Medical facilities on cruise ships can vary widely depending on ship size, itinerary, length of cruise, and passenger demographics. Generally, shipboard medical clinics can provide medical care comparable to that of ambulatory care centers. Although no official agency regulates medical practice aboard cruise ships, consensus-based guidelines for cruise ship medical facilities were published by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) in 1995, most recently updated in 2013. The ACEP guidelines, which are followed by most major cruise lines, state that the cruise ship medical facilities should maintain the following minimum capabilities:
Provide emergency medical care for passengers and crew; Stabilize patients and initiate reasonable diagnostic and therapeutic interventions; Facilitate the evacuation of seriously ill or injured patients.
Cruise ship medical clinics deal with a wide variety of illnesses and injuries. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “Approximately 3%–11% of conditions reported to cruise ship infirmaries are urgent or an emergency. Approximately 95% of illnesses are treated or managed aboard, and 5% require evacuation and shore side consultation for medical, surgical, and dental problems. Approximately half of passengers who seek medical care are older than 65 years. Most (69%–88%) passenger dispensary visits are due to medical conditions, of which respiratory (19%–29%) and gastrointestinal (GI) (9%–10%) illnesses are the most frequently reported diagnoses. Approximately 10%–25% of passengers report seasickness, and injuries (typically from slips, trips, or falls) account for 12%–18% of medical visits. Death rates for cruise ship passengers, most often from cardiovascular events, range from 0.6 to 9.8 deaths per million passenger-nights.”
Women who are pregnant or could be pregnant should use extra precautions in the following cruise ports: Bugs BeGone
Recent Caribbean Outbreak Travel Alerts
March 10, 2017 – Zika Virus in Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Martin, Sint Maarten and the US Virgin Islands.