Last Updated: 5/8/21 | May 8th, 2021
Travel insurance is one of the most important things you can get for your trip.
As I’ve come to learn — and as any traveler will tell you — things don’t always go as planned when you travel.
Sure, nine times out of ten you’ll be completely fine. But every now and then you’ll stumble into an unfortunate