Cruise Ships: Sick at Sea

Glitzy ads of luxury cruises often feature the indulgences. They skip the less glamorous story of being sick at sea, and the limited treatment options available.

When the Norovirus tore through this cruise ship in January, more than 600 passengers were struck, including Jane Upton.

Jane says, "I just remember leaning against, in the bathroom, and I was like: 'Is this what it is like to die?' It's horrific."

Now imagine yourself days from the nearest port, on a ship without diagnostic equipment like an M-R-I machine, a blood bank, or even specialty doctors.

Dr. Orly Avitzur with Consumer Reports points out, "Many people believe they are boarding a 'floating hospital,' but a cruise ship is more like a floating hotel, with a doctor at hand."

Dr. Avitzur goes on to say, "Think twice about traveling with a chronic medical condition. The Coast Guard can't always launch a rescue, if the seas are rough or the ship is too far from land."

Next, know that most prescription drugs are not available on a cruise ship, so always travel with an extra supply of all medications.

Dr. Avitzur warns, "Also, get ready to pay a premium, out of pocket, for any onboard care, even items like Band-Aids or aspirin. Many people aren't aware that most cruise ships don't accept medical insurance."

And Consumer Reports says consider travel insurance. It could be invaluable if you end up needing serious medical attention in a foreign port.

All good advice to keep the sailing smooth, if you take a cruise.

Consumer Reports advises when you're buying travel insurance, avoid commission-driven policies that are sold by tour operators, travel agents, and cruise lines.

Instead, check out an online broker such as insure-my-trip-dot-com, which sells coverage from multiple companies.


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