Medical Facility on Princess Ships

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Joined Jun 2007
Originally posted by voljeep might help the forum posters to get an idea of the cost as compared to on land
I came down with bronchitis on the ship. The doctor listened the my lungs in just 2 spots and charged me $65. I was given a generic Z-pack (5 days of azithromycin) and charged $65!! A generic Z-pack costs about $4 at a pharmacy. On top of it, my insurance wouldn't pay since they said we were in international waters.
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Phoenix, AZ
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Joined Oct 2005
Thanks again to all who responded. Very informative.

By the way I did email Med Vac Assist - turns out people over 84 can get insurance if they are members of AARP. Think it is $750 per year and only covers international travel. But for us it is now a timing issue. There is quite an extensive medical form to fill out and you have to have all doctors sign the form. Well one of hers is gone for two weeks. And then it takes them 5 to 7 days to approve. And we leave in two and a half weeks. So not sure that will work for her.

Regarding having her gall bladder removed we are still waiting for the surgeon to review the case and determine if she is a candidate. If she is, and she would have it removed, she would not recover in time for the cruise, so we would definitely cancel. But at her age surgery is risky and she is not certain she wants to go through it.

Now on a related subject (and mainly cause I am curious) has any one had experience with hospitals in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala or Nicaragua. I am sure they are fine but interesting if there are any first hand experiences. When we were in Cuba we were told that health care is free (for residents) but when they go to hospital they have to bring their own sheets, towels, soap, etc.
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Originally posted by Go-Bucks!
I came down with bronchitis on the ship. The doctor listened the my lungs in just 2 spots and charged me $65. I was given a generic Z-pack (5 days of azithromycin) and charged $65!! A generic Z-pack costs about $4 at a pharmacy. On top of it, my insurance wouldn't pay since they said we were in international waters.
A good example of why travel (medical) insurance is a good idea.
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Might I suggest that it may be helpful to take the most recent copies of any lab tests or imaging with you in case she does have an attack onboard. It all helps
At home
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Originally posted by voljeep
Not to be noisy - but 'approximately' how much did that visit cost including x-ray and med, etc - and obviously you can ignore - but it might help the forum posters to get an idea of the cost as compared to on land
Since we did not see the Sister in Law until the Mustard Drill and then a phone call between the Wife and her Sister, and a visit to the Clinic for information, and back to the Cabin to Collect the Sister in Law it was after 6:00PM. After 6:00 PM night time office call charges kick in.
Day time was $95.00 for the visit. Night Time was $180.00 for the Visit. Then with X=Rays and Meds, the cost was just short of $400.00. However, the Sister in Law was lucky in the fact that the Doctor wanted to see her again the next day to check her out and to find out how she was sleeping. Doctors concern was that if she did not breath deeply she could go into other problems with her lungs.
Like I said, very good care by the Medical team on the ship.
And, with the Meds provided she was able to the take the 3 hr bus ride into Paris, so she did not miss out on that.
Phoenix, AZ
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Thanks to Flatbush Flyer for mentioning about the pre-existing conditions and the fine print. I decided to review the information and ended up calling Aon Travel (the company that provides the Princess Insurance.)

I found out there is a lot I didn't know. First, although we indicated that we wanted the insurance when we initially booked the cruise it does not become effective until it is paid for (in this case final payment). So anything that happens in the 60 days before final payment is not covered.

I was also told by the insurance company that since this was a pre-existing condition that they would not pay us back in cash if we canceled (but probably could get the credit for a future cruise) butalso that if she required care on the ship for something gall bladder related they would not cover the cost.

So most likely we will be canceling the cruise and hopefully will get the credit to use for a future cruise. I may be the only one that did not realize when the effective date of the policy is but in the event I am not passing on the information.

Again thanks to all for your help and assistance.

25,105 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Originally posted by jill1349
So most likely we will be canceling the cruise and hopefully will get the credit to use for a future cruise. I may be the only one that did not realize when the effective date of the policy is but in the event I am not passing on the information.

I think a lot of people are confused on this. When someone says they pay for insurance upfront, everyone asks why. This is why!

Honestly - with your Mom's age, I would only buy 3rd party insurance. Princess's insurance only covers $10K and $20K. This is nothing in today's world. It is not cheap but it is better to get good coverage.
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I would like to offer my experience from my husband heart attack on board our last cruise and what I did to better assist me in keeping track of all the information etc that I became overwhelmed with. I set up folders for the different Medical expenses, correspondences, copies of individual Dr's bills etc plus our Insurance Company payouts, so any future calls from the different companies, I could pull out and refer to. I noted the times, date and person I spoke with. I had never been put in this situation before so a fast learning experience for me. We all hope a loved one doesn't have a medical emergency during our cruise, but being prepared in the event it happens is very important along with having excellent Insurance to help us out when it does happen.

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Originally posted by jill1349
Thank you all for the information on the medical facility, much, much appreciated. Yes, this is a Panama Canal cruise and yes the issue is gall stones. If it was like her prior situation she would not require surgery but would require fluids, pain medication, and antibiotics.

I have looked into regular travel insurance and Med-Vac Assist but the cost is very high because of her age. That is main reason we chose the Princess Insurance because it is the same cost no matter the age. Of course that was prior to her gall bladder attack and even if she wanted to consider it now it likely would be considered a pre-existing condition and not cover her anyway.

Her GI Doctor has said there are no easy answers. He said she may never have another attack or she could have one tomorrow. He also encouraged us to go on the cruise so we are now leaning in that direction.

Again thanks for all of the information - while much of it backs up what I think I already knew it does confirm some of the information and I learned a few new things.

I don't understand why when she had the attack they didn't remove her gallbladder and be done with it. Even if it was inflamed and needed antibiotics to calm it down for a few days, gallbladder surgery is a day surgery which means it's done in the morning and you go home that night. Eating rich cruise ship food would not be a bet I would want to take. If she has another attack on the ship she would most likely have to be evacuated because although they could treat her pain, they could not be sure she didn't have a common bile duct stone which could be more serious and require a special scope procedure which I am sure they don't do onboard. Just my 2 cents!
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Originally posted by indygirl99
I asked about surgery on board and the Doctor said they could do simple stuff. Of course I had to ask what simple meant and she laughed and said sutures, removal of foreign bodies and non compound fractures. She said appendix and gall bladders were out and they made arrangements to move those patients to a land based hospital.
Had a lady who got off a Princess ship that returned one Saturday from an Alaskan cruise in Seattle about 4-5 years ago and was walking very slowly toward a bus in the bus lot. To make a long story short, she told me that they had done an emergency appendectomy on her on the cruise. I guess that for one reason or another they were unable to get her off the ship and had to do it on board. I figured she must have known whether they operated on her or not. Like many things, sometimes emergencies call for changes in normal procedures! But I can understand why they wouldn't want to do them under normal conditions!!

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For the person that was asking about costs -
Costs vary but we paid between $100-$210 for our 4 visits on 4 different cruises for 4 different reasons. Last one was in 2012 so I'm sure they've gone up since then. None of them were that serious - just tests, an immunization and medications. Worth every penny.
For the person that was asking about hospital care in Mexico & Costa Rica - I only have experience in Mexico. That's where I sustained a head injury and we refused treatment there despite the fact that I almost lost consciousness. I preferred to be treated on the ship by a doctor who was up to US standards in a setting I was more familiar with near my comfy cabin.
Costa Rica is supposedly a great place to be in hospital from what I hear - clean, cheap, well-trained doctors with well-equipped facilities.
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