No matter how small a cruise ship is, it will always be equipped with basic medical facilities, though specific facilities will vary between cruise lines and ships. For example, Celebrity Cruises, have a fully qualified doctor and a minimum of one nurse. But on Celebrity Xpedition there is usually only one licensed physician onboard.
As always, it’s crucial you do some research into each cruise line, especially if you have any specific requirements. However, larger and more modern ships will tend to have better equipped medical facilities and a bigger range of treatments to choose from. This is because they carry a greater number of passengers.
The Royal Caribbean International fleet for example, has facilities onboard to cope with everything from minor ailments to heart attacks, haemorrhages and respiratory failure. Their ships all meet or exceed the American College of Emergency Physicians’ Health Care Guidelines for Cruise Ship Medical Facilities. All of the Royal Caribbean ships carry defibrillators and electrocardiogram machines, as well as digital X-ray equipment which give you an idea of how seriously medical care is taken onboard cruise ships.