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Getting Sick Aboard a Cruise Ship

Cruise Travel Insurance - Getting Sick Aboard the Ship

Cruises are great. Get on board and enjoy the scenic ports of call, entertainment, pampering, and incredible food... that's usually the case. But according to Travel Insurance Services, cruise passengers get hurt or sick often enough that they should be prepared for the possibility. This can include having cruise travel insurance that covers illness, injury and medical evacuation.

A University of Texas study showed that four in 100 passengers visited shipboard infirmaries, 18 percent for injuries and 69 percent for medical conditions. The study found similarities between conditions that happen on cruises and those treated at land-based emergency rooms.

More than Sunburns and Hangovers
Cruise lines do have medical care available on board, but many travelers don't realize the variety and seriousness of conditions cruise doctors and nurses see. Most people mistakenly think "cruise line medicine consists of treating sunburns and hangovers," stated Sally van Boheemen, RN and Director of Holland America Line's Fleet Medical Operations. "While those ailments certainly do occur, they are not what keeps ships' medical centers busy."

Conditions can include traveler's diarrhea, a sprained ankle, a broken hip, a stroke, a heart attack or something even more serious. According to the Texas study, "The most common diagnosis was respiratory tract infection (29%); and 11 percent of patients had a serious or potentially life-threatening diagnosis."

Get Current on Your Immunizations
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states "the diversity of passengers and crew members on a typical large cruise ship also means diverse background in health and immunization status, medical and public health tendencies and behavior, and potential for disease exposure." The CDC therefore recommends that cruise travelers be up to date for their "routinely recommended age- and medical condition- specific immunizations."

Be Sure to Have Coverage for Medical Expenses
Passengers often need to leave a ship for medical reasons. In 2000, Holland America Line alone had 600 medical disembarkations. Sometimes passengers can disembark for treatment at a scheduled port or by the ship returning to a port; but other times a specially equipped medical helicopter or air ambulance is needed. That medical evacuation expense can range from $5,000 - $50,000 or more, and may not be covered in a passenger's stateside health insurance plan.

Travelers should check the coverage of their current health plan. Does it cover them for medical expenses throughout their trip, including travel outside their country? Does it pay for medical evacuation? If not, they should find a short-term travel health insurance that will provide coverage.

Travel Insurance Services (TIS) has developed affordable cruise travel insurance plans to meet these needs. Plans like InterMedical Insurance and Travel Insurance Select include benefits for medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation. Each plan also includes 24-hour, multilingual worldwide emergency assistance, that helps to organize emergency medical transportation, provides medical care location service, monitors medical cases, communicates treatments to physicians back home and delivers emergency messages to family and friends.

(Source: Travel Insurance Services)

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