First aid for when the
by Linda Coffman
Things happen to even the most careful people and on a cruise
vacation and there are a lot of unusual "things" that can
land you in the ship's hospital. In unfamiliar surroundings, even a
nocturnal trip to the bathroom has its hazards.
Before you leave home there are a
few items to consider. First of all, don't forget any prescription
medications you regularly take. The ship's pharmacy may not have
what you need. If they do, great. Just don't expect the ship's
doctor to hand over pills without examining you. I remember an
outraged tablemate who forgot his prescription medicine and raged on
about how the doctor just "wanted to charge him for an office
visit." Stop and think about it... if you were on a land
vacation, would a physician unfamiliar with you simply hand over
prescription medications because you said you needed them?
If you are examined by the ship's
doctor, be prepared to pay for your office visit. Unless you carry
very comprehensive medical insurance coverage, you probably are not
covered for treatment aboard a cruise ship, or in any foreign
country, for that matter. Check before you leave home and be
prepared to pay for any treatment you require and file your own
claim later. If your medical coverage is through Medicare, you
certainly will not be covered outside the United States. It is worth
noting that ALL ships of foreign registry are considered to be
"outside the United States" by Medicare; however, this
point is not explained clearly in the Medicare Manual.
Suppose you do fall in the night? From personal experience, I can
tell you it hurts to scrape your knee on carpeting. That's just what
I did when I tripped over a discarded item of clothing on my cabin
floor one night. Fortunately, I had a band aid in my purse—but
only one. And no antiseptic cream. The next day I reported to the
ship's hospital and explained to the nurse what I'd done. On the
corner of her desk was a basket containing bandages of various sizes
and miniature packets of antiseptic ointment. I was invited to help
myself. Oh, and incidentally, I could also help myself to mal de
mer remedies in case of seasickness. Those items were gratis.
Who you gonna call?
For a slightly more
serious problem, your ship's doctor should be able to treat you as
well as any land-locked general practitioner.
On a Caribbean cruise, my husband
Mel signed up for the America's Cup Yachting excursion in St.
Martin. When he returned, his first stop was the ship's hospital.
The doctor took one look at his mashed thumb and said, "Don't
tell me. You were a 'grinder,' right?" Seems the grinders on
racing yachts have a propensity for mashed thumbs. Mel is very
finicky about medical care and pain. He was well pleased with the
treatment, including a splint and heavy-duty pain killers. As
an added bonus of sorts, because his injury happened on a shore
excursion purchased on the ship, the medical treatment was
I had the misfortune to catch my
heel in a stair tread and do a swan dive down a flight of steps on a
cruise ship. Other than my damaged pride, my injuries included
scraped and bruised shins. The ship's physician cleaned the wounds
and dressed them with antiseptic and bandages. His nurse followed up
my progress not once but three times! Again, the medical services
were complimentary because I'd fallen on the ship due to a loose
stair tread. I was very lucky not to have broken an arm or leg,
which I attribute to my habit of always using the hand rails.
To insure or not...
For a really serious problem, such as a heart attack or
appendicitis, your ship's medical team will have to evacuate you to
the nearest hospital ashore. The expenses involved can rise as fast
as the helicopter that whisks you away. To cover those costs, travel
insurance is a must. It's an entirely different matter... one I take
up in Going
HINT: Take along a
nightlight or leave the bathroom light on before you retire for the
night. Even with the door closed, enough light usually shines beneath
it to guide your way.
Find the right
policy for you from one of these Travel
Pack a Cruise
Travel First Aid Kit and be prepared for small emergencies.
Get CruiseDiva.com's list of what to include.
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