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Cruise Ship Dentists – Do Cruise Ships Have Them and Other FAQs

If you are considering taking a cruise, you may be wondering if there are dentists onboard.

Most modern cruise ships hold thousands of guests, so it is realistic to expect that at some point a guest will be in need of dentistry.

Norwegian Prima
Norwegian Prima holds over 3000 passengers

Do Cruise Ships Have Dentists on Board?

Cruise ships do not have dentists onboard.

On a cruise ship, you’ll find a range of medical personnel and a fully stocked medical centre – but there are no dentists or dental facilities.

This may be because dental problems are rarely an emergency.

The primary aim of the medical centres on cruise ships is to either fix the problem – or make the guest well enough to seek treatment on land if necessary.

They focus primarily on emergency treatment or minor problems.


What Happens if You Get Toothache on a Cruise?

If you do have a toothache or a tooth-related problem on a cruise, you have a couple of options:

Get Pain Killers From The Medical Centre

There isn’t a specific dentist on board, but the medical facilities and team will still be happy to see you.

If you were in lots of pain though, the medical staff would at least be able to give you some painkillers and advise you about what you should do next.

In the first instance, it’s usually best to phone the medical centre, as opposed to going there physically, as they will usually be able to form some sort of diagnosis over the phone.

At this point, they will either invite you down to the medical centre, or they’ll send somebody to your cabin to check on you.

Cruise Ship Medical Centres

Cruise ships have well-equipped medical facilities and the capacity to deal with a range of medical problems.

You usually find a medical centre that is fully stocked with all the medicines that the guests could possibly need. You’ll also find a range of equipment – like X-ray machines for guests who need them.

Medical centre onboard a cruise ship
Medical centre onboard a cruise ship

On most cruise ships, you will find at least two doctors and nurses. Many of the crew members who work on cruise ships will have basic first-aid training.

Do be aware though, that medical treatment on cruise ships are not cheap. You do have to pay for the services that you receive, and claim the money back on your travel Insurance.

This is one reason why I suggest that you always get travel insurance before your cruise.

Even if you’re just cruising from the US around the Caribbean, make sure you’ve got travel insurance because the costs of any medical care can rack up extremely fast.

In the post below you’ll find a good example of why you need travel insurance regardless of where you are cruising to:

Cruise Ship Deaths: What Happens Next? Step by Step Process Guide

Buy Over The Counter Medicines

Your first option if you have a tooth-related problem on a cruise, is to buy medicine over the counter.

On most cruise ships, you will find a shop that has over-the-counter medicines, such as painkillers and cold and flu medicines.

This would work best and be cheapest for guests who are just in a little bit of discomfort.

Be aware though, that these shops only have limited opening hours and will usually not be open when the ship is in port.

Interesting medication  in the onboard shop on Spectrum of the Seas in Asia
Interesting medication in the onboard shop on Spectrum of the Seas in Asia

Medicines can be quite a bit more expensive in the onboard shops than they are on land, so if at all possible bring your medicines from home.

I do pack incredibly light but I like to make sure that I have lots of medicines.

Find out how to stay healthy when you cruise, and suggestions on first aid items and medications to pack, read this article next:

Staying Healthy When You Cruise, Avoiding Seasickness – Medications and First Aid Items to Pack

Bring Tooth Kits From Home

Many people like to bring do-it-yourself tooth kits from home.

If you are somebody who has had previous teeth problems, it can be worth buying a small kit and bringing that with you on the cruise.

If you suspect that you may have a tooth-related medical problem, this can save you a lot of money.

Of course, this doesn’t make sense for everybody but if you are worried, it can provide you peace of mind.

I’d suggest an emergency filling kit like this one found on amazon*.

Seek Treatment on Land

It may be that the best thing to do is to seek treatment in port.

This does of course, depend on where you are sailing – but in a lot of places, it can be a good option to seek medical care on land.

If you have something like a filling that is needed, which can be fixed relatively quickly, you may be able to get this done in port. It may be expensive though, so keep this in mind.

If you have a more complex problem, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to solve it during the limited time that you have in port. At the very least you could get an opinion for my dentist on land.

The cruise line may help you find a dentist on land, but generally speaking, you would be on your own to try and sort this out.


Wait Until You Get Home

The last option will be to try and wait until you get home.

If the dental problem did become quite extreme, you could try and fly home from a port to get it fixed, but this could be very expensive.

The best thing to do, if at all possible, would be to take enough painkillers so that you could stay on the cruise until you got home – and then sort out your dentistry problem.

Travel Insurance

Some travel insurance providers will cover dental problems.

What they cover does vary depending on the policy that you’ve purchased, but common things that insurance will pay for are things like dental fees incurred by visiting a dentist in port.

It is always worth checking what your travel insurance policy includes.

Before You Go:

Find out whether it is better to take out Insurance with the cruiseline, or take out your own insurance policy here:

Should You Buy Your Travel Insurance Through The Cruise Line or Directly from an Insurance Company?

Find out the real life costs of having to go to a cruise ship medical centre for treatment here:

How Much Does Medical Care Cost on a Cruise? Real Examples (X-Rays, Consultations & More)

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.