Our research finds that getting medical attention on a cruise ship could cost you hundreds of pounds. From seasickness to forgetting your pills, watch out for costly medical bills that’ll leave you feeling queasy.
I’ve only felt seasick once, on a whale watching trip off New England. It was an unforgettable experience. Excitement about potentially seeing a monster mammal was overtaken by waves of nausea that left me with little interest in anything.
So the idea of being stuck on a cruise ship feeling sick appalls me – and I’d be even more appalled if I got hit by a big bill for some treatment to make me feel better.
But it does happen – Which? members have been telling us about the steep bills they’ve been receiving for medical treatment on board ships.
One member was angry at having to pay £70 for a seasickness injection. Another said they felt ripped off when they had to pay £154 to replace some blood pressure pills that they’d forgotten.
Sickening cruise ship medical bills
The cost of treatment on ships will come as a shock if you’re used to getting NHS treatment at home in the UK. Costs are high because all treatment is charged at private healthcare rates
And although you might think your travel insurance will pick up the bill, medical excess clauses in policies mean you can still face paying hundreds of pounds.
For example, one member’s wife was presented with a bill of £2,500 after having treatment for pneumonia on board a P&O ship. Their insurance policy covered £2,000, but they had to make up the difference, leaving them £500 short.
A lot of travellers are getting hit by these bills. We found that about one in five of the 1,368 Which? members who’d been on a cruise visited the ship’s doctor. The average bill was £233, but 12 of the claims were for £500 or more, and one reported a bill of £6,500!
Check your travel insurance policy
And three in ten had to foot the entire bill themselves, as their travel insurer would not pay up. For instance, the member who had to pay for replacement blood pressure pills had her claim turned down because the insurer won’t pay if the customer forgets to bring their medicine on holiday.
So if you’re heading off on a cruise and you think you might get seasick, make sure to buy your sickness pills before you go. And make sure to check your travel insurance to see what it covers and how much excess you’ll have to pay if you do claim.
Otherwise it could be the medical bill, rather than the ocean waves, that leave you feeling nauseous.
Have you ever needed treatment on a cruise ship at sea? How was it, and how much did it cost? Did you think it was fair, or a rip off?