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While glossy cruise brochures may imply that their ships have sick bays equipped to deal with anything, the reality is that the medical facilities on-board many luxury liners are no more comprehensive than the average GP surgery.
Passengers often make the erroneous assumption that medical services on board are free when they are not. Medical treatment on board has to be paid for and is generally far more costly than a private service in the UK. Travel insurer Holidaysafe.co.uk lists some of the average costs of common medical claims on board cruise ships:
Travellers requiring anything more than a routine course of antibiotics will need to disembark at the nearest port for further medical treatment, and are often unable to rejoin the ship due to the ship’s packed itinerary or, in some cases, the reluctance of the ship’s doctor to accept a passenger back on board who could cause more problems.
Elderly passengers are particularly at risk, with the medical staff on-board frequently unable to treat common problems such as leg ulcers, whereas this service is normally provided free of charge by a district nurse at home.
Perhaps one of the greatest risks is the spread of contagious illnesses, such as stomach bugs, which can quickly pass from person to person on board a cruise ship. The staff on board take the spread of illness extremely seriously, confining affected passengers and also people that are considered to be vulnerable, such as those with respiratory problems, to their cabins. Because they have been confined, these passengers may miss their pre-paid excursions when the ship docks at port and may not receive a refund from the excursion organisers. Another thing to consider is that cruise ships may not always have a dentist on board.
Amber Howard, brand manager of travel insurer Holidaysafe.co.uk said:
“While travel insurance might not be the first thing you consider when preparing to go on a dream cruise, it is important to make sure you get the right cover, and purchase a specialist Cruise Travel Insurance product, which covers not only the costs of emergency on board treatment, but will also cover the costs of pre-paid excursions should you be confined to your cabin during your trip.
Although cruise ships are maintained to high safety standards, a nasty fall on unfamiliar ground could prove to be extremely costly and we recommend that all those going on a cruise ensure that they are properly covered before setting off.”
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