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From Ankeny, Iowa, USA:

Our family will be cruising to the Eastern Caribbean, and I've obtained all the necessary information from the cruise lines/airlines. I plan on bringing "back-up" insulin just in case the original is lost or broken, but what are my options being outside the USA for filling a new prescription if it comes to that?


A conventional cruise liner will carry a ship's doctor who will almost certainly have some insulin on board and be able to provide a prescription for one of the many ports of call. To be certain, you could confirm this with the shipping office.


Additional comments from David S. Holtzman, Esq.:

My experience in obtaining prescription drugs in the Caribbean is as follows:
  • Dutch and French possessions: No problem; US quality pharmaceuticals available without prescription if not a narcotic; much cheaper.
  • US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico: Signed physician's prescription required. US pharmaceuticals.
  • British possessions: Some items require physician's prescription; US quality pharmaceuticals available; much cheaper.
  • Mexico: Pharmaceuticals available without prescription if not a narcotic; much cheaper but beware that counterfeiting of drugs is a problem.

I would have on hand an original signed prescriptions from your physician at home. Also, the ship's physician will be happy to store your extra supplies. Remember, importation of pharmaceuticals into the USA is a gray area unless you have in your possession a valid prescription, and then, I believe, you are generally limited to a 30 day supply. However, in my experience, this has received spotty enforcement.

Relax and enjoy your trip!


Additional comments from Dr. Stuart Brink:

Most of the Caribbean Islands will have adequate medication access as will the cruise ship pharmacy. If you bring double the amount of supplies you usually require for the time of your vacation, you should be in good shape. The cabins are usually air-conditioned so that you should not have problems with temperature degradation of insulin.


Additional comments from Dr. David Schwartz:

I don't know, but many cruise lines have some very sophisticated medical facilities. Contact the cruise line and see if you can make an arrangement with the ship's doctor to have your back up supplies, etc for you.


[Editor's comment: Also see our Flying With Diabetes Supplies and Traveling with Diabetes pages. SS]

Original posting 2 Jul 2002
Posted to Traveling


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