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Traveling is always an exciting and chaotic time, especially on a cruise. However, regardless of your destination or manner of travel, getting quality sleep is a must. If you’re like me and depend on a CPAP machine to sleep, you may have some concerns about bringing it aboard a ship.  There are many travelers successfully cruising with a CPAP machine right now.

However, with a few simple precautions, you can feel safe about traveling with your expensive and necessary machinery. Since cruise ship personnel deal with thousands of passengers on each trip, they are quite used to working around all sorts of medical necessities, including passengers cruising with a CPAP machine.

Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

cruising with a CPAP machine


If you’re flying to your debarkation point, your first challenge is just getting it on the plane.  I’ve flown with my CPAP machine numerous times (in fact, my case is starting to wear out!), but I always take certain precautions. For one thing, I never let it out of my physical reach. It is expensive and delicate so I’m not taking any chances on it getting dropped, bumped or stolen. You just never know.  One time someone stole my baby’s diaper bag from the airport lounge – geez!

I have a handy little strap thing that I use to secure it to my carry-on bag. That’s helpful when you are clutching your boarding pass, your ID, your purse, and maybe wrangling a toddler or two (mine are in all their 20’s and 30’s, so I’m pretty good on that score).  Oh hey, it’s actually got a name – the Bag Bungie.  I just call it that strap thing….

How to Stand Your Ground

I treat my machine like a purse when it comes time to board the plane. There is no way I’m going to let it go into a cargo area or an overhead bin where it could fall. If anyone challenges me, I say loudly and clearly that it is a piece of delicate medical equipment that needs to stay with me. If you stand your ground, they’ll find a way to accommodate you.

Here’s a cool medical tag I found on Amazon.  I’m getting one for my bag too.  I figure this gives you a lot more credibility if someone wants you to put it in an overhead bin or something.

I’m a Scout leader, so I’m on that “Be Prepared” kick. So I carry a doctor’s note of medical necessity in my bag along with the specs of my machine settings and a spare mask. If something broke, it would be a hassle to replace, but I’d have a better chance if I can specify exactly what is needed and that I have a right to have it. Just a good idea to prepare for the worst. I could manage a quick nap without it, but a whole night without my machine would be a misery for me and my poor husband.


Under no circumstances let them put your CPAP machine with your non carry-on luggage. They pile suitcases 5 or 6 deep in carriers to bring them on board the ship.  Your poor machine wouldn’t stand a chance. Fortunately, the cruise lines are very considerate about this and will allow you to hand-carry it onto the ship yourself.

Under no circumstances let them put your CPAP with your non carry-on luggage. They pile suitcases 5 or 6 deep in carriers to bring them on board the ship.  Your poor machine wouldn’t stand a chance.

Once you get into your cabin, you’ll want to set it up immediately. Bringing your own extension cord or power strip is highly recommended as cruise cabins are notoriously short on electrical plugs. I wouldn’t worry about adapters – most ships have standard plugs, but if you should have a problem simply ask your Cabin Steward – people leave things like that behind all the time. Here is a nice portable power strip/USB charger I like to bring on trips – Note:  There is a difference between a surge protector and a power strip.  You can’t bring a surge protector on board a ship.  But this little baby is A-OK and can charge your devices as well with 3 USB ports!

How to Set up your CPAP Machine Securely

You’ll want to set it up your machine on a nightstand in a corner where it is well-protected from accidental bumps or tripping over the cord. Sometimes I’m able to wedge a chair in there for a little extra protection. If not, I disassemble it every morning and secure it back in it’s case.  Then I put it on the floor in the closet so it won’t fall. The stewards try to be careful, but they’re working to clean each cabin quickly, so you want to make it easy.

Most cruise lines carry distilled water that can be purchased.  Or you can use bottled water for just a few days if you clean it properly when you get home. Make sure to take any cleaning supplies that you may use to clean your machine with. Be sure to transport them in 3 oz. TSA-friendly bottles. Here’s a travel-sized cleaning device that I’m eyeballing that looks pretty cool.  It’s about a third the price of the high-dollar So Clean device and the reviews are great.

If you’ll follow these guidelines, cruising with a CPAP machine should be easy as PIE!  You’ll want to be well rested for all that fun adventuring you’ll be doing!

If you have suggestions from your own experience of cruising with a CPAP machine, please leave them in the comments.  I’d love to hear them.

Other cruise posts you might enjoy:

25 Useful items to Bring on a Cruise

15 Hacks to SAVE MONEY When Booking Your Next Cruise

Do you need cruise insurance? You bet you do!

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