Hi Folks, have any of you been on a cruise and what would say are the main points to consider with COPD?

I'm aware of medical facilities on board, travel insurance, mobility in terms of lifts to decks,

What other general points are there to consider that are not obvious please, given that each cruise ship will be different in size, layout and facilities

Thanks :)

37 Replies

My husband has COPD and we have cruised without problem for about 5 years. However, on our last cruise to Norway, he had an exacerbation which didn't respond to his usual emergency meds. We weren't too concerned because we were aware of the medical centre on board so, for the first time ever, he arranged to see the doctor. All necessary tests were done very quickly and we were then told the news that they thought he should be off-loaded by the ship and cared for at a "local" hospital. As we were docked at the far end of an isolated fiord, this would have meant a 2 hour drive through snow capped mountains. We had assumed that the ship's doctor would have prescribed stronger antibiotics and he would have been cared for in the ship's hospital so it was a very big shock to hear the doctor's verdict. It took a lot of pleading on my part to persuade her to let him stay on board and thankfully the new antibiotics kicked in and he felt better after a few days.

My reason for this rather rambling story is just to give you a "heads-up" that having a doctor on board doesn't necessarily mean that you will be treated on board. I've since learnt that it is common practice on cruise lines to do immediate treatment on board but then to off-load to a hospital as soon as possible.

One last POSITIVE thing - we still hope to cruise this summer but have made sure that we will be visiting ports with good hospitals available!!!

Agree with all Janann's comments. I have cruised quite a lot before I had COPD.

Had superb vacations. Been on 2 where it was necessary for passengers to be taken off ship due to illness,in the Carabbean and Brazil. The crew and medical teams were excellant. 1 was airlifted to hospital and the second by road ambulance.

There are health risks of course on board ship but the crew are trained as are flight attendants on planes! As long as you discuss the trip with your Doctor,heed the advise. And make sure you have spare medications, just in case. I have 2 different inhalers and my doctor gave me a spare set so I could travel with 1 set in hold luggage and the other in my carry on.You should be fine. Plus emergency antibiotics don't forget to get from your GP.

I have recently travelled on my own from UK to USA, visiting family. Travelled internally by road for hundreds of miles and been fine. Made sure I washed my hands regularly ,carried hand sanitiser,ate well no junk food, well I did eat ice cream and donuts. Occasionally. Had a glass.of wine occasionally .

When I am in closed environments with loads of people I dab a drop or 2 of tee tree oil in my nostrils. Be positive and enjoy yourself. Have a great day.

COPD does not stop you living life, it's the bloomin infections. So keep healthy and HAPPY.

Just curious what stage COPD your husband has?

He was severe - but following his PR course and subsequent COPD exercises each week, he is now classed as moderate. Would definitely recommend the PR course!

Wow congratulations, that is great.

Would you mind sharing what COPD exercises he does each week?

Thanks again

His actual PR course was organised by the hospital but it's also possible to continue COPD exercises on a pay as you go basis, run by the same team who did the original PR course. He tries to do both classes each week - they last an hour - but obviously it depends on how he's feeling. It might be worth enquiring at your GPs surgery to see whether there's anything similar in your own area.

I don't have close or easy access to a PR course so often wondered what exercises they do as I would likely be able to do most or many at home.

Thank you

I'm sure I've seen exercises on the BLF web page. When I get a minute, I'll check for you.

Not sure why you and jackdup are posting to each other in this topic? I started a thread about cruises. Maybe it's only on my page that I can see your posts?

I've only just started posting on here so I'm so sorry if I'm doing anything wrong. It was just that he/she responded to my reply to your question about cruising and I've just been replying to him. I don't think I'd better try contributing any more, again, so sorry.

I don`t post very often though I`ve been a member for a few years and read all the posts every day. You contribute as much as you like ! You weren`t doing anything wrong at all. You can reply to anyone you like. Be well, love Sheila x

And why does this bother you? It's not like we are not talking about COPD related topics and I definitely appreciated her replies to my questions.

It is not unusual for a statement made by someone to open up additional conversation which may not directly fit with the original topic. Her original reply was directly related to cruises and I made an inquiry and she was kind enough to answer my questions so am confused by your post.

it was a misunderstanding on my behalf. I mailed mskpjb and jannan25 saying as much, so if we can leave it at that - that would be good - thanks :)

Understood and no hard feelings from my standpoint.

I am in Rehab now . I think it is great...

I was thinking about taking a cruise also and was wondering how to handle the need for oxygen for the flight and ship.

Hi. I have just booked a cruise from Southampton. This saves the having to have a fit to fly test. Also, hopefully miss the germs that we can pick up easier on a plane. I would love to fly but now wonder if it's worth the risk.

Ta - yes I was thinking similar :) James

I am in the USA so if I want to take a Baltic Cruise with my friend I have to fly... I am not certain I want to go on this cruise because it is a little expensive with flight and fare. I would almost prefer flying to England and staying a month so I could view the surrounding area and really see things . . . Earlier this year I flew to Michigan and I flew to Canada with a layover in Denver. I didn't know I had a pulmonary problem so there was no problem. ha ha! Now that I know I have this disease everything is different. Knowledge is power, but in this case I think ignorance was bliss..

