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Cruising with Type 1 Diabetes
From water activities to endless buffets to being isolated from supplies, cruises present a few unique challenges. With a little preparation and some precautions, this can be overcome for some smooth sailing.
Before You Go
Call Your Travel Agent or Cruise Line
Most cruiselines will work with you to ensure you and your family's needs are met, and some even have their own special needs coordinator!
- Request a refrigerator in your room (most already have one) and a sharps box
- Ask about special dining menus for dietary restrictions
- Inquire about the daycare and how best to ensure your child's needs are met there
- Request free Wi-Fi for medical devices. Not all cruiselines will give you any, but some may give you a free package of minutes or free Wi-Fi for the whole cruise.
- Ask for clearance to bring any liquids or other banned items if you need them. It varies among cruiselines, but some print a special little drink icon on your cruise ticket so that security and check-in is aware of your clearance (so you may need to reprint your pass if you printed it before this step). You will also want to check their policy on where the liquids are packed.
Pack Your Supplies
Murphy's law will ensure that this is the time you drop and break a vial of insulin or your meter batteries finally die (or your meter dies altogether). And don't expect or rely on the ship to have anything you forgot. Pack back-ups to your back-ups, if you can! Expect pump sites and CGMs to need to be replaced more frequently due to the water activities. Vet wrap and patches my help to extend the life of your devices.
Frio insulin cooling cases are great for keeping insulin room temperature (in up to 100 degree weather). They stay cool for up to 48 hours and they are activated by water, so they can be great options for traveling with insulin and to throw in your bag by the pool or beach!
Pack a carb counting book if you need it for reference (especially if you don't end up getting Wi-Fi)!
Consider Travel Insurance
If you're flying to a different country, check your current health insurance plan's travel terms and consider getting travel insurance in the case of any emergencies.
The Day Of the Cruise
Visit the Daycare/Kids' Group Area
Go to the kid's area/daycare as soon as you get on the ship. This will give you a chance to talk to the staff and discuss your child's needs before it gets busy and chaotic.
Prep Your Cabin
Ensure any back-up insulin is stored in the refrigerator (assuming that's where you want it!) - check the temperature to ensure it is working well and doesn't freeze or under-cool. Ensure your low/emergency supplies are in a place you will easily find them.
Swing by the Internet Cafe
Visit the internet cafe to redeem any i packages you may have been given (or to try to get wifi if you did not already do this before you left). Remember, you will need Wi-Fi to use the Dexcom Follow or Share app and if you want to search for carb counts!.