Cruise doctors not responsible for your health


By Jacki Donaldson
General Health

If you believe relaxation contributes to good health and you believe cruises lead to relaxation, then sailing the oceans blue might be just what you need. But if you believe there will be dependable medical care on board should your health take a detour, then you’d possibly be wrong and therefore, a cruise may not be just what you need.

Nearly 10 million Americans will set sail this year. What these 10 million may not know is that cruise lines claim no responsibility for doctors’ actions. Cruise lines hire doctors, and they assign them as part of the crew — but the buck stops there. The doctor merely has to claim to be competent. If he or she is not, cruise lines disavow any responsibility whatsoever.

This fact can be found in the fine print on tickets, Web sites, and brochures. But most of us don’t read every detail and for some, discovering this hidden wording occurs too late. If cruise lines are not responsible, then the doctors must be, right? In theory, perhaps. But many doctors are foreigners who and are tough to track down in legal scenarios.

In the book Unsafe on the High Seas, Miami attorney Charles Lipcon offers advice for protecting yourself : Get travel insurance if yours doesn’t have an evacuation provision, he says. And bring copies of your medical records, and tell the cruise line about pre-existing conditions. And most important: If you have a serious medical problem, maybe a cruise is not right for you.