Cruise ship medical tourism – fact or fiction?

In the book, Bob Smith believes that the only affordable solution to save his dying son is a medical tourism cruise on the Salvare. As it is in international waters, the Salvare falls outside any national or international regulation or licensing of health care providers. It is an unlicensed hospital ship providing treatment to anyone with money. The Salvare cruises off New Jersey. It is a 120,000-ton ocean liner with private staterooms for every patient, chef prepared meals and nightly entertainment. Fully staffed by doctors and nurses, although with dubious medical credentials, it is a fully functioning hospital and recovery centre, even offering open-heart surgery and chemotherapy

The plot of “Universal Coverage” is of little interest to us. But the cruise ship medical tourism concept is similar to an American proposal that due to lack of funding has yet to make progress. Cruise ship owners want real money to turn normal cruise ships into hospital ships, in advance, not just promises of payment. With healthcare reform a hot news item in the US, few investors are willing to consider investment at this stage.

Cruise ship medical tourism may offer potential for investors, but also raises concerns for patients. A medical facility in international waters is unregulated; it could employ unqualified or struck off doctors, use new untested techniques, buy organs from the poor and charge whatever it liked, with no possibility of unhappy customers being able to do anything about it.

But… ship medical tourism offers real possibilities for the ethical medical tourism businesses.

Several new cruise ships have state of the art spas offering treatment that extends to medical spas offering facial aesthetic treatments. Holidays spent entirely on a cruise ship are becoming increasingly popular and appealing. The competition is fierce among the cruise line operators .The single most important objective for many guests on board is to relax, calm themselves and get rid of stress. Adding spa facilities and treatments makes perfect sense.

Samsara Spa is featured on all the latest Costa Cruises ships, including the Costa Luminosa, Costa Pacifica, Costa Serena and Costa Concordia. The spa will also be featured on the Costa Deliziosa (January 2010), the Costa Favolosa (Summer 2011) and Costa Fascinosa (Spring 2012).

Extending over two decks and boasting panoramic views of the ocean, the 23,000 square-foot Samsara Spa offers travelers the ultimate wellness experience at sea. Spa amenities include a thalassotherapy bath, a rock sauna (a hotter version of classic saunas) and a Turkish bath (either traditional or scented with gently-fragrant rosemary, eucalyptus and lavender) a warm thermal bath called a tepidarium, a solarium, and tearoom. VIP treatment suites are also available. A fitness center and wide variety of wellness classes complete the spa’s facilities. Exclusive spa cabins and suites (average 100 per ship) provide an extension of the experience at all times with direct access to the spa via elevator and stairs. In 2008, 1.2 million guests chose to cruise with Costa.