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Deciding to have knee replacement surgery usually means that you’ll be less active for a few months. This can be difficult if you’re trying to plan a vacation. My dilemma occurred a few months prior to knee replacement because I was unsure if I’d be able to attend a cruise that my wife had booked.
I had a few dates in mind for the surgery but I still had to ask my doctor when I could go on a cruise after knee replacement surgery (TKR). After talking with the doctor as well as friends who went through TKR surgery, I felt confident I’d not only be able to go on the cruise, but I’d be able to enjoy it.
Recovery will differ for each person, but my cruising experience should help you as you plan the timing of your surgery.
Booking A Cruise And Knee Replacement Surgery In Advance
My wife had planned a cruise a year in advance and we were going with 7 other couples. When the cruise was booked I had no idea that I would be having knee replacement surgery. Later in the year, after multiple visits to doctors and knee surgeons, I made a decision to have a total knee replacement.
I wanted to have the TKR has soon as possible so I’d have plenty of time to recover before going on the cruise. Unfortunately, we had made other family commitments so that the earliest I could have it was the end of May.
That would only give me 10 weeks of rehabilitation and I wasn’t sure if that was enough time. I didn’t want to continue to put off the surgery and I also thought about waiting until after the cruise to have the surgery.
My surgeon assured me that without complications I would be recovered and ready to go. I had the surgery May 23rd and flew to Seattle on July 31st (you can also read my article about flying after knee replacement). I spent a few days seeing the sights in Seattle before we embarked on our cruise.
Despite my doubts, I was able to do all the excursions and activities that we had signed up for. Overall, I had an enjoyable experience and I’m glad I didn’t cancel the trip.
What My Doctor Said About Cruising 2 Months After TKR
After discussing the trip with my doctor, he encouraged me to have the surgery prior to the cruise. He felt that by 10 weeks I would be fine (not 100% but enough to move around and enjoy myself).
He believed I’d be able to resume most of the activities that I was involved in prior to the surgery. Those activities included swimming, hiking, playing golf, and pickleball.
Some of the shore excursions that were offered with the cruise involved hiking and walking long distances. Other friends that have had TKR also assured me that with hard work I would be ready to go.
My Experience On A Cruise 2 Months After TKR
The walk from our Uber taxi to the ship was a long one. I had to pull my large luggage bag about a half mile and then weave through the terminal registering stations, showing passports and ID and getting our ship documents. Be prepared to walk a little way to and from the taxi to the ship!
Our ship was very large (2500 passengers) and we were on the 10th deck. The ship had an excellent fitness center, two pools, numerous hot tubs, and a walking track not to mention the option of taking the stairs instead of the elevator for the 15 decks of the ship (common cruising amenities).
I took advantage of everything, walking stairs when I could, using the fitness center daily, and utilizing the pool and hot tubs a few times. Every day on board I walked the track trying not to stop for a drink, snack or meal. Food and drink were everywhere. Once you get on the ship it’s nice to know you’ll have luxury facilities to use and you can continue physical therapy at your own pace.
Leaving the ship for excursions often meant a long walk to the excursion bus or into town. Most of our excursions involved walking; city walking tours, gardens, rainforests and hiking trails.
Visiting museums kept me walking and on my feet as well. I rested when I could but I kept up pretty well with our group and did not slow them down. After each excursion, I was tired and my leg was sore (at the end of the day).
I brought my Elasto Gel Wrap on the ship and used it when needed (read my article on the best ice pack after knee replacement). Our cabin had a refrigerator with a freezer to keep the gel wrap cold. After workouts and excursions, I always iced my knee before dinner.
The bed was comfortable and I could elevate my leg with pillows if needed. We had a queen size bed and I had no problems sleeping.
The small bathroom in our room presented a few challenges. There was a step up threshold in and out of the bathroom as well as in and out of the shower. The shower was small but I was pleased there were handles attached on the side that I used to hold on to frequently while bathing.
I attended shows nightly and several talks during the day. These took place in a 2,500 seat theatre and I always made sure to sit in an aisle seat so that I could stretch and bend my right knee.
Reasons You May Need More Time To Recover After Surgery
Not all people who have TKR surgery will be ready to go after 10 weeks. It will be important for you to meet with your doctor so he/she can evaluate your physical condition going into surgery.
Understanding your physical condition pre-surgery will be a big indicator of how quickly you’ll recover.
Here are a few reasons why you might need more time.
- Lack of physical preparation before surgery (lacking strength and or overweight)
- Other complications during and after surgery
- Setbacks in physical therapy
- Lack of physical therapy after surgery
- Weight issues that cause more pressure on the joint
- Experiencing more pain than anticipated in the weeks after surgery
Cruising after TKR depends on the individual. Things to consider should be your overall health, your weight, your pre-surgery physical condition and your ability to get the most out of your physical therapy.
Any complications from surgery that might get you off the fast track for recovery may interfere with any travel plans. Because our trip was planned a year in advance I took the chance that my surgery and recovery would go well and that I would be prepared for our trip. I was fortunate the way things turned out.
Thankfully everything worked out well for me. I thank my caregiver, doctor and physical therapists for getting me ready to go on the cruise.
Hard work has paid off in many ways since my surgery. I cannot stress how important your physical therapy and the exercise on your own will be to your recovery.
Thanks for reading my article. Bon Voyage!