What Happens If I Get Sick On A Cruise?

So, imagine this scenario: you’re all excited and ready to embark on a cruise vacation, but what happens if you get sick while you’re away? That’s definitely not the ideal situation, but don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll delve into what typically happens if you happen to fall ill on a cruise and what measures are in place to ensure your well-being. So, let’s get started and put your worries at ease!

If you’re feeling under the weather during your cruise, the ship’s medical facilities are there to take care of you. Most cruise ships have a medical center onboard staffed with qualified doctors and nurses who are available 24/7. They are equipped to handle a wide range of medical conditions, from minor illnesses to more serious emergencies. They can provide medical treatments, prescribe medications, and offer advice to help you get back on your feet in no time. Plus, the medical facilities are usually well-stocked with a variety of medications, so you can rest assured that your needs will be attended to. In more severe cases, if you require more specialized care, the ship’s medical team can arrange for medical evacuations to the nearest appropriate facility onshore. So, you can be confident that your health is in good hands, even if you do happen to get sick while enjoying your cruise.

Medical Facilities on Cruise Ships

Accessibility of Medical Facilities

When you’re enjoying your vacation on a cruise, it’s important to know that medical facilities are available on-board. Cruise ships are equipped with medical centers that provide basic medical care and treatment for passengers who fall ill or require medical attention. These medical facilities are accessible to all passengers and are staffed by trained doctors and nurses.

Scope of Medical Services

The medical facilities on cruise ships are equipped to handle a range of medical conditions and emergencies. They are well-stocked with medications, medical equipment, and supplies. The onboard medical staff is trained to provide immediate medical care, including evaluation and treatment of various illnesses and injuries. However, it’s important to note that the medical facilities on cruise ships are not full-service hospitals, and they may not be able to provide specialized medical care or perform complex medical procedures.

Availability of Doctors and Nurses

Cruise ships have a team of doctors and nurses who are responsible for providing medical care to passengers. The number of medical personnel on-board varies depending on the size of the ship. In most cases, there is at least one doctor and several nurses available on the ship. These medical professionals are on-call 24/7 and can be reached through the ship’s communication system or by visiting the medical center. They are trained to handle medical emergencies and are equipped to provide immediate assistance to those in need.

Procedures for Reporting Illness on a Cruise

Designated Reporting Channels

If you fall ill on a cruise ship, it’s important to report your illness to the appropriate authorities as soon as possible. Cruise ships have designated reporting channels that passengers can use to inform the ship’s medical staff about their illness. These reporting channels may include contacting the medical center directly, notifying a crew member, or using the ship’s communication system to reach out for medical assistance.

Documentation Required

When reporting your illness, it’s important to provide the necessary documentation to the medical staff. This may include your identification documents, such as your passport or identification card, as well as any relevant medical records or documentation of pre-existing conditions. Providing this information will help the medical staff assess your condition and provide appropriate medical care.

Immediate Isolation and Medical Assessment

Upon reporting your illness, the ship’s medical staff will take immediate action to isolate you from other passengers and conduct a medical assessment. This is a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of contagious diseases and ensure the safety of all passengers on-board. The medical assessment will involve evaluating your symptoms, conducting medical tests if necessary, and determining the most appropriate course of treatment.

Treatment Options for Ill Passengers

In-Port Medical Facilities

In some cases, if medical treatment is required beyond the capacity of the ship’s medical facilities, passengers may be transported to an onshore medical facility while the ship is in port. These onshore medical facilities are equipped to handle more complex medical procedures and can provide specialized care if needed. Cruise lines have arrangements with local hospitals and medical centers at various ports of call to ensure that passengers can receive the necessary medical attention.

Onboard Medical Treatment

For less severe illnesses or injuries, treatment can often be provided on-board the cruise ship. The medical staff on-board is trained to provide basic medical care, administer medications, and perform minor procedures. They can effectively manage common ailments such as seasickness, infections, minor injuries, and respiratory illnesses. If further treatment is required, the medical staff will make arrangements for your care, either on-board or at an onshore medical facility.

Transportation to Onshore Hospitals

In cases where passengers require urgent or specialized medical care, the ship’s medical staff will work closely with local emergency services to arrange for transportation to an onshore hospital. This is done to ensure that passengers receive the necessary treatment in a timely manner. The cruise line will coordinate with the local authorities to ensure a smooth transition and provide any necessary support during the process.

Quarantine Measures and Precautions

Isolation Protocols for Contagious Diseases

If a passenger is diagnosed with a contagious disease on-board, quarantine measures will be implemented to prevent the spread of the illness to other passengers. The infected passenger will be isolated in a designated quarantine room and appropriate precautions will be taken to minimize the risk of transmission. The medical staff will provide necessary care and treatment while ensuring the well-being and safety of other passengers.

Quarantine Room Availability

Cruise ships have designated quarantine rooms that are specifically designed to isolate passengers with contagious diseases. These rooms are equipped with medical equipment and supplies necessary for the treatment of such illnesses. The availability of quarantine rooms varies depending on the size and capacity of the ship, but cruise lines have protocols in place to ensure that there are sufficient quarantine facilities to handle potential outbreaks.

Enhanced Sanitization Procedures

To maintain a safe and healthy environment on-board, cruise ships follow enhanced sanitization procedures. These procedures include regular cleaning and disinfection of common areas and cabins, as well as implementing strict hygiene practices. Crew members are trained in proper sanitation techniques and adhere to strict cleanliness standards. These measures are implemented to minimize the risk of diseases and ensure the well-being of passengers and crew members.

Communication with Family and Friends

Notification to Emergency Contacts

In the event of a medical emergency on-board, cruise ships have protocols in place to notify passengers’ designated emergency contacts. If you fall ill on a cruise, the medical staff will work with you to obtain the necessary contact information and notify your emergency contacts about your condition. This ensures that your loved ones are kept informed about your well-being and can provide support if needed.