I agree - I think a cruise from a UK port is easier than fly/ cruise :)

Hi Just make sure you inform your flight and cruise and they will send you

a form to fill in for there manifest so they will no what items you will be taking like any machine or oxygen .

Thank you.

Biggest problem for me was the smells....deodorants, body sprays, perfume......everyone seems to shower and bathe regularly and then have another bath in smelly things. It floored me the first night when we came out of our cabin to enjoy an evenings entertainment....and it got worse once we were there. Not perturbed too much. Second night, change of tactics. Get changed and dressed early and out before most of the others had started. Another mistake. We were nicely seated, drinks on table, good view of stage....what could go wrong? Everything, that's what. Everyone, fresh from bathing in smells, came up to us to see how we were doing, why we went so early in the afternoon, etc. Everyone gave me a fresh blast and so before long, I was playing Billie no mates, outside, little nose pressed against the window pane, trying to get some air into my lungs......just grateful it wasn't a winter cruise. Made a vow, there and then, I am never going to use the Isle of Wight ferry again. To rub salt into the wound, we weren't even asked to eat at the captains table....on the outward or return voyage.

Consider getting wheel chaired on board when you arrive at the port as there can be quite a queue when you register the porters take your bags to your cabin so that is easy, depending how big the ship is get a cabin midships near the main lifts so you are centrally to most things. Take your time to get about, no need to rush anywhere and have a great time.

Thank you all very much for your replies - some very useful information and tips and there's plenty for me to research. Best wishes to you all, James :)

Hi James,

I have no advice to offer re cruises, just ferries. lol Really, what I was wondering, do you have any room in your suitcase for me, or some other way of smuggling me aboard? lol

Hope it works out for you, and you go somewhere nice. I would love to go to Norway or Alaska!

hugs from Huggs xx :)

Of course Huggs fold yourself into a carrier bag and I'll pop you in the suitcase no problem. So many choices but obviously limited by what you can or can't afford. The fjords nice and Alaska too. I heard it's eerrily silent but breathtakingly beautiful. River cruises look good too. xx :)

Hi James,

Okay, you have a deal!! I could do some research to pass on to Cal Mac!!

You know, a lot of the fun must be in deciding where and when to go. I think my own personal choice would be the fjords, or Alaska, as I have always felt drawn to them for some reason. Wherever you decide to go, have a great time. I suppose there is a lot to think about if you haven't been on one before, even without health issues. You came to the right place for advice though, and have got a lot of good tips. There are so many cruise companies now, so I reckon the medical facilities must be priority, and looking at reviews etc. Have fun deciding, and even more when you go.

hugs from Huggs :) xx

Hi everyone, I'm new on here,

I have Lupus which has damaged my lungs so I also have Pulmonary Fibrosis. I can no longer fly because of the pressure in the cabin of the plane.

To be able to go abroad I now go on cruises and I use ambulatory oxygen which I have to pay for from a separate company who delivers the oxygen to my cabin on the ship. I have to fill out a form regarding the oxygen once I pay for my cruise, also some cruise liners will store the oxygen for you and you just ring and ask for it when ever you need a new cylinder. You can however take the one you are using on board.

I try to book early so I have a cabin with a balcony an near the lift. There is always someone from the crew willing to help if you ask, including the food you like to eat and how you like it cooked.

Remember to always ask for help no matter how small

Thank you Maureen - some good tips there. Welcome to the forum. There are many good folk on here who are very supportive. Best wishes, James :)

I hate to tell you this but we went on a month cruise to the Caribbean last February in all those storms and we were subjected to constant air conditioning due to adverse weather as we were unable to access fresh air as often as we would have done in calm weather. Many passengers came down with nasty respiratory viruses from the Air Con and recovered within a week, but with my COPD I was seriously affected. I am still recovering 11 months later. I picked up two types of virus that reside in the damaged lung tissue Coliform and moraxelle Haemophilus. I avoided flying for fear of the air con and pressure cabin and now I doubt I will chance another Cruise. We were with a medium size P&O Ship 2,000 passengers plus crew. Facilities were excellent but like all controlled environments you take a risk. I wish you well and hope you enjoy your holiday. We ere unable to turn off the air con but if you can please make sure you do.

Ta - things you don't think of and it's put me right off lol! I'm only looking into it at the moment so all the replies are great!! :) James

I know someone who goes on a cruise every year for about 6 weeks she buys all these long evening gowns and takes all these hats in boxes the porters earn the money when she rocks up. Her voice changes the minuet her foot hits the ship deck but I remember her saying she was ill on board this ship and the Doctor came to her room and she had room service for a few days.

She goes with quenard { not sure of the spelling } and like Huggs I have no experience of ships only ferries but I hope you have a good time

Thanks - and sounds like she loves it! You have to take chances otherwise you wouldn't do anything!! ! :) James

I believe in trying anything once

How much trouble did you have getting insurance for the cruise? He does have quite a few medical issues. I can't get insurance for less than £900 pound! What with this and over £500 for oxygen. Makes the cruise very expensive.

Sorry missed a line out on my post! ( should have said that my husband has quite a few medical issues and that I am finding it very hard to get insurance for him for a Baltic cruise)

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