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Cruises and vaccinations: What you need to know

While no one wants anything unpleasant or unexpected to happen whilst they're away it's always a good precaution to take out cruise travel insurance to ensure that you're covered for the whole of your stay and are protected in the event of needing medical treatment when travelling - but getting comprehensive cover is just the start of the precautions you need to consider taking before your trip. Visiting unfamiliar places, let alone a number of different ports, can often leave you vulnerable to contracting an infection. Although transmission is relatively rare on cruises, its best to know the correct precautions to take to help you prevent this - so let's talk about the vaccinations you may need before you can jet off on your luxurious cruise holiday!

What vaccinations do I need for a cruise holiday?

You should only need to update vaccinations if you're spending considerable time on shore. Vaccinations differ from country to country so you should take a full trip itinerary to the doctors with you. Possible vaccinations you may need include rabies, hepatitis A and hepatitis B, typhoid, tetanus and, in some cases, the yellow fever vaccination. Some countries may require proof of your vaccination (with a certificate) either before entering or leaving the country.

If you're elderly or have a pre-existing medical condition such as diabetes you may need to get a flu vaccine, as being in such close quarters with thousands of other people can help to spread the virus. Several travel vaccines are available free of charge on the NHS but you may have to pay for others, including the yellow fever vaccine.

It's important to remember that not all vaccinations will apply to everyone; some vaccinations may be selectively advised for only those individuals at a high risk of contracting the disease. Above all, always consult with your GP for their advice and medical opinion before you set sail you.

Please check out our helpful guides below to learn more information about the individual travel vaccinations that may be required before your cruise:

How long before I travel do I need vaccinations?

You should see your doctor at least 8 weeks before you travel so that you have enough time to get vaccinated. You may need more than one dose of a particular vaccine and it could take as long as 10 days for a vaccination to start giving you full protection. It's also important to speak with your GP about getting the right vaccinations if you have a pre-existing medical condition because this may make you more at risk of infection or complications from a travel-related illness.

Do I need vaccinations for a South Pacific cruise?

You will likely be advised to have diphtheria, tetanus and hepatitis vaccinations before travelling to the South Pacific. An influenza vaccine may come in handy too but ask your doctor's advice for the best vaccinations before you travel.

  • Top tip - For a bit of extra comfort take some insect repellant along with you!

Will I need vaccinations for a Caribbean cruise?

It's recommended that all travellers have up-to-date routine vaccinations (that are recommended in the UK) including the diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine before travelling to the Caribbean Islands, this includes holiday makers travelling to the beautiful island of Barbados. Depending on what part of the Caribbean you're travelling to you may also be recommended to have hepatitis B and rabies vaccinations, so make sure you check with your physician if this applies to you.

Can you contract malaria in the Caribbean?

Most countries in the Caribbean are at low-risk of malaria throughout the year according to the NHS fit for travel website, which means anti-malarial tablets aren't usually advised. It's important to understand that the risk of malaria can vary between and within countries though, and can depend on the time of year your cruise is taking place too. Your doctor will establish whether you need to take anti-malarial medication before your trip, depending on certain risks being taken into consideration. This includes people with higher risk factors for contracting the disease, like immunosuppression.

Taking the right precautions to prevent contracting Malaria is essential. Essential tools that are recommended include taking insect repellant with you on your trip and applying it to exposed skin to put off the mosquitos that could carry the infection. Covering your arms and legs is also an important precaution, especially after sunset and, when necessary, sleeping under a mosquito net can also be a great deterrent.

It's important to be aware of the symptoms of malaria if you're cruise is travelling to areas that are at risk of contracting the disease so it can be spotted quickly - these symptoms can include high temperature and sickness.

If you need further information then please check out the NHS travel vaccinations website for more details on vaccinations you will need before your holiday.

Nervous about the injection?

Don't worry - you're not alone! Many people get anxious about injections and there are several coping strategies available that may help you. Speak to your GP today and let them, or the person who is giving you the vaccine, know your concerns so they can offer you advice. Above all, remember that vaccinations are there to help protect you against serious diseases and once you've got them out of the way you can safely venture forth on your next exciting adventure.

Finding the right travel insurance will also help ensure you have a peaceful time at sea and is essential in order to cover costs like missed port departures, unexpected itinerary changes and unused prepaid shore activities. At Holiday Extras we provide comprehensive cover for your trip at a competitive price. We've been awarded "Best Travel Insurance Provider" for 15 years in a row at Globe Travel Awards.

We have 3 levels of cruise cover available for you and our Bronze, Silver and Gold Cruise policies start from just *. We have a maximum age limit of 85 years old on our single-trip and multi-trip policies, including customers with pre-existing medical conditions. If you are looking for an annual policy we could also insure you with our Silver or Gold cover.

Holiday Extras reviews

"With Holiday Extra's dedicated Cruise insurance policy, our customers are able to be totally confident that they have high-quality insurance cover in place specifically designed for a cruise holiday at sea"

Jeremy Hatton | Head of Customer Services | Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

"Holiday Extras offer our guests cruise specific policies that give them peace of mind and confidence when booking their cruise"

Clive Jones | Senior Director | Guest Services | Prestige Cruise Holdings (Regent Seven Seas Cruises & Oceania Cruises)

Useful links for cruise travellers

If you found the insights into vaccinations for cruising useful, then please visit our other helpful guides for anyone that's new to cruising or for the more experienced cruisers too.

Holiday Extras Travel Insurance is sold and administered by Holiday Extras Cover Limited, registered office address: Ashford Road, Newingreen, Hythe, Kent CT21 4JF.

Holiday Extras Cover Limited is an insurance intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, registration number 828848. You can check this by visiting the Financial Services Register

Holiday Extras™ is a Trading Name of Holiday Extras Cover Limited. The insurance is underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance UK Limited. Great Lakes Insurance UK Limited is a company incorporated in England and Wales with company number 13436330 and whose registered office address is 10 Fenchurch Avenue, London, United Kingdom, EC3M 5BN.

Great Lakes Insurance UK Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 955859. You can check this by visiting the Financial Services Register