What to do if you get sick on a cruise

What to do if you get sick on a cruise

A question I am asked often is what happens if you get sick on a cruise. For years I was put off going on a cruise as I used to read the horror stories of getting sick whilst cruising.

To be honest I have been on a couple of ships when a virus is spreading and it is not nice but luckily because the cruise line deals with it appropriately and puts measures in place to reduce spreading I have not caught it.

Getting sick whilst travelling is not nice as you don’t have you home comforts and it can be worrying being so far from home but there are some factors you can do to reduce the stress of getting sick on a cruise.

getting sick on a cruise

Be prepared bring basic medication

If you have a minor illness you can rest and take medication that you have brought with you. I recommend bringing the basics such as paracetamol, antibacterial cream, if you have an existing condition then bring what you would normally take if you were at home. You can purchase some basic medications such as cold relief on some ships but it is not guaranteed so be prepared.

Also if you are on a cruise that is stopping in ports you can of course get some medication when you dock, but it may be difficult to find what you normally take from your home country.

bring medication from home

If you suffer from sea sickness then bring some over the counter medication with you as these are available on board but can be very pricey. Even if you do not suffer with sea sickness I would recommend bringing some with you as you never know how you will feel if the sea gets very rough. I also have many other tips for combatting sea sickness which you can read here.

Rest and dont spread your germs

If you have something that is contagious then be courteous and try not to spread your germs too must. Regularly wash your hands, use the gel and tissues and if you are really unwell then confine yourself to your cabin. It is not fair to mingle with other passengers onboard and risk them catching what you have.

I have been sick whilst travelling on a cruise, luckily it was only a minor illness that passed within a couple of days but I stayed in my cabin, ordered room service and got myself well again like I would if I was at home, yes its a bummer since you have paid to be enjoying the cruise but it can not be helped being poorly but you can help not spread the illness.

dont spread germs on a cruise

Since I do a lot of cruises solo I recommend getting the room number of the friends that you make on board even if it is someone that you sit down to dinner with. In my case when I was ill I contacted a friend I had made and they brought me some food from the main restaurant this particular ship I was on charged high prices for room service and the food was not even that nice.

You can also report your illness to reception and they will bring you basic foods if you are sick. If you have diarrhea or sickness then you will be confined to your room for 48 hours so they will have to bring you some food. You also need to report this in case it is a epidemic on the ship and then the cruise line can put adequate measures in place.

There is an onboard doctor and hospital

There is an onboard doctor on cruise ships but these can be very expensive to see. If you have the correct medical insurance this will cover any visits that you have to make.

I didn’t realise that large ships have an actual hospital ward and can even manage some minor operations. I have visited a few of the medical rooms on ships not because I was ill but because I am nosey and they are just like hospitals very high tech.

ship infirmary

In an emergency

Emergency medical situations do happen at sea. I have been on cruises when we have had to turn around and go back to  port because someone is unless. I have been on cruises when an air ambulance has come to take a sick person to the closest on land hospital and I have even been on cruises when people have passed away from illnesses which is so sad.

There will be an emergency number to dial when you are on board which you will be told about in the safety briefing when you start your cruise and this information should also be in your room. This is normally 999 or 911 so people can remember it but check with the cruise you are on.

air ambulance

In some cases, a traveler’s personal insurance company is required to repatriate the patient for medical treatment. The method of repatriation could be via regular flight, by ground, or by air ambulance. Medical Repatriation is different from the act of medical evacuation. (source Wikipedia)

I have been woken at 2am with an emergency call on the tanoy for life saving responders to attend an emergency which was frightening, but also great that a ship can deal with emergencies such as this in a effective manner.

You can get sick anyway prepare for any illness and you shall be OK and report anything major ASAP. Hopefully you will not get sick on your next cruise.

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