Taking a cruise with Crohn's

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New Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 3/6/2008 1:50 AM (GMT -7)   
I was diagnosed with Chron's a little more than a year ago. I spent five days in the hospital with a flare-up. Recently, I've had some more difficulty - I was feeling ill and my doctor had me do a barium x-ray, which showed a couple of new moderate to severe strictures. He put me on entocort and a restricted diet and I've been feeling better, except for regularly feeling like I have a lot of gas in my stomach at night.
My family is taking a cruise to Mexico for a week and I really want to go with them - my father is even paying for most of it because he wants to get all of the family together again since we've been spread out all over the country for a good eight years now. But I'm terrified! What if I get a flare-up on the boat? I've checked the cruise web site and it says they have a medical center with registered doctors and nurses, but I'm still scared. Any ideas?
Thanks a lot! 

Elite Member

Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 10404
   Posted 3/6/2008 2:44 AM (GMT -7)   
Welcome, hmd. It's good to meet you.

Have you found out what the facilities are like on the boat? Will you have your own private bathroom, or will it be shared with a number of other guests? Will the kitchens be able to cater for your special diet (if you have one), or are you going to be forced to eat foods that upset your system? I ask these questions because your anxiety might be alleviated a little by finding out what facilities will be available if (*if*) you do start having difficult symptoms on the ship.

It might also be worthwhile discussing your concerns with your doctors and deciding on what strategies to take if you do start flaring onboard. It might be a simple matter of altering your medication for the week you're on the boat, and then getting to medical help asap once you land.

We do have some well-travelled people on this site, and some sailors, and I hope they'll be along soon to give you some more knowledgeable tips than mine. Until then, welcome to you, and I hope you do get to go on - and enjoy! - that cruise.

Co-Moderator Crohn's Forum.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 3042
   Posted 3/6/2008 3:19 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Welcome to HW,
I agree totally with Ivy, Be carful what you eat on the cruise. When in Mexico don't eat any food from street venders and bring bottle water from the cruise ship.
Hi, I am teddybearweiser, I am a male.
I was diagnosed with crohns disease when i was admitted to the hospital
in 1992, in Jan of 1993 I was back in the hospital for surgery for my crohns. I had part of my right colon resectioned with ilecolonstomy.
 My GI doctor has me on Asacol, Dicyclomine,Imuran,Celebrex and Remicade. B-12 injection once a month.
My Internest doctor has me on Lisnopril-HTCZ and Folic Acid. Diagnosed
with Osteoarthritis July 2007

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 14995
   Posted 3/6/2008 7:23 AM (GMT -7)   
I just returned from a trip to Mexico, but it wasn't on a cruise. I think you will be fine because they have a complete medical staff on board. I always take all my medications with me, even my emergency ones. Teddy is right on one thing do not eat from street vendors, but you CAN drink the bottled water in Mexico. I drink Ciel or Bonavit, they are both fine. Just make sure that you check that the bottle still has its seal. Go on your trip and enjoy yourself, I am confident all will be well.
Been living with Crohn's Disease for 32 years.  Currently on Asacol, Prilosec 60 mg, Estrace, Prinivil, Diltiazem, Percoset prn for pain and Calcium.  Resections in 2002 and 2005.  Recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and doing tests to see if I have Inflammatory Arthritis or AS.

New Member

Date Joined Jan 2008
Total Posts : 17
   Posted 3/6/2008 7:56 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi! I just want to share my cruising experiences with you. I have had Crohn's disease for about 18 years. I have also worked on cruise ships (both large ones with a full medical staff and small ones with no staff) since 1996. If I had active crohns and recent flare ups, my concern would be more that of how often you are in port, how many days do you go without docking, etc. It is comforting to have a medical staff and facility on board but they are limited in what they do and what they are used to dealing with. I only have had one excessive flare up and massive bleeding on board. Luckily, we were docked for the day and I went to the hospital for a week. That is an extreme example. My guess is that you are always within extra help, if anything was to happen. If you are worried about being sick, be really careful about what you eat, drink lots of peppermint tea and relax. There is nothing like being at sea to clear your mind, reflect on your health, and relax with your family. And be sure to take advantage of all the cool things in Mexico.

