Avoid getting sick on your cruise

Avoid getting sick on your cruise »Play Video

FILE - In this Monday, March 15, 2010 file photo released by the Cruise Shipping Miami conference, five cruise ships are lined up at the Port of Miami, in Miami. the three largest U.S.-based cruise lines on Thursday began posting on their websites more comprehensive data about allegations of serious crimes committed aboard ships. The disclosures were made voluntarily but come amid growing pressure from Congress and crime victims for greater accuracy about crime at sea. The postings by Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line show many more crimes were reported to security personnel than had previously been made public, but still a minuscule number compared with the nearly 17 million people who embark on cruises in North America every year. (AP Photo/Cruise Shipping Miami, Andy Newman)

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - A cruise can be a dream come true, as long as you don't get hurt or sick. the centers for disease control reports that as many as 11 percent of all medical conditions aboard ship are an emergency.

Consumer Reports tells us how to avoid a health care crisis on the high seas. Glitzy ads of luxury cruises often feature the indulgences. They skip the less glamorous story of being sick at sea, and the limited treatment options available. When the Norovirus tore through this cruise ship in January, more than 600 passengers were struck.

"I just remember leaning against, in the bathroom, and I was like: 'Is this what it is like to die?' It's horrific," cruise passenger, Jane Upton, said.

Now imagine yourself days from the nearest port, on a ship without diagnostic equipment like an M-R-I machine, a blood bank, or even specialty doctors.

"Many people believe they are boarding a 'floating hospital,' but a cruise ship is more like a floating hotel, with a doctor at hand," Dr. Orly Avitzur of Consumer Reports said.

Dr. Orly Avitzur of Consumer Reports says, think twice about traveling with a chronic medical condition. The Coast Guard can't always launch a rescue, if the seas are rough or the ship is too far from land. Next, know that most prescription drugs are not available on a cruise ship, so always travel with an extra supply of all medications.

"Also, get ready to pay a premium, out of pocket, for any onboard care, even items like Band-Aids or aspirin. Many people aren't aware that most cruise ships don't accept medical insurance," Dr. Orly Avitzur of Consumer Reports said.

And Consumer Reports says consider travel insurance. It could be invaluable if you end up needing serious medical attention in a foreign port.

All good advice to keep the sailing smooth, if you take a cruise. Consumer Reports advises when you're buying travel insurance, avoid commission-driven policies that are sold by tour operators, travel agents, and cruise lines. Instead, check out an online broker such as insuremytrip.com, which sells coverage from multiple companies.