Limited Access to Internet and Phone

Cruise ship passengers typically have limited access to internet and phone services while at sea. However, in case of a medical emergency, the ship’s staff will make arrangements for you to communicate with your family and friends. They understand the importance of staying connected during difficult times and will assist you in reaching out to your loved ones.

Cruise Staff Assistance

During your illness, the cruise staff is there to assist and support you. They will provide any necessary assistance in contacting your emergency contacts, arranging necessary communication, and helping you navigate through the medical procedures. The staff is trained to handle medical emergencies with care and compassion, ensuring that you feel supported throughout the process.

Refund and Rebooking Policies

Insurance Coverage for Medical Expenses

It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses when going on a cruise. In case of illness or injury requiring medical treatment, travel insurance can help cover the costs associated with medical care, including treatment on-board, transportation to onshore medical facilities, and emergency medical evacuation if necessary. It’s important to review your insurance policy to understand the coverage and requirements for filing a claim.

Refund and Compensation Eligibility

In the event of an illness that prevents you from continuing your cruise, cruise lines have refund and compensation policies in place. These policies vary depending on the cruise line and the specific circumstances of your situation. It’s important to contact the cruise line or your travel agent to understand the refund and compensation eligibility criteria.

Rebooking Options for Disrupted Holidays

If your cruise is disrupted due to illness, cruise lines often provide rebooking options for affected passengers. Depending on the availability and timing, you may be offered the opportunity to reschedule your cruise for a later date or select an alternate itinerary. The specific options and conditions for rebooking will depend on the cruise line’s policies and the circumstances of your situation.

Coordination with Local Authorities

Emergency Evacuation Planning

Cruise ships have emergency evacuation plans in place to ensure the safety and well-being of passengers in case of a medical emergency. These plans involve coordination with local emergency services, including medical helicopters, to evacuate seriously ill passengers to onshore hospitals. The cruise lines work closely with local authorities to ensure the smooth execution of emergency evacuation procedures, maintaining the highest standards of safety.

Liaison with Port Health Authorities

Cruise ships are required to follow specific protocols and cooperate with port health authorities to ensure the health and safety of passengers and crew members. This includes routine screening of passengers and crew before boarding, reporting any illnesses or outbreaks, and following local health regulations and guidelines. The cruise lines maintain a strong relationship with port health authorities to ensure effective communication and coordination in case of any health-related issues.

Legal Obligations of Cruise Ships

Cruise ships have legal obligations in terms of passenger health and safety. They are required to comply with international maritime and health regulations, as well as local health laws and guidelines at each port of call. Cruise lines have procedures and protocols in place to fulfill these obligations and ensure the well-being of passengers. These measures are in place to protect the health of everyone on-board and minimize the risk of contagious diseases.

Safety Measures to Minimize Diseases

Thorough Cleaning and Sanitization

To minimize the risk of diseases on-board, cruise ships follow stringent cleaning and sanitization procedures. Common areas, cabins, and facilities are regularly cleaned and disinfected using hospital-grade cleaning agents. Additionally, hand sanitizing stations are available throughout the ship, encouraging passengers and crew members to maintain good hand hygiene.

Health Screenings before Boarding

Before boarding the ship, passengers undergo health screenings to identify any potential health risks. These screenings often include temperature checks and questionnaires to assess passengers’ health status. If a passenger displays symptoms of illness, further medical assessment may be required before allowing them to board the ship. These pre-boarding health screenings are an important measure to prevent the spread of contagious diseases.

Precautionary Measures on Board

While on-board, passengers are encouraged to practice good hygiene and take precautionary measures to minimize the risk of diseases. This includes frequent handwashing with soap and water, using hand sanitizers when soap and water are not available, and avoiding close contact with individuals who are visibly ill. Cruise lines also provide informational material and announcements to raise awareness about good hygiene practices and disease prevention.

Medical Evacuation Procedures

Arrangements with Local Emergency Services

Cruise ships have arrangements in place with local emergency services to facilitate medical evacuations if required. These arrangements may involve the use of medical helicopters, ambulances, or other transportation methods to ensure that seriously ill passengers can quickly and safely be transported to onshore hospitals. The cruise lines work closely with local emergency services to coordinate these evacuations and provide necessary medical support during the process.

Onboard Medical Staff Coordination

In the event of a medical evacuation, the on-board medical staff plays a crucial role in coordinating the evacuation process. They work closely with the local emergency services to assess the patient’s medical condition, provide necessary medical care during transportation, and ensure a seamless transfer to the onshore medical facility. The medical staff’s experience and expertise contribute to the overall safety and well-being of the passenger during the evacuation.

Procedures for Evacuating Seriously Ill Passengers

When a passenger requires urgent medical care that cannot be provided on-board, the medical staff will initiate the medical evacuation procedure. This involves notifying the ship’s captain and coordinating with the appropriate authorities. The passenger will be carefully transported from the ship using the available transportation methods, with medical personnel providing continuous care and monitoring throughout the evacuation process. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the passenger receives timely and appropriate medical treatment onshore.


While falling ill on a cruise can be worrisome, it’s important to know that cruise ships are equipped with medical facilities and have protocols in place to handle medical emergencies. From accessibility of medical facilities to treatment options and communication with family and friends, cruise lines prioritize passenger health and safety. With thorough cleaning and sanitization, health screenings before boarding, and other precautionary measures, cruise lines strive to provide a safe and healthy environment for all passengers. However, it’s always recommended to have appropriate travel insurance that covers medical expenses to ensure peace of mind while enjoying your cruise vacation.