When a crew member goes to work for a new cruise line, he must submit to a pre-employment medical exam. The purpose of this pre-employment medical exam is to determine if the crew member is healthy, fit for duty, and does not suffer from contagious diseases or birth defects. This applies equally to veteran and new crew members.
There are two types of pre-employment medical examinations that a cruise ship crew member undergoes. The initial pre-employment medical examination is done before he is hired by the cruise line for the first time. The second type of pre-employment medical examination is the one that a returning crew member has for any following contracts with the same company. The most important one is the initial pre-employment medical examination.
These initial pre-employment medical exams are conducted in the crew member’s country of origin by doctors approved by the cruise lines. The crew member answers a written medical questionnaire. The doctor examines him, takes his history, and orders any necessary diagnostic tests such as blood, X-rays, etc. The crew member should always obtain and check the doctor’s report for mistakes to make sure it reflects what the crew member told the doctor.
If the medical examination shows that the crew member is healthy, free of contagious diseases and birth defects, the cruise line will receive a medical report indicating that the crew member is fit for duty. If the medical examination shows that the crew member suffers from any pre-existing medical condition, the cruise line will also be informed. At that point the cruise line has three choices. It can refuse to hire the crew member, it can hire him without conditions, or it can hire him with the understanding that it will not be responsible for any medical problems arising from that pre-existing medical condition.
Most of the time, the cruise lines refuse to hire a crew member with pre-existing medical conditions. Some crew members forget to disclose pre-existing medical conditions because they have learned to live with them, or because those health problems happened a long time ago. If the cruise line finds out that a crew member forgot to disclose a pre-existing medical condition, it can fire the crew member, refuse to provide him medical care for that condition, or both.
Our advice for any crew member that is joining a cruise line for the first time is to be truthful during his pre-employment medical examination, and inform the doctor about previous health problems.