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How Injuries And Illnesses Are Treated On Cruise Ships

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2023 | Maritime Accidents

Thousands of New York and New Jersey residents take cruises each year, and unfortunately some of them are injured or become ill while at sea. In some cases, dozens or even hundreds of crew members and passengers develop the same illness. Infectious diseases spread quickly on cruise ships, and there is often little that medical staff can do to stop them. In January 2019, 31 crew members and 561 passengers on a cruise ship that had recently departed Florida were diagnosed with norovirus stomach flu. Fortunately, that disease is rarely fatal.

Cruise line regulations

Cruise operators are strictly regulated, and many of the rules they have to follow establish minimum standards for medical care. All cruise ships that depart or arrive at U.S. ports must have a qualified medical officer on duty at all times, and vessels that carry 250 or more passengers are required to have an intensive care room, an examination room and equipment that can conduct lab tests, monitor vital signs and administer medications. These medical facilities are more than adequate when illnesses and injuries are minor, but they are not designed to deal with an infectious disease outbreak or serious accident injuries.

Soaring medical bills

When maritime injuries or illnesses are serious, passengers must be transported to a health care facility capable of treating them. This is usually done using helicopters, which is very expensive. Health insurance may not be much help in this situation because helicopter trips and treatment in a foreign hospital are unlikely to be covered, which can leave passengers with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills because they got sick or suffered an injury while on vacation.

Travel insurance

About 30 million Americans take cruises every year, and the vast majority of them thoroughly enjoy the experience. When cruise passengers do not enjoy their vacations, it is often because they became ill or suffered injuries and the medical facilities onboard could only provide them with basic treatment. If you decide to take a cruise, you should consider purchasing travel insurance that provides enough coverage to pay for emergency transportation and treatment.