International travel and health


The risk of communicable and noncommunicable diseases among cruise ship passengers and crew members is difficult to quantify because of the broad spectrum of cruise ship experiences, the variety of destinations and the limited available data. In general, cruise ship travellers should:

  • Before embarking, consult their health-care provider, a physician or travel health specialist on prevention guidelines and immunizations, specifically taking into account:
    • the health status of the individual, the duration of travel, the countries to be visited and likely activities ashore;
    • all routinely recommended medical condition age-specific immunizations;
    • influenza vaccination as available regardless of season, particularly if the traveller belongs to one of the groups for whom annual vaccination against influenza is routinely recommended (Chapter 6); the need to provide a prescription for anti-influenza medication, for treatment or prophylaxis, can then be discussed;
    • immunization and other (e.g. malaria) recommendations that apply to each country on the itinerary;
    • medication against motion sickness, particularly if the individual is prone to motion sickness.
  • See a dentist to make sure they have good oral health and no active problems.
  • Consider purchasing a special health insurance policy for trip cancellation, additional medical coverage and/or medical evacuation if necessary.
  • Abstain from embarking on a cruise if symptomatic with acute illness.
  • Carry all prescription medicines in the original packet or container, together with a doctor’s letter (Chapter 1).
  • Carry out frequent hand-washing, either with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid self-medication in the case of diarrhoea or high fever while on board, but report immediately to the ship’s medical service.