Almost all modern cruise ships feature a full service medical centre on board and dedicated doctors and nurses are available at all times.
Usually located in the mid-ship area, the medical centre is well equipped to carry out short-term care, with facilities usually including ECG machines, nebulisers, oxygen, X-ray machines, pathology, a passenger in-patient ward, 24-hour emergency services, fully stocked medication cabinet and defibrillators.
Any passengers requiring dialysis should be aware that it must be self-administered or performed by a nurse or carer accompanying the patient on their travels.
All cruise lines will charge passengers to visit the on board medical centre, with the charge dependent on time of day and cruise line. For example, P&O Cruises charge a £50 consultation fee prior to any treatment being given. Out of hours visits incur a higher charge than those within the medical centre’s normal clinic opening times. All medical treatment and services will be chargeable, which is why it is so important that guests have travel insurance covering all pre-existing medical conditions.
The facilities available on board cruise ships are not intended to carry out long-term patient care and a senior doctor will decide the necessary course of action in more serious cases. Options include moving the passenger to an onshore hospital in the next port or arranging an airlift from the ship’s helipad if the medical issue is considered very serious.
Cruise ships are not equipped to provide medical care for babies under six months.