Many big life events can happen between the date you book a cruise and when you step on the ship to set sail. One of those happy events can be a pregnancy. If you discover you’re pregnant after you booked your reservation, or perhaps you just like to plan ahead, you’ll likely wonder “can you go on a cruise pregnant?” The answer is generally yes, provided you have doctor approval, and you are not too far along in your pregnancy.
You can go on a cruise pregnant. However, women after 24 weeks are not allowed on cruise ships. And you should be aware that those pregnancy rules are actually enforced. Keep reading to learn more about cruising while pregnant!
Why Cruising While Pregnant Differs From Other Pregnancy Travel
Not surprisingly, pregnant women travel all the time. According to the experts, the best time to travel is during the second trimester, which is from 14 to 28 weeks. During this time, women usually feel their best and have the lowest risk for any complications. But, during your third trimester (25 to 40 weeks), healthcare professionals advise staying within 300 miles of home just in case there are any problems.
Because of these concerns for the third trimester, the travel industry has adopted some precautionary rules. For instance, most airlines won’t let women fly after 36 weeks for domestic travel and after 28 to 35 weeks for international travel.
The cruise industry has adopted even more strict practices. According to the CDC, cruise lines generally will not allow pregnant women to travel after 24–28 weeks of pregnancy and may require a note from a doctor approving the travel.
Notably, the most popular cruise lines draw the line at 24 weeks. See below for more details.
Is It Safe To Go On A Cruise Pregnant?
Like many moms-to-be, you may dream of going on vacation to far-off lands or exotic beaches.
If a cruise is your vacation of choice, you may be wondering if it is safe to go on a cruise pregnant? In general, it is relatively safe to go on a cruise pregnant. However, there are always exceptions to the rule. Every pregnancy is different, so the best way to find out if it is safe for you to go on a cruise is to visit your OB/GYN.
If you are experiencing pregnancy complications, your doctor may advise against going on a cruise. If this is the case, going on a cruise against your doctor’s recommendation can be potentially dangerous for you and your baby. When thinking about safety, it is also essential to consider the destination. Not all destinations are suitable for pregnant women.
And no, this isn’t a reference to rocky terrains or dangerous landscapes (although they are not ideal for pregnant women either). Rather, some destinations harbor communicable diseases such as Zika or malaria. Women who are pregnant can experience malaria more severely than non-pregnant women.
If malaria is contracted, pregnant women may experience pregnancy complications such as miscarriage, premature birth, and stillbirth. For those thinking a vaccine will put you in the all-clear, this is not always the case. Some doctors may advise against taking vaccines while pregnant. Of course, this is dependent on many factors, such as the type of vaccine.
Also, depending on your itinerary, not all of the locales that you visit will necessarily have appropriate medical care in case you run into problems.
Cruise Line Policies on Pregnancy
Although it may generally be safe to cruise while pregnant, the cruise lines have restrictions on which pregnant travelers can board, as well as other documentation requirements.
How Many Weeks Pregnant Can You Go On A Cruise?
While it is largely safe for pregnant women to go on a cruise ship, that’s not the end of the inquiry. You need to ask another important question; is there a cut-off date for pregnant women? Meaning, how many weeks pregnant can you go on a cruise?
If you’re planning to travel on one of the popular major cruise lines, the cut-off point is 24 weeks. Not plus/minus 24 weeks, but 24 weeks on the dot.
Royal Caribbean Pregnancy Policy
The Royal Caribbean pregnancy policy provides a great example of what’s standard practice in the United States, and its policy provides detailed cautions for both pregnant women and their physicians. The highlights:
- Royal Caribbean will not accept guests who will be more than 23 weeks pregnant at any time during the cruise vacation.
- There is no Obstetrician/Gynecologist available on the ship, and “pregnancies, when unstable and poorly controlled, are potentially life-threatening.”
- Guests may be at sea for several days without access to any hospitals or specialist care.
- In ports outside the U.S., the availability of specialized care “can be problematic.”
Carnival Cruise Pregnancy Policy
The Carnival Cruise pregnancy policy provides similar stern warnings. Specifically:
- Prenatal and early infant care “may require specialized diagnostic facilities and/or treatment that are not obtainable during the cruise on board the ship and/or ashore in ports of call.”
- Due to limitations of medical care, both on board and in various ports of call, women who have entered or exceeded their 24th week of pregnancy at any time during the cruise will not be allowed to board or sail with the ship.
- Any pregnant woman who tries to board a Carnival ship, who has or will exceed 24 weeks “at any time during the cruise, risks denial of boarding and/or disembarkation without compensation or refund.”