Hope this was helpful. I am a non-traditional "chronnie" and worry that I don't worry enough. Then again, I believe that was my downfall in the first place (chronic worrying).

Take care and have fun! yeah eyes

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 3141
   Posted 3/6/2008 10:23 AM (GMT -7)   


I took a cruise for my honeymoon several years ago.  I had no issues on the ship except for seasickness (I highly recommend Bonine for this as the patches and other stuff my Cd friend takes made him more sick).  I did eat carefully... but there were so many choices on ship that I could always find something I could eat.  The buffets have lots of bread and other things that were my safe foods.

In port, I just ordered bottled drinks and NO ICE.  Ice is not always made from purified water in the small countries we visited.  Mostly, I only ate on board the ship


I hope you can relax and enjoy the cruise!

Dx'd '90 (emergency rupture), symptoms ignored long before that, '03 fistulas and bad flagyl reactions, B12 weekly, Pentasa [until I surrender to the bigger meds]
I'm riding on the escalator of life....

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 493
   Posted 3/6/2008 10:27 AM (GMT -7)   
I was on a cruise a few years ago while having pretty active crohn's and did absolutely fine. I was stupidly worried about jamming the toilet! Ha! When we were in Cozumel for a day, I did not eat or drink the local food. On board, the food is included so I picked and chose. For the sit down meals, I sent a lot of things back as it's pretty much like being at wedding where it's all already made instead of made-to-order. But I could always find something later at a buffet or other place open. It wasn't really a worry.

With all the options cruise ships have for eating these days, you'll probably be able to find choices. Go to the cruise website or ask your travel agent to find out about the eating options so you can do some planning ahead of time. While on board, you should be fine with drinks and water. While day tripping at port, stay away from ice and water. Order soda in a can/bottle or without ice. While others in your party might eat out in town, you'll be able to eat on board later. I was a little bummed I couldn't try the local flavor but better safe.

If you do something like take a catamaran trip where there's food included, you might stick to soda and crackers--skip the vegies, cheese, and fruit b/c they may have been near contaminated water. Instead of the cheap punch, get a beer---again stay away from ice and water. While walking, lying on the beach, going on an excursion, etc, be sure to stay hydrated (no ice), We crohnies dehydrate faster than everyone else. If you can, assign yourself a buddy who is willing to take short breaks with you and help you find a bathroom if needed while on an excursion. And if you have a choice of excursions and need some rest, don't be afraid to choose lying on the beach or even staying on the boat.

I really suggest contacting your GI and telling him your plans. Mine just gave me an emergency supply of prednisone and cipro for my vacation. S/he might even suggest taking antibiotic as a preventative measure.

One of the silly things I did was take in too much fruit juice with some of the cocktails--then wound up with D b/c of that and not b/c of food poisoning.

Above all, have a great time!!!! I hope it's wonderful.
23 years with moderate Crohn's/colitis; fistulizing crohn's; pentasa

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2003
Total Posts : 2481
   Posted 3/6/2008 11:05 AM (GMT -7)   
i agree with above, get a supply of prednisone and cipro.

Also, if you have trouble, stick to soups, pastas, mashed potatoes, mushy fruits like bananas and applesauce. Also, bring some baby food (pureed veggies, preferably organic), in case you get really bad. Drink chamomile tea, it helps with a flare. Avoid processed foods and anything with sugar, have honey in your tea and coffee instead.

And most of all, have a super duper time!

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 3/6/2008 11:12 AM (GMT -7)   
My crohns is not severe and I do not have strictures. But, I went on a cruise for my honeymoon and found it VERY crohns friendly. We were on Norweigan and had one of the more expensive rooms. We had free room service food in addition to all the buffets. There are bathrooms everywhere. If you get tired, you just walk back to your room. I highly recommend it... and like you said, if you need an IV or something the medical staff are on board. But I read an article lately that they don't accept insurance so seeing the medical folk on board could turn out to be expensive. I don't know if they charge or what....
26 Year old married female.  Diagnosed w/ CD 3 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD.  Currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day, hysociamine prn, nexium, and ortho evra.  Good times!!!

