Expect a Smooth Cruise While You're Expecting
Ooh, a daily massage in the spa and all-you-can-eat ice cream sounds amazing ... but being out in the open sea if something goes wrong definitely doesn't. Yes, you can take a cruise while you're pregnant, and it could prove to be one of your most relaxing vacations yet. But this adventure isn't right for every mama-to-be, and it's a no-go once you reach your third trimester.
Do Cruise Lines Accept Pregnant Passengers?
Yup, but only up to a point. Every cruise line makes its own policies about this, but the major lines set the cutoff point at 24 weeks. If you're 24 weeks pregnant at the start of the cruise, or will reach that marker during the voyage, you won't be allowed to board. That's because of safety reasons. Cruise lines aren't set up to handle labor and delivery, and they don't want to be held responsible if any complications arise while you're on the ship.
Wondering if you could sneak on a cruise in your 25th week? Probably not. Your cruise line may require you to provide a doctor's note, stating how far along you are. In fact, Carnival requires each pregnant passenger to submit a form, completed by her doctor, at least 14 days before her sailing date. Again, every line is different, so contact yours to ask what documentation it requires.
What Will My Doctor Say?
Even if your cruise line doesn't require you to submit a doctor's note in advance, you should ask her to write a letter stating that you'll be X weeks pregnant at the sailing date, and that you're having a healthy and normal pregnancy. Carry it with you when you board the ship, just in case you're asked for it.
If that's not the case—if you're having any complications or have heightened risks of complications—your doctor may not approve of your travel plans. And although your cruise line may not find that out if it doesn't require a doctor's note, it's not worth the risk. A ship's infirmary is not outfitted with the specialized diagnostic equipment or medications that you might need if a problem occurs, and the ship's medical staff isn't trained to care for you in the way that you and your baby might require.
Will Cruising Be Comfortable?
It depends. Some pregnant women find that the motion of the ship intensifies nausea and morning sickness, and makes the entire experience unpleasant. If you find that you feel nauseous in a moving vehicle while pregnant, taking a cruise may be uncomfortable.
Other aspects of the vacation may be ideal, though. If you're traveling with young kids, most ships have baby-sitting services that allow you to have some stress-free relaxation time. You'll have constant access to food and drinks, and you won't have to go far to find them. Plus, you're never more than a few minutes away from your state room, should you need a quick nap.
What Else Should I Know?
Motion sickness can derail your cruise enjoyment in a hurry. Bring ginger candy and motion sickness bands—remedies that don't pose any risk to you or your baby. You may also want to talk to your doctor about whether any motion sickness medications might be safe for you to try.
You may be extra sensitive to the sun while pregnant, and there's plenty of it on a cruise. Bring sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and reapply it often. Wear a sunhat with a wide brim and stick to the shade whenever possible.
If your itinerary involves stops in foreign ports, check your health insurance policies about international coverage, just in case you find yourself needing treatment during an excursion day.