Preparing For Your Cruise
Many people enjoy the experience of a cruise for their vacation. Cruises offer the experiences and views of the ocean without the cramped quarters of an airplane and the all-inclusive options that many hotels do not provide. This can allow for a much smoother travel experience and a much less stressful vacation for those who prefer not to rush around or be responsible for coordinating their hotels and their meals during their travels. Indeed, cruise ships are known for having all of the amenities, from top dining options to classy spa experiences. Cruise company websites are happy to report all of their exciting onboard options on their websites. They even appear to have medical help onboard in case of an emergency. This sounds great for many, but those with hepatitis C may not be as aware as they should be for their cruising experience.
It is true that there is medical help aboard most cruise ships. However, that help may be only able to provide basic care needs for concerns that are typical on cruises, such as splinter removal from walking barefoot, a sprained ankle due to dancing in high heels, scrapes, and abrasions that are common with water slides onboard, and other minor medical concerns. In most cases, the one doctor and one nurse typically available are only given a small number of tools and a compact space to work within. Their goal is to keep the cruise guests happy and calm and they plan that any true medical emergency can be managed onboard but treated at the next cruise port. For those with hepatitis C, this can become a problem. For this reason, it is important to make the treating physician or clinic aware of any travel plans so that they can work with the patient to minimize risks while the patient is traveling.
On Your Cruise
While on the cruise, it is important that the typical Universal Precautions continue for anyone with hepatitis C and anyone traveling with them. People who are currently taking hepatitis C treatment medications may want to bring extra pills with them, as they may be impossible to obtain while away from home and it is crucial that the medication regimen continue on schedule regardless of a patient’s travel plans.
For people who are traveling to other countries where English is not the location’s primary language, it may be helpful to write down the translation of some basic medical terms related to one’s hepatitis C diagnosis. This will ensure that the information can be properly understood by medical personnel if there is a need to visit a local medical facility during the cruise. It can also help to prevent a local doctor from prescribing or providing any medication that may have interactions with the hepatitis C antiviral drugs that are currently being taken.
In addition, some medications can lead to a sensitivity to the sun, which means that those taking medications with this side effect should be hypervigilant about wearing and reapplying sunscreen throughout the trip. Other medication side effects of many medications include dizziness and nausea, which may increase the chances of sea sickness or falling while onboard a moving cruise ship. It may be a wise idea to pack anti-nausea medications that the doctor approves and to wear shoes without high heels and with additional grip to minimize risks of injury due to falls. Doctors may also recommend medications for the stomach, as some side effects of hepatitis C medications can include diarrhea or constipation, which may become problematic if a person is eating and drinking different types of foods on their cruise than is standard in their home life.
After Your Cruise
Upon return from the cruise, a patient’s regular doctor may wish to have an office visit in order to discuss whether there were any medical concerns or situations onboard the cruise ship. During this visit, the doctor may want to discuss whether there were any medication side effects experienced and whether there are any new concerns that the patient wishes to discuss. While it may seem easy to dismiss the request for this visit, it is important to consider the overall treatment protocol and plan and how this check-up visit may be beneficial to the overall treatment goals.1-3