Staying healthy is an important part of life, not just work. But with cruise ship jobs, this aspect becomes doubly important. Living and working relatively far from land can pose problems although all cruise vessels offer some sort of medical aid on board.
However, they’re not taking any chances. In order to get on board in the first place, you will need a medical certificate, signed by an authenticated or approved doctor. Your recruitment agency – like Kamaxi Overseas – will help you get in touch with one in your vicinity.
This practice of certifying medical fitness of crew began 70 years ago when the International Labour Organisation realised the benefits of being healthy at sea. It wanted to ensure that crew were healthy so they do not pose a danger to others on board. This is especially true of cruise ships where crew live in close quarters with each other and can often come in contact with passengers – many of them over the span of a single day.
Therefore, Convention No 73 of the International Labour Organisation stated that anyone working on a ship must have a certificate signed by a medical practitioner that proves he or she is fit for the work he or she may be engaged in while on board.
The Pre-Employment Seafarers’ Medical Examination, or PEME, includes a wide range of tests to check for a number of health issues particularly pre-existing conditions that could manifest on board during the duration of the contract.
In the UK, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency offers guidance for about 17 conditions, but in general approved medical practitioners will ask any or all of the following: a Mantoux skin test to check for immunity to tuberculosis, chest x-ray, an ECG, and tests for blood, urine, immunology, liver function, blood pressure as well as pregnancy for women.
The doctor will look for a blood pressure reading that is around 140/90, check your body-mass index by measuring your height and weight and also see if you can pass an exercise or performance test.
It is also important to maintain good dental hygiene as some doctors may look at this as a parameter on which to consider you ‘fit’. When you go for your examination, carry along any medications you take regularly, as well as your glasses, a copy of any vaccinations you have received and contact lenses or spectacles if you use them. It is best to avoid actually wearing contact lenses as you will have to remove them during the appointment anyway.
Doctors will also ask you questions that will help determine your mental health, including queries about alcohol use/abuse, suicidal thoughts, homesickness, issues with concentration, side effects of medications, failed or stressful relationships, etc.
It helps to be honest about any issues or conditions as these play a big role in life on board, which involves long work hours and living with crew members from around the world.
While on board, the onus is on you to keep yourself physically and mentally fit so you can do your job well. If you are deemed unfit at any point, the cruise ship company may send you home as they would prefer not to take any risks.
Cruise ship jobs will have you working seven days a week, but they do offer some free time. Fill this up with activities that keep you healthy. Many crew members fall prey to the temptation of ignoring their physical health.
To avoid this, Use some free time to hit any of the various activity or recreation centres built especially for crew – the gym or swimming pool, etc. Be mindful of what you eat as the food in the crew mess offers enticing comfort food options from around the world that can be high in calories. They also offer fruit, vegetables and other healthy options but the temptation to choose the former over the latter is strong.
Stay mentally active and relaxed by engaging in some meditation every day or a hobby you enjoy – such as learning a new language from another crew member. Crew Wifi allows you to stay in touch with friends and family back home. On board, stay away from negative people, and make a few friends you can trust so you can speak to them if you feel mentally exhausted or strained.
Your good health – physical and mental – ensures a happy and long career on cruise ships.