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 3/6/2008 1:20 PM (GMT -7)   
Thank you to everyone! I am feeling better about going on this cruise - I will ask my doctor for some emergency medication and be careful about what I eat, but it is so good to know that others have gone on a cruise with CD without problems.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 2113
   Posted 3/6/2008 4:20 PM (GMT -7)   
I no longer travel anywhere without a supply of prednisone-my doctor has no problem with me starting a low dose of pred prior to a trip that might be stressful-like a long flight-for a cruise I think I would just have it for an emergency.

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 3/7/2008 11:49 AM (GMT -7)   
I have taken several cruises after being diagnosed with Crohn's.  I have found it to be a wonderful experience but some preparation is necessary.  Here's my approach.  Check the cruise line's website for information about medical services on board.  Buy trip insurance, it covers emergency evacuation and reimburses some expenses. Download and complete the medical form from the cruise line's website if you need to.  Take your medication in the originial bottles. Get a copy of something from your GI to document your diagnosis and current medication.  Take a summary of your medical history, (medical resume), that lists dates, procedures, treatment, etc. Get your "flare meds" such as pred and cipro take with you. Bonine is wonderful. Pack your over the counter medication for diarrhea, if you have to get it from the ship's docs, they could quarantine you in your room to make sure you don't have norwalk.  If you are on a special diet, let the cruise line know in advance. The menu are so varied, you definitely will not starve. If you are flying, make sure you know the airports and where the bathrooms are.  You can find airport layouts on the internet. Remember that once you get on the plane, you can't go to the toilet just whenever. Plan ahead for accidents.  Take disinfecting wipes and clean your ship cabin when you arrive, especially if you are taking any of the medications that impair your immune system.  Use hand sanitizer a lot.  Take your own antibacterial soap for your cabin, they just have the little bars of soap.  When in port, drink only from cans, no ice or locally prepared foods.  Call the cruiseline and ask about the availability of bathrooms on the shore excursions you choose. They will be able to answer your questions (I love Cozumel).  Relax and enjoy.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 2527
   Posted 3/7/2008 12:00 PM (GMT -7)   
I have been on 4 cruises with CD and never had to use the medical center but m yparents have (but they dont have CD) Just make sure you are careful with your diet they will make anything as you need it Sometimes when I go to functions I just say food allergy makes it safer for me since most associate food allergy (which I do have lots of them as well as CD) with death so they are even more careful to not put certain things in your plate!.

As far as Mexico you hear dot drink the water but also no soda unless it is in a bottle if you can have soda dont forget that ICE is typically made with their tap water so no ice either. Make sure you have foods cooked well enough to kill any possible parasites that can be in the food (example undercooked fish can cause certain intestinal parasites) If in woods use spray...mosqitoes carry heartworm!!!not just dogs get these humans and cats can get it too ...treatments are available for dogs....must be for people too but I figure avoid the possibility alltogether.

Also as far as veggies if you are able to eat them ...most veggies are cleaned with tap water!!!
These foods are fine if you area board the ship since they have their own holding taks of water that is safe for us and you can buy bottled water on the ships.
People get "travelers diarrhea" in Mexico from the water....the true name for that is giardia immodium says it can be used for that which it can but the only true way to rid you of giardia is a long course of antibiotics

I say go have a great time but inform the ship you have medical issues and you may want to find a way to make sure the kitchen knows what foods are a big no no for you when it comes to sit down meals as for the buffets chose carefully and if there is a question about something in it just avoid it but most times there are some chefs that are placing new things on the buffet that you can ask about ingredients.
Dx with Crohn's 1987, symptoms as early as 1984.
Temp iliostomy February 2007, reversed June 2007, Ovarian cysts, migraines, allergies (incl food allergies) , oral allergy syndrome (diff than true food allergies), Asthma, Gall Bladder removed 1999, Inguenal hernia 1987

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