Injury and illness aboard an Antarctic cruise ship

Wilderness Environ Med. 2007 Spring;18(1):36-40. doi: 10.1580/06-weme-or-029r.1.


Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the incidence and patterns of injury and illness among passengers aboard a cruise ship in Antarctica.

Methods: Demographic data on passengers were collected for all participants aboard Antarctica cruises on a single ship during the Antarctic summer cruise season of November 2004 through March 2005. Medical logs from each of 11 cruise trips were reviewed for presentation of injuries and illnesses.

Results: A total of 1057 passengers were included in the study, of which 47.4% were male. The mean age of the passengers was 54 years (+/- 16.5 years). The overall incidence rate of injury and illness was 21.7 per 1000 person-days. Motion sickness was the most common condition, comprising 42.3% of all medical encounters by the ship physician, followed by infectious diseases (17.2%) and injury (15.0%). The incidence rate of injury increased significantly with age, whereas the incidence rate of motion sickness decreased significantly with age. There was little variation in the incidence and patterns of injury and illness between genders.

Conclusions: Most illnesses and injuries were due to the motion of the ship, and a large proportion of the passengers aboard the cruise ship in Antarctica were elderly. Injury among older passengers is of special concern.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infections / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motion Sickness / epidemiology*
  • Ships*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*