Cruising with Your Elderly Parents: How to Stay Safe on a Cruise Ship

cruising with seniors

If you're looking for a fun, relaxing vacation with your elderly parents, a cruise may be the perfect option! Cruising can be a great way for seniors to see new places and enjoy all the amenities of a luxury ship. However, it's important to take some precautions to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable trip. In this blog post, we'll share some tips on cruising with seniors.

Usually, when we think of a family cruise vacation it is a discussion about how old children need to be to cruise and the fun amenities on cruise ships that kids will enjoy such as waterparks and kids clubs. Today, however, we're going to talk about the other end of the spectrum when it comes to family vacations - cruising with your elderly parents.

 

Why Cruising Is A Great Vacation Option For Seniors

There are many reasons why cruising is a great vacation option for seniors. First of all, it is an all-inclusive vacation where everything is taken care of for you.

Another reason why cruising is a great option for seniors is that there are plenty of activities and amenities onboard most cruise ships that cater to older travelers. For example, many cruise lines offer fitness classes, cooking demonstrations, dance lessons, and other activities that seniors can enjoy without needing to be particularly athletic or full of energy. In addition, most cruise ships have pools, hot tubs, spas, and other leisure facilities that seniors can use to relax and enjoy.

Finally, it should not be ignored that depending on the cruise line and itinerary, there are a lot of cruisers that would fall into the seniors category. While the cruise industry wants to promote cruising to a younger generation - currently 33% of cruisers are 60+ according to a CLIA 2018 report and 51% are over 50 years old.

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As a result of this pattern, your parents will be able to find interesting people their age to socialize with on the cruise, and similarly, the crew will be experienced in working with elderly guests as well.

 

Special Considerations You Need To Consider On A Cruise

While cruising is a great option for seniors, there are some special considerations you need to take into account before booking your trip.

The first thing you need to consider when booking a cruise for your elderly parents is their health and fitness level. While most cruise ships have plenty of activities and amenities for seniors, not all of them will be suitable for everyone.

For example, if your parents are not particularly mobile, then an itinerary with lots of shore excursions that involve walking or hiking may not be the best option. Even mobility on the ship is a consideration and that's why you will often see many people who take a heavy-duty mobility scooter on a cruise with them most ships also work with vendors who can provide rentals that can be provided to guests who need them.

If your parent has any medical conditions that could be exacerbated by heat or cold, then a cruise to the Caribbean in the summer or a late-season Alaska cruise might not be the best idea either.

It's important to consult with your parents' doctor before booking a cruise to make sure that they will be able to participate in the activities onboard and that the climate of the itinerary you are considering is appropriate for their health.

Finally, if you have never cruised before, you may be surprised at how small a typical cruise ship cabin is. You will also notice nuances to the cruise ship stateroom design that make cruising particularly awkward for those with mobility problems. These include a step up into the bathroom as well as a lip around the door to your balcony and a generally cramped design that can be difficult to navigate.

However, all major cruise ships offer "Accessible Staterooms" that are designed to overcome these issues and they can be requested by your travel advisor so that you have additional room and especially a bathroom that can accommodate people in wheelchairs as well as those who may need space for a cane or walker.

 

Do You Need Cruise Insurance?

While most people don't think about cruise insurance, it is something you should consider when booking a cruise for your elderly parents - especially if they have any pre-existing medical conditions.

Cruise insurance can protect you in the event that your parent has to cancel their cruise due to a covered medical reason before the trip. It can also provide coverage if they need emergency medical care while on the cruise and have to be evacuated off the ship.

Additionally, many policies will reimburse you for any non-refundable expenses if you have to cancel or interrupt your trip for a covered reason such as severe weather, jury duty, or military deployment.

While it's not required, we always recommend purchasing cruise insurance whenever you book a cruise vacation.

 

What Medical Care Is Available On A Cruise If Your Parent Gets Injured?

Despite the negative reputation that some people might have about cruise ships, compared to hotels and resorts, they are among the safest and most sanitary ways to travel. Not only are crew members constantly washing and sanitizing handrails, elevator buttons, and any other area where guests could touch but there's almost always a full medical center staffed by nurses and doctors on the ship.

While each vessel is different and the medical team may be foreign-trained, they are among the most professional medical staff that I've ever had to opportunity to engage with.

In addition to the ability to tend to minor injuries such as cuts, scrapes, and sprained ankles, the medical team is also trained to prescribe common medications, perform minor surgeries, and most importantly stabilize patients with more serious medical conditions until a medical evacuation can be arranged.

Luckily for most cruisers sailing from west coast ports, it is relatively quick to reach top medical facilities on land. Compared to an emergency that might happen in the middle of the Caribbean or on a trans-Pacific journey, a Baja or even Mexican Riviera cruise will almost always be within air ambulance helicopter range.

For example, the maximum range of an EC 145 medical helicopter is 680 km but the distance from Long Beach to Ensenada is only 300 km. This means that it could theoretically reach the ship and return to a hospital on land at any point during your Baja Mexico cruise or Coastal California cruise.

 

Cruising Is A Great Vacation Option For Adults And Their Parents

Planning a family cruise vacation with your parents is a great opportunity to spend time together without all the hassles of having to have them at your house or worrying about things like who's cooking or what activities you need to plan that day. While there are certain special considerations to plan for when cruising with seniors, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Plus, as my uncle said just before he passed away earlier this year ... "if nothing else I'll just sit there and watch people and the sea go by".

Simply relaxing and doing nothing but people-watching is one of the best parts of cruising and something I think all ages can enjoy but maybe our elderly parents appreciate it more than we do.