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Can I Go On A Cruise While Pregnant? The Rules Are Surprisingly Strict

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A cruise sounds like every pregnant woman's dream come true: A deck full of lounge chairs inviting you to lay back and doze off, a sparkling pool where you can float to relieve your achy muscles, and an endless smorgasbord of food options with absolutely zero meal prep on your end. And, if you've got kids, the childcare is taken care of, so you can have some time to yourself. Who wouldn't want to indulge in a cruise while pregnant?

But, unfortunately, this is one of those fantasies you may not be able to fulfill. Emily Jackson, a vlogger and person who is currently pregnant, recently learned this the hard way. She and nine members of her family had flown from St. Louis to Miami and were all set for their dream Disney cruise, reported Cafe Mom, But after going through security and boarding the ship, Jackson was notified by staff members that she would have to disembark: Anyone more than 23 weeks pregnant is not allowed, and she was 25 weeks. It didn't matter if she had a doctor's note; the cruise line does not make any exceptions.

So what are your options if you're prego and longing for a little luxury on the high seas? Unfortunately, if you're in, or close to, your third trimester, you're probably not going to have many options, warned Cruise Compete. Most cruise lines do not allow anyone who is past 24 weeks pregnant, in accordance with guidelines from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

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  • Carnival will refuse passage to any pregnant woman "who has entered her 24th week of pregnancy, or who will enter her 24th week of estimated fetal gestational age at any time during the cruise," according to their site.
  • Princess says it's a no-go for anyone "entering the 24th week of their pregnancy by the last day of the cruise due to the risk of preterm contractions." If you are earlier on in your pregnancy, you'll be "required to produce a physician’s letter stating that mother and baby are in good health, fit to travel and the pregnancy is not high risk," explained the site. That letter also has to include your due date as calculated from both your last menstrual period and your ultrasound. And then you'll need a second confirmation "not older than 2 weeks" at the point of embarkation.
  • Norwegian, according to their terms and conditions page, doesn't allow pregnant women "in or over their 24th week of pregnancy" to be on their ships.
  • Royal Caribbean's guidelines are the same: "any Guest who will have entered her 24th week of pregnancy or greater, at any time during the cruise, will be prohibited from sailing," the site states.
  • Holland America Line (HAL) stated that "[w]omen cannot have begun their 24th week of pregnancy at any time before or during the cruise." If you'll be less than 24 weeks, you'll need to provide them with a physician's letter containing the usual info (expected due date, fitness to travel, and a statement that the pregnancy is not high risk). And you'll need to either fax or email that letter to HAL ahead of time.

Cruise lines do have good reasons for disallowing people who are relatively far along in their pregnancy. When you think about it, going on a cruise is a really different type of trip than, say, flying. If something were to happen while you were in the air, you wouldn't be far from either your destination or, if necessary, an emergency landing. Not so on a cruise ship, where you're pretty much stuck. If a pregnancy complication were to arise, or if you went into labor prematurely, they would not be equipped to handle it, as explained by Cruise Critic. And who knows how far you might be from the next port where you could get proper medical attention.

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Even if you're considering booking for an earlier point in your pregnancy, Royal Caribbean's own policy cautions you to weigh all the risks: "The Guest and treating physician should consider before any cruise that there is no Obstetrician/Gynecologist available on the ship, and that pregnancies, when unstable and poorly controlled, are potentially life-threatening, especially without back up."

If you decide to go ahead, Cruise Critic recommended that you arrive prepared. As we've all learned from recent horror stories, disease spreads quickly on cruise ships, and some diseases (like the infamous norovirus) put more strain on someone who is pregnant than on someone who isn't. (Not to mention that your immune system is lowered during pregnancy, so you'll be more likely to catch whatever's floating around.) So, advised Cruise Critic, pack the hand sanitizer and make frequent use of antibacterial wipes wherever you see them.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.