Going on a Cruise with Oxygen Therapy

Visiting far-flung tropical islands or seeing the wonders of Alaska firsthand might sound like an impossible dream cruise if you use an oxygen concentrator, but it doesn’t have to be.

Advancements in medical technology — and a full catalog of FAA approved oxygen concentrators — make traveling easier than ever. However, there are a few things you have to keep in mind before your book that ideal cruise.

  • Check the Cruise Line’s Oxygen Policy
    Most cruise lines are happy to serve patients who use oxygen concentrators, but it’s best to check with your specific company before confirming your itinerary because cruise lines policies on oxygen may change.

    It’s important to note that you’ll need to bring your own oxygen concentrator on a cruise because they won’t be available for rent once you board. It’s also important to notify your cruise line’s special needs department at least a month before you leave to let them know you’re bringing oxygen. They’ll be able to give you any extra instructions you need to have an enjoyable cruise.

  • Get Approval From Your Doctor
    Make an appointment with your doctor before your cruise to discuss your oxygen needs and what kind of oxygen concentrator you’ll need on the trip — continuous flow or pulse-dose. Also, be sure to bring any special forms you need signed.

  • Arrive Earlier Than You Planned (and If Possible Bring a Travel Companion)
    Getting through security at airports and seaports can take a long time no matter how prepared you are, so arrive extra early to ensure you can get on board with your oxygen concentrator and associated gear.

    Also, it’s best to travel with a trusted spouse, relative or friend who knows how to work your oxygen concentrator in case of problems (and they’ll likely be more than willing to take up the task!).

  • Take Full Advantage of Available Electrical Outlets
    Plug your portable oxygen unit into wall electrical outlets whenever possible. By doing this it helps conserve battery power, something you’ll need plenty of as you explore the ship and ports of call on your cruise.

  • Plan Ahead for Excursions
    An off-ship excursion might be listed as an “easy” or “intermediate” jaunt, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy for you. Ask for the full details of the excursion, like how much walking or climbing it involves, before confirming your spot.

    Also, be sure that the battery on your oxygen concentrator is 100 percent charged, especially if your cruise involves stops in foreign countries. Most foreign countries use different power configurations and you won’t be able to plug in even if you have a moment to rest.

  • Keep Tabs on Your Oxygen Levels
    Your oxygen levels can vary greatly depending on your altitude and activity levels on a cruise, so keep a pulse oximeter on hand so you can check your levels while aboard the skip. And be sure to take plenty of breaks! Cruises are amazing experiences, but not worth risking your health for, so don’t hesitate to sit back, relax and enjoy the view instead of taking on every off-ship excursion. You’ll make amazing memories — and see amazing views — no matter what!

Tips for Traveling on a Cruise with an Oxygen Concentrator Video

Updated: April 10, 2023

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