Dialysis at Sea Cruises

This article appears on page 30 of the August 2012 issue.

My wife, Susan, has end-stage renal disease and needs to have dialysis treatments at least three times a week. My question for ITN readers is, ‘What are some travel packages on which this is possible?’

To get the ball rolling, I’ll tell you about a company we used for a cruise we took.

In conjunction with my travel agent, Susan made arrangements through Dialysis at Sea Cruises (2504 Merchant Ave., Odessa, FL 33556; 800/544-7604) for a February ’11 Caribbean cruise round trip out of Fort Lauderdale — visiting Mexico, Panama, Colombia (Cartagena) and the Caymans (cruise ships galore there) — aboard the Celebrity Equinox. She contacted them about six to eight months in advance.

Jeffrey and Susan Zarit in the dining room of the Celebrity Equinox in February 2011.

Susan was able to get dialysis on board ship. It was not inexpensive, but she got what she needed and we had a good time.

The cost of the dialysis only was $4,500, and none was paid for by Medicare or other insurance. The price sounds more reasonable when you consider that for a dozen or so passengers per cruise, Dialysis at Sea Cruises provides up to 11,000 pounds of equipment plus a nephrologist and several technicians.

I used a travel agent to book the cruise. We had a handicapped-accessible cabin that cost us about $8,000-$9,000. Round-trip airfare from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Ft. Lauderdale was more than $500 each in coach. Incidental expenses and the many items on board ($15 for a glass of wine with dinner, for example) added another $2,500 to the cost.

The total cost of our 10-day trip, including air, cruise, dialysis, spas, booze, souvenirs, etc., was about $15,000.

Dialysis at Sea can make arrangements for cruises in many parts of the world.

We have just booked another such a cruise off New England for September-October. I hope Susan is well enough to take it, but, in case not, I purchased two insurance policies, one which covers preexisting conditions (more expensive for me, as I’m older than her) and another that will cover the cost of the dialysis.

Wylie, TX