Additional Cruise Line Requirements
You may be wondering how would cruise lines know how many weeks pregnant you are? Well, cruise lines require a letter from your doctor before boarding. If you are before 24 weeks, cruise liners require letters stating that you are not at risk for pregnancy complications and that you and your baby are healthy and fit to travel.
The letter also has to calculate your due date (as calculated from your last menstrual period and ultrasound. Additionally, some cruise lines require a second confirmation no more than two weeks before departure. However, you should always check with your cruise line about the specific rules and regulations that pertain to pregnant women.
What Happens If Someone Gives Birth On A Cruise Ship?
Pregnancy is not always smooth sailing (excuse the pun). You can get caught up in unexpected twists and turns. Premature labor is one such unexpected but not impossible turn. During a cruise, this might result in you giving birth on the ship. The doctor will inform the captain, who will then decide which course of action to take.
The captain may change course or land at the nearest port. If you or the baby are unwell, the captain may decide to enlist an air evacuation. So what happens to the baby’s citizenship? If both parents are U.S. citizens, the baby will automatically be given the parent’s citizenship. However, the baby may also be eligible for dual citizenship, depending on the country.
If the baby was born while the ship was more than three nautical miles off of the coast (international waters), you might be able to apply for the country where the ship is registered. If your ship is docked in a foreign country during delivery, you may apply for citizenship for your baby there.
Can You Go On A Cruise Pregnant And Participate In Most Activities?
Just because you are pregnant does not mean you have to miss out on fun activities while pregnant. There are many available activities/ pass times that pregnant women can do on a cruise. For instance, you can spend some relaxing time in the spa by treating yourself to a much-needed massage or relaxing facial.
Or you can watch one of the cruise’s outstanding live-entertainment shows, such as a sing-a-long musical or play. Even better, you can take a dip in the pool or relax on the poolside chairs. There is no shortage of things pregnant women can do on a cruise. Make sure you check your cruise liner’s itinerary for information regarding its activities
Do I Have To Tell The Cruise Line I Am Pregnant?
As a general rule, cruise lines require that you inform them of your pregnancy and include a letter from your physician verifying that you are fit to travel as well as your estimated due date. However, if there is no pregnancy bump and you are still in the early stages, the cruise liner is unlikely to ask. If you are within the early stages of pregnancy, it is still advisable to consult with your doctor before traveling.
What Food Can I Eat On A Cruise Ship When Pregnant?
There are many things pregnant women can eat. However, it is best to outline what pregnant women should avoid rather than what they can eat.
Pregnant women should avoid high mercury fish, undercooked or raw fish and meats, processed meats, raw or undercooked eggs, raw sprouts, unwashed produce, and unpasteurized milk, cheese, and fruit juice.
What Shore Excursions Can I Go On?
For pregnant women, shore excursions that do not require athleticism or strain the body are generally safe. So consider booking a sight-seeing bus tour, visiting the local museum or attractions, spending a day at the beach, or a local cuisine cooking class.
Do not book the excursion if it says it’s not recommended for pregnant women. Even so, it is recommended to check with your physician what excursions are safe for you as they would know your pregnancy condition best.
What Is The Best Itinerary For A Pregnant Woman?
As each cruise line has different activities and entertainment facilities, it is challenging to determine the best itinerary for pregnant women. A general guideline is to choose an itinerary that has activities that are safe and friendly for pregnant women. Pregnant women should follow the same safety rules on board as they would on land.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to go on a cruise while pregnant?
Pregnant travelers can generally travel safely with appropriate preparation, and this includes cruise travel. Experts advise avoiding destinations where viruses such as malaria are more frequent. You should confirm that a doctor or nurse will be on the ship, and that you visit ports with modern medical facilities in case medical attention is needed.
Can you go on a cruise 6 months pregnant?
The rules for pregnant cruise travelers measure in weeks, not in months, and draw the line at 24 weeks. “Six months” could be between 23 and 25 weeks. You will need to provide documentation from a physician that states the progress of your pregnancy in gestational weeks.
Why Can’t Women Cruise After The 2nd Trimester?
A woman who is in her 24th week of pregnancy or more is at a higher risk of having preterm contractions. The medical care provided on board cruise liners is limited; as a result, they are not fully equipped to deal with labor/birth and any complications that may take place.
As long as you are less than 24 weeks pregnant during your entire time on the ship, and have your doctor’s blessing, you can indeed go on a cruise pregnant. Just be sure to plan ahead for excursions and activities that make sense for you!