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Will You Pass a Medical Exam for a Cruise Ship Job?

All new hires and returning crew must successfully complete a valid physical exam prior to joining a cruise ship for their contract. Details of past and present medical history must be given as well as a complete physical examination given by an authorized physician. Are you physically, medically and psychologically fit to work at sea? Will you pass your pre-employment seafarers' medical examination (PEME)?

Not only does the medical exam ensure the interest of the seafarer, but also the interest and responsibility of the cruise line. Is the individual fit to do their job onboard? Are they fit to cope with living conditions on board? Will they be physically and psychologically fit to deal with emergencies at sea? Is there a potential that the crew member will require emergency medical treatment due to their pre-existing medical conditions?

Will You Pass a Medical Exam for a Cruise Ship Job?

The PEME includes a battery of tests including blood test, urine test, chest x-ray, Mantoux skin test, immunological tests, liver function test, blood pressure test, pregnancy test (women) and possibly an EKG. Height and weight will be measured with the physician assessing BMI along with the ability to pass an exercise and performance test. Testing blood for hepatitis antibodies or antigens and liver function is also part of the medical exam. For blood pressure, the doctor is looking that the reading is less than 140 systolic and 90 diastolic.

There are a few other red flags that will lead to an "unfit" classification on a pre-employment medical. Having certain allergies or medication dependencies such as a necessity to carry an 'epi-pen' or the need to regularly use a preventative asthma inhaler may also deem you to be "unfit". Additionally, a fitness certificate will not be issued if there is evidence of poor dental health.

Also be prepared for probing questions about alcohol use, failed relationships, homesickness, suicidal thoughts, ability to concentrate, and side effects of any medication. Physicians are assessing your psychological fitness which is also part of the exam.

On the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency (MCA) website, it gives guidance for examining physicians. The Approved Doctor Guidance (ADG) is also helpful for seafarers to understand how they will be tested and how the doctors determine fitness. The following is list of the Guidances on their website.

ADG 1 Pulmonary Tuberculosis
ADG 2 Infections Transmitted in Body Fluids
ADG 3 Cancer
ADG 4 Diabetes
ADG 5 Obesity
ADG 6 Mental Disorders
ADG 7 Loss of Consciousness, Epilepsy and Sleep Disorders
ADG 8 Blood Pressure
ADG 9 Cardiac Events
ADG 10 Asthma
ADG 11 Dental Inspection
ADG 12 Urine Testing
ADG 13 Hearing, Ear Disease, Disorders of Speech and Communication
ADG 14 Vision and Eye Diseases
ADG 15 Medication
ADG 16 Allergies
ADG 17 Assessment of Physical Capabilities