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Oxygen Onboard? Clearing the Air about Cruising with Oxygen

As a supplier of oxygen and other special needs equipment for travelers, I see first hand the uncertainty and confusion regarding traveling with oxygen, especially the rules and regulations for dealing with cylinders or other forms of portable oxygen on a cruise.

Like everything in life, cruising with oxygen is simple, once you know the guidelines. After almost a decade of working with cruise ships and accessibility, here’s what I’ve learned that can ensure smooth sailing for anyone traveling with oxygen.

All cruise lines welcome oxygen onboard. However, each line has specific guidelines or requirements for guests to follow.

Princess Cruises requires a prescription, or note from your doctor with a diagnosis of your breathing problem and the prescribed dosage and flow rate. You are required to have this at least 30 days prior to sailing. Some lines also require, or suggest, that you have a release form from your doctor. We think it is a good idea for anyone traveling to have medical clearance.

Complying with paperwork and meeting specification can take time, so it is always a good idea to begin planning early and to contact the medical or access/special needs department of your cruise line at least three to four weeks before your sailing date.

It is important that you have enough oxygen for the entire voyage. To help you calculate, assume you will spend 10 to 12 hours per day out of your cabin; that’s the average based on statistics and feedback from our customers. You do not want to end up confined to your stateroom because you do not have enough portable oxygen.

Keep in mind, you will not be able to “pack” your equipment in, or with, your luggage. Cruise line policy states that you are permitted to bring your own equipment with you. However, you must bring it onboard yourself. They will not be held responsible for any missing equipment or for damages. In fact, you could be held liable if anyone were to get injured by it. So, don’t try to sneak it on in your luggage.

Why worry about the possibility that your equipment won’t make it in one piece? Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea delivers directly to cruise ships at ports around the world and works closely with almost every major cruise line. We can handle all the details for you. The oxygen will be delivered in accordance with the line’s requirements, and you can then carry the oxygen with you as you navigate the ship.

Importantly, learn everything you need to know about your portable equipment before you leave on your trip. The middle of the ocean is not the place to start figuring out how things operate.

In working with and talking to the major cruise lines, the only universal restriction they have for passengers using oxygen on board ships is to avoid smoking and stay away from any areas where others are smoking. There may also be limitations on taking certain quantities of oxygen on certain shore excursions. This is best confirmed and handled with your cruise line when you book.

So start planning, and get packing to enjoy your cruise.


November 5, 2009



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