Home Cruise Safely FAQ – Health on Cruise Ships

Cruise lines continuously focus on providing clean and sanitary environments aboard their ships for the health of all on board. Should the need arise, cruise lines are equipped with medical facilities for guests and crewmembers. All of CLIA’s oceangoing members must adhere to “Health Care Guidelines for Cruise Ship Medical Facilities” established by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the largest association of emergency medical professionals in the world.

“…Sensationalized news reports about norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships simply do not line up with the facts. The latest CDC report provides strong evidence that cruise lines are going to great lengths to protect the health of passengers — and are succeeding.“

– Christine Duffy, President & CEO, CLIA

Q. Are Cruise Ships a Likely Place to Get Sick?

A. Cruise lines take numerous measures to look out for the health of passengers. CLIA member cruise lines have implemented enhanced passenger health screening procedures, especially during the flu season, to identify and offer medical assistance to ill passengers prior to boarding. Cruise lines also educate crew and passengers on proper hand hygiene practices to help maintain a clean and healthy environment.

Q. Are Cruise Ships Subject to Health Inspections?

A. Yes – in fact, each cruise ship operating to or from the U.S. is subject to dozens of announced and unannounced safety, environmental and health inspections each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and numerous other agencies have jurisdiction to conduct inspections of all cruise ships that call on U.S. ports.

Q. What Happens In I Get Sick On Board a Cruise Ship?

A. CLIA member ocean-going cruise lines must have certified medical staff on board. CLIA and its member cruise lines work with the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) in adhering to well-established guidelines for physician qualifications and medical facilities on cruise ships. Medical staff must be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Physicians must be able to provide advanced life support, emergency cardiovascular care and minor surgical procedures.

Shipboard medical staffing is generally based on the passenger and crew capacity of each ship. Smaller ships have at least one licensed physician and one registered nurse, but it is common for larger ones to have two or three licensed physicians and up to five registered nurses per ship.

Q. Do Cruise Ships Keep Medicines on Board for Treating Passengers?

A. Yes, a range of medication is available and administered by licensed medical staff as needed.


Q. What is Norovirus?

A. Norovirus is a type of stomach bug that is one of the most prevalent illnesses in the general population on land, second only to the common cold.  It is much, much less common on cruise ships. Most cases of norovirus are not serious and most people recover within one or two days.

Not a Cruise Virus

Q. How Can Passengers Protect Themselves from Norovirus, the Common Stomach Bug?

A. Follow the CDC’s Cruising Tips – and make sure to wash your hands carefully and regularly – to help stay healthy on board.

Find more Information on Cruise Line Health on CruiseForward.com ->

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