customs. Like I said – check every ship for specific information, but it appears pretty basic.

    • Josh Grisdale

      September 18, 2022 at 1:19 pm

      Thank you so much! Something I always wondered about.

      My work schedule in Japan wouldn’t allow for it now, but would love a cruise around the South Pacific… one day ☺️

  • JoanneC

    September 18, 2022 at 2:24 pm

    I didn’t start traveling (non-work related) until my disabilities got worse and I was afraid of running out of time.

    Did a fantastic trip to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and booked a cabin on the Coral Princess line for 7 days of swimming with a marine biologist as part of the crew.

    They also do cruises to the South Pacific, I believe, so highly recommend them if you don’t have another cruise service in mind. If you’re on fb, check out their page for specials.

  • JoanneC

    September 18, 2022 at 9:38 pm

    Need to correct my reference to the Coral Princess cruise line – they have been acquired pre-covid and their new name is “Coral Expeditions”.

    They have a South Seas cruise that I’ve been eying from their facebook posts, and would love to travel with them again if I win the lottery. Not sure of their ability to handle a wheelchair bound passenger, but it might be worth exploring as they did an amazing job on our Great Barrier Reef 7-day excursion. Good luck in your future adventures.

    • Josh Grisdale

      September 19, 2022 at 11:40 am

      Great, thank you!

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