Vacation Cruise Can Soothe Cancer Patient, Caregiver

Happy older couple on cruise deck

Hello again! It’s been a while. I’m back on dry land in Australia and blogging after a more than two-week vacation sailing on a cruise ship around Asia.

There were more than 2,000 passengers on board, mostly between the ages of 60 and 90. Understandably, a good portion of them had their share of age-related health problems or serious illnesses, including cancer. While some relied on mobility aids like wheelchairs and canes, many were accompanied by loved ones who doubled as travel partners and caregivers.

While sailing on a cruise ship doesn’t miraculously eradicate a patient’s symptoms or lessen the responsibility of a traveling caregiver, it serves as a respite from the daily repetitive routines of both individuals with the added bonuses of relaxation, entertainment, sharing new experiences and social interaction with strangers.

Cruising When You Have a Serious Illness

While the relaxation and sights are great, it doesn’t mean accidents don’t happen. It’s advisable for anyone who is traveling to take out travel insurance, and it’s vital if you are seriously ill.

Arranging travel insurance when seriously ill is not an easy exercise. The majority of travel agencies – if not all of them – request to know if there are any pre-existing health conditions and will not provide coverage for people who are suffering from life-limiting diseases like mesothelioma and other forms of cancer.

It is not advised to take out travel insurance without disclosing the true state of your health because in the event of needing to make a claim, the company will become aware of the pre-existing condition and may refuse to cover the full costs. Worse still, they may refuse to cover any costs.

Understandably, medical costs can be extremely high, especially if the patient requires air travel from the ship to a hospital, or if the ship must divert to another port.

Thankfully, there are travel insurance companies who will cover pre-existing conditions and these can be sourced through the Internet.

Here are some I found:

Access to an on board doctor and medical team also is a great benefit.

The patient can confide in a physician in case of a medical emergency, and the caregiver can let go of some of their anxiety. It allows the caregiver some time to spend socializing with other passengers while their loved one securely rests in their cabin.

Travel Made Easy

Besides planning on travel insurance, another thing to plan when taking a vacation, especially when it involves a person dealing with a serious, incapacitating illness, is how you and they are going to get around from place to place.

Vacations often entail taking taxis, trains, short plane rides and other forms of travel that could become troublesome for a person suffering from an illness, as well as for their caregiver.

The wonderful thing about taking a cruise is that once aboard the ship, you avoid that hassle, and that takes a great deal of stress off caregiver and patient. You likely will face that travel dilemma if you decide to disembark at each port of call, but cruise ships these days pack so much entertainment that some travelers spend more time on board than on land.

Cruise Ship Entertainment Is All Around You

Entertaining people is a cruise liner’s specialty. No matter which cruise you choose, you’ll find there are ample opportunities to find something that appeals to you and your capabilities.

Daytime activities can include: Cooking demonstrations, lectures on interesting topics, morning and afternoon trivia sessions, bingo and ball room dancing lessons. If you’re the more energetic type, there is deck shuttle board, as well as a variety of activities around the swimming pool.

On my particular ship, they projected a movie throughout the day and evening on a very large screen raised near the swimming pool. Casual dining was available at all times on the deck and many passengers enjoyed a meal while watching a movie.

Evening activities on most ships include live entertainment in one of the ship’s theaters and live bands performing in various bars and open areas.

Enjoying Rest and Relaxation on the High Seas

Cruising, no matter the destination or duration, is an amazing experience and one which affords a unique opportunity for every passenger on board to truly find rest and relaxation.

The only decisions passengers have to make each day: Choose what to eat, which venue to enjoy their meal, and type of entertainment.

Cruise ships are ingeniously designed to provide everything a passenger could possibly need in one place without worrying about a thing. If a dose of fresh air and sunshine is what you’re seeking, cruise ships have rows and rows of deck chairs. If you’re looking for some evening activity, enjoy a bit of moonlight and stargazing on a deck chair.

Passengers can select a day full of activity or a quiet rest spent with a good book. Most ships are equipped with a well-stocked library, and there are ample places on board where passengers can enjoy reading. On my cruise, I observed many people enjoying a good read in little nooks. These areas also were popular for those who wished to play a quiet game of cards.

A Brief Break from Cooking and Cleaning

Imagine what it is like not cooking or washing dishes for the entirety of your vacation. I can tell you, it is absolutely wonderful and when it comes to food on cruise ships, it is abounding. A warning: It’s not a good idea to travel on a cruise with any thought of a diet in mind!

Formal or casual dining is available, and both offer a wide choice of cuisine. Most ships have several dining areas. Room service also is available for those times when you feel like enjoying a relaxing meal in your cabin.

Three main meals aside, food is available 24/7 on a cruise ship and passengers can enjoy a snack whenever they wish. On my cruise, there was a café that provided delightfully naughty things like cheesecakes, chocolate mousse, and a host of equally tempting treats that needed to be tasted to be believed.

Understandably the coffee shop was very popular with most passengers and a great place to mingle with fellow travelers over a cup of coffee. At times, it was impossible to find a vacant seat.

Patients and Their Caregivers Having Fun Together

Every day, I observed loving couples —patients and their care givers — participating in activities aboard the ship, and enjoying the opportunity to have fun together.

It was wonderful to see smiles on the faces of those who perhaps haven’t found many reasons to smile.

Remember that this is a vacation. Let go of some of your worries and enjoy this special time together.

Happy Cruising


Lorraine Kember is the author of "Lean on Me," an inspirational personal account of her husband's courageous battle with mesothelioma. She is an accomplished public speaker in Australia and is passionate about sharing her journey with cancer. Her website can be found at www.lean-on-me.net

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