The CLIA member lines have taken a proactive role in addressing the quality of shipboard medical care, and many cruise ship physicians are members of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and serve on that organization's Cruise Ship and Maritime Medicine Section.
As a result of cooperative efforts between experienced cruise ship physicians and ACEP, CLIA cruise lines traveling regularly on itineraries beyond the territorial waters of the coastal state, have agreed to meet or exceed the requirements of the ACEP Health Care Guidelines on Cruise Ship Medical Facilities as revised July 2014. ACEP's guidelines address the facilities, staffing, equipment and procedures for medical infirmaries on cruise ships traveling outside territorial waters of the coastal state. Patients requiring more comprehensive facilities or treatment are typically referred to a shoreside medical facility.
These guidelines are not intended to constitute medical advice, nor to establish standards of care applicable to the industry as a whole. They reflect consensus among member lines of the facilities and staffing needs considered appropriate aboard cruise vessels, within the recognized limitations of the sea environment. However, the practices of individual cruise lines and shipboard physicians may vary depending upon passenger and crew demographics, itinerary, ship's construction and other circumstances.
The guidelines are generally intended to foster the following goals:
- To provide reasonable emergency medical care for passengers and crew aboard cruise vessels
- To stabilize patients and/or initiate reasonable diagnostic and therapeutic intervention
- To facilitate the evacuation of seriously ill or injured patients when deemed necessary by a shipboard physician
The ACEP guidelines can be viewed at