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This is the Essential Cruise Tips Podcast with cruise expert and author Gary Bembridge. Full of tips, advice and ways to plan and get the most from your cruising vacation.

Aug 25, 2014

Gary Bembridge author of "The Cruise Traveler's Handbook" provides another 60-Second Cruise Tip. For more visit and subscribe free to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio

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What if I fall ill?

Maritime law requires ships at sea with over 12 passengers to have a doctor on board. You are likely to find 24-hour medical cover on cruise ships and a facility staffed by doctors and nurses to deal with everything from minor injuries and daily problems through to serious medical issues. Your on-board account is charged if you use the service, and it costs about the same as accessing land-based private medical care. You will be given a receipt to make an insurance claim if you are covered.

With serious medical cases the medical center stabilizes and make patients comfortable until they can be offloaded to hospital. If the problem is acute and the ship is far from land but accessible by helicopter the patient may be evacuated. The facilities are impressive and even include a high-dependency room (i.e. close to intensive care ), they can take x-rays and have a large pharmacy of drugs.

River cruise ships do not have medical facilities and refer you to local doctors and medical centres along the route. Freighters taking fare-paying passengers carry less than 12 people to avoid having to provide medical cover.