How Much Does Medical Care Cost on a Cruise? Real Examples (X-Rays, Consultations & More)

If you are going on a cruise, you might be wondering how much medical care, such as X-Rays or a consultation with a doctor would cost.  Hopefully, you will never need to find out, but I recently took an MSC cruise, and this pricelist was clearly displayed in the medical centre.

How Much Does it Cost to See a Doctor on a Cruise?

A medical consultation on a cruise usually costs around $100 (£85) if during medical centre opening hours. This price rises to around $165 (£137) for appointments outside of opening hours and can rise as high as $205 (£170) if a doctor needs to visit a guest’s cabin.

A nurse’s consultation or cabin visit is around half of the prices mentioned above.

Prices vary from one cruise line to another. The below prices are from MSC:


How Much do X-Rays Cost on a Cruise?

X-rays on cruises usually cost between $100-$200 (£80-£160). A series of X-Rays on a finger starts at $105 (£85). Chest X-rays usually cost $125 (£100). It costs $145 (£120) for ankle X-rays and $165 (£135) for facial X-Rays.

Do All Cruise Ships Have Medical Centres Onboard?

On all cruise ships, you will find a well-equipped medical centre with a number of highly trained medical staff. Generally speaking the larger the cruise ship the bigger the medical centre, but all are equipped to deal with life-threatening injuries and illnesses.

Normally you will find the medical centre on one of the lower decks of the ship. 

It will have regular hours of opening, but if you need treatment outside of those times staff will be on call 24 hours a day.  Of course, it will cost you more if you receive medical attention or consultations outside the normal opening hours.

On many of the newer, bigger cruise ships you’ll find full x-ray machines and a lot of equipment that you’d expect to find in a hospital on land.

Of course, the priority is always to try and get unwell patients to land as soon as possible but as this isn’t always option cruise ships have to be as prepared as they can be.

What Happens if You’re on a Cruise and Need Urgent, Lifesaving Treatment?

If you needed urgent, life-saving treatment and the cruise ship was in port, they would then send you to a hospital on land.

If the ship were at sea, the only option might be to airlift you by helicopter to the nearest suitable hospital. This is stressful and costly!

Being airlifted off a cruise usually costs at least $20,000 and this can rise into the hundreds of thousands depending on location and other factors.

This is one reason why taking out travel insurance with good medical cover is essential when cruising.  Do not EVER cruise without travel insurance.

Travel insurance can be taken out either with the cruise line or separately, but make sure your policy has adequate cover for medical expenses and that it covers cruises specifically.

With some policies you need to add cruise cover as an “add on” – it isn’t covered as standard.

Find everything you need to know about taking out cruise travel insurance here: Cruise Travel Insurance – Why You Need it and How to Get It: (Step by Step Illustrated Guide)

Do You Have to Pay Upfront for X-Rays and Other Treatment?

On a cruise, medical treatment needs to be paid for upfront. Guests can then claim back the costs through medical insurance if they have a policy in place.

Will You Still Have to Pay if you Have Taken Out Insurance with the Cruise Line Itself?

If you have taken out a cruise insurance policy directly with the cruise line you usually still do have to pay upfront. You will have to pay for your treatment, and then sort out the insurance afterwards.

There may be some exceptions to this, where the cruise line claim directly from their own travel insurance company, but this is not the norm.

A reader emailed us to tell his story of Norwegian Cruiseline Travel insurance.

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