Is There a Doctor on the Ship ~ Medical Care on a Cruise Ship

by Jessica on December 7, 2011

There is the sound of a certain cough or a certain cry that instantly alerts the mommy radar that something is wrong.  When it is determined that a quick kiss and a bandaid won't fix the problem, we rely on our trusted medical professionals to help to ease the illness and our worries.  But what if you find yourself with a sick or injured kid and you are aboard a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean?  Can you trust the medical professionals onboard?

Although, I have been blessed with reasonably healthy kids, with four boys, I have more than enough punches on my frequent shopper card at the local emergency clinic.  Broken bones, stitches, yucky colds with trouble breathing-we've done it all.   So, when I boarded the Carnival Magic this week with three boys in tow, I had some concerns about what would happen if we needed medical care while at sea.  Of course, I knew there had to be some kind of doctor onboard, but I was skeptical about whether I would be willing to trust the level of care for my kids.

Triage Area of the Medical Center

To ease my worries, I took a trip down to the Medical Center to see for myself what to expect.   Dr. Andy Mawson happily hosted me on my tour, and first assured me that all doctors aboard the Carnival ships are fully credentialed and must speak English.  So, a real, actual doctor that I can understand?  Sounds promising. 

Tight Quarters, but everything you need to treat any kind of emergency

He went on to explain that not only are the two doctors and five registered nurses qualified, but they are also required to have advanced training in traumatic care and attend yearly ongoing education.   In addition, the doctors are satellite linked with doctors at Jackson Memorial in Miami should they need to consult in any area or require the assistance of a specialist, such as a radiologist to interpret medical findings.

The Medical Center can easily treat any common childhood incidences-strep throat, ear infections, nebulizer treatments, broken bones, or stitches, including antibiotics or other medicines necessary. Knowing that  any of these normal child ailments could be handled onboard without a need to transfer to a land based  medical facility made me rest a little easier.  In more serious cases, the center can fully stabilize in any cardiac or respiratory emergency, and are completely outfitted with pediatric emergency equipment.

Mobile Emergency Cart~including pediatric supplies

Dr. Mawson was quick to insist that they are not interested in heroic acts.  I do think the good doctor is a bit too humble, as I learned that he and his team had just recently worked for over 1 ½ hours to revive a man who was in complete cardiac arrest.   Thanks to their expertise, this man is making a full recovery and can continue to be a husband, father, and grandfather to the loved ones in his life.    With confidence, I can trust the treatment of my children to that level of medical care and concern, at sea or otherwise.



Steve December 8, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Thanks for the tour of a room I hope I never have to see. Good to know it's there though. 

Lisa December 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm

We had an up close look at the medical centre while cruising in the Baltics on Emerald Princess.  It's was the first sea day and we picked Emma up from the kids club to get ready for formal night.  By the time we got to our room she was complaining that she was itchy and appeared to have a few hives on her legs.  I applied some Benadryl cream but the hives started spreading and she soon had them all over her arms and legs and a couple appeared on her face.  At this point we rushed to the medical centre and the doctor confirmed that it was an allergic reaction and gave her a shot of antihistamine as well as a dose of oral antihistamine.  Within a few minutes she was fine.  The doctor and the nurses were wonderful and the care she received was excellent.  It's certainly reassuring to know that there is quality medical care close at hand even though we all hope that we will never have need of it.

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