Cruise Ship SOS, Ben MacFarlane

I have been enjoying reading more books as we have moved to online schooling and being furloughed from work. Made the most of the kindle sale and downloaded a handful of books, admittedly as a med student… most of them (all but one) are medical based. Thought I would give some reviews of the books and how they have changed my view of medicine.

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The first book I started with Cruise Ship SOS: The life-saving adventures of a doctor at sea. By Dr Ben MacFarlane and Ghost Written by Neil Simpson, it encompasses a number of MacFarlane’s adventures in sea medicine into one around the world cruise, with one starting minutes after he boards for the first time! The story comprises a series of intriguing medical scenarios based on real life that really capture the reader. Combined with a storyline centred around a fictional world cruise based on MacFarlane’s first worldie (world cruise) you become connected to all the staff and guests on board.

I bought this book because I recently came across the role of a cruise ship doctor as a possible future career choice and wanted an incite into some of the day to day goings on. It is still a good read even if you aren’t medically minded, it’s engaging and everything is explained in a way that is easy to understand; a good bedtime read that you can finish in a few days.

The most moving part for me was the story of Mr and Mrs Baxter. A retired solider desperate to get to Singapore before his death for severe cancer and his wife. The perseverance of the wife and the medical staff in helping Mr Baxter accomplish his final wish was really emotionally and the care and compassion they showed towards the couple as the whole ship saw him off as they docked in Singapore. It is a really moving moment.

Mixing both medical and cruise life anecdotes really give a full view into the life on ship, with people requesting upgrades by faking claustrophobia to the husband with third degree sunburn when left sleeping on deck. The slightly lighthearted stories give a positive overall tone to the book despite the sad tales throughout.

There is the moment where MacFarlane’s senior doctor mentions that he’s watched the sunset over the Sydney opera house every year and all they other amazing sites they sea in port. This combined with the lack of day to day monotony, he questions how he could ever go back to normal A&E after this.  It also explores the issues with relationships and the loneliness you experience in that role; giving both positive and negatives sides to the life as a cruise ship doctor. It got me thinking, that this could be something I want from life; I could see myself living at sea and doing that job. It definitely got me looking at the job and the training requirements.

Has it swayed me into cruise ship medicine? Well, it’s definitely had me looking at the career requirements online and gotten me intrigued. The pathway is along the lines of Emergancy Medicine and it defiantly something I can see being included in a career path, who knows?!

Read this book for yourself, do you think you would get swept out for a career at sea?

3 thoughts on “Cruise Ship SOS, Ben MacFarlane

  1. It would be challenging to be a doctor at sea

  2. Completely agree! But part of me is kind of intrigued about the challenge

  3. I’m not sure I could ever be a doctor, much less one at sea, I’m too much of a homebird and I get seasick too easily, haha. But it sounds like a fascinating read and I can quite see why you’d be intrigued by a career like this! x

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