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Questions about doctors and older travelers on European River Cruises

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Jun 10th, 2007, 12:05 PM
  #1
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Questions about doctors and older travelers on European River Cruises

I・m exploring the possibility of going with my mother on an 8 or 9 day European River Cruise to the Christmas Markets in 2007 (Danube or Rhine.) Neither of us has been on a river cruise. I want to be realistic here. She・s 80 years old, and sometimes she requires oxygen when she gets tired or hot. Also, she occasionally sleeps with oxygen at night.

I・ve done some preliminary internet research, and it seems that few ships have on board doctors. Do I need to search further, or is this generally the case for the smaller river cruises? An on board doctor would be a requirement for us.

I would really love to make this happen for us. She likes tours for the same reasons that have been discussed here many times (convenience of having someone else take care of the details and the luggage). With a cruise, we would only have to unpack once and have all meals served on the ship. At first, it seemed like an easy decision, considering her age but now I・m wondering if it・s not such a good idea.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Jun 10th, 2007, 12:13 PM
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I could be mistaken but I thought all ships had a medical facility and Dr. on duty, but he is not equipped to do major procedures, just to bandaid or medicate you until you get to a hospital if possible. That may be easier on a river cruise than being out to sea maybe, I would book Insurance and mke sure you understand the terms & conditions of it. Hopefully someone else will chime in...
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Jun 10th, 2007, 01:12 PM
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Unrelated but still relevant issue - she should be prepared to have her own oxygen, whether or not their is an MD on ship. It is my understanding that they would certainly provide emergency oxygen, but could not reasonably be expected to provide it for sleeping at night.

So that presents issue of how she is to get this oxygen - and if it involves a flight, what she would do during the flight. She wouldnot be able to bring extra oxygen cannisters with her on a flight for use on the trip - so you would have to find a source of it once at embarkation city. Not an impossible problem, but one to consider.
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Jun 10th, 2007, 02:00 PM
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Thanks for the responses. Gail, yes, oxygen is related and relevant. I checked Delta's website, and they do make accomodations for people who may need oxygen. For a fee, Delta will provide it for use in flight, or you can bring your own. They outlines all the regulations, etc.

Will check other carriers' guidelines, too. Still have to figure out logistics of arranging for it on the ship. Surely I'm not the only person whose had a situation like this, am I? Thanks again for your input!
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Jun 10th, 2007, 04:26 PM
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I too thought all ships(dontknow about river boats) have M.D. who speak english....mostly internists.
If you go take a list of your mothers M.D.s,(and their phone #;s) and the latest EKG and chest report(
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Jun 10th, 2007, 05:21 PM
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Are you going with a tour company? If so, why not ask them if a Dr. is onboard at all times.

We did a Nile cruise as part of our Egypt tour and a Dr. came to the ship when in port when requested.
 
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Jun 11th, 2007, 03:00 AM
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Regarding oxygen at destination, the first place to start is to ask her current respiratory supply company about supplies in Europe - most have lists for US and some have lists for other countries. If that does not work, contact a large teaching hospital in the destination - it may take some amount of telephone tags, or perhaps you can find a way to do it via email.

I would arrange to bring my own oxygen on the flight and not trust it to the airline - too much can go wrong there and if they can lose luggage, reservations and passengers, imagine what they can do with oxygen with far greater consequences. Make sure she has much more with her than she is likely to need in event of delays or if something goes wrong on the destination end.
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Jun 11th, 2007, 11:30 AM
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Thanks, everyone, for your helpful responses. I've been doing a lot of internet research, and found several companies that specialize in medical travel and portable oxygen sources.

There are a lot of details to be handled, but I think it is doable. Thanks again!
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Jun 11th, 2007, 02:59 PM
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We have been on two river cruises, Amsterdam-Budapest and Black Sea to Budapest with Tauck World Discovery...there was no doctor on board, but the stops were so frequent I assume they could easily find one while in port. Most river cruises have in the range of 100 people and are not as fully equipped as cruise ships, but what a fantastic time we had!
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Jun 17th, 2007, 03:32 PM
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Peter Deilmann river cruises have a doctor on board all boats. We did a Paris to Rouen trip with them in Oct and it was lovely. Excellent food.
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Jun 21st, 2007, 10:22 PM
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Given that you have had a number of responses regarding your medical concerns, please consider a somewhat different perspective. Some years ago I took my 76 year old mother, who was suffering from Parkinson's and the early stages of dementia, on a Peter Deilman Danube River cruise. My mother has since passed away but, while difficult, that cruise is a cherished memory. I encourage you to do the cruise with your Mom while you can. I do, however, caution you to check with the cruise line regarding the details of their shore excursions. As a previous poster noted, these ships are usually rather small (compared to the ocean cruise ships) and do not offer as great a variety of excursions. Specifically, make sure your chosen line does not have excursions that require long walks on hilly terrain. Best of luck.
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Jun 22nd, 2007, 07:33 AM
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We went on a Rhine/Moselle cruise a couple of years ago on a small ship (about 80 passengers) and wouldnt recommend it for anyone with breathing difficulties or the very elderly. There was no doctor or elevators on board. When it moored at night often it was double-berthed alongside another ship. These ships run their diesel engines all night to power the electricty etc and the fumes were choking as you get a double dose from 2 ships. Also to get off you had to walk through the next ship to the dockside. The cabins were tiny and only had 11 inches between the beds. The bathroom cubicle was tiny. Check your ship very carefully and if you do go you need to be at the front as far forward and high as you can be. We enjoyed the sights but have learnt from experience.
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Jun 24th, 2007, 01:43 PM
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Thanks, again, everyone for your helpful replies. Whasis, thank you for your lovely remarks. I have received brochures from Peter Deilman cruises and am considering that as a possibility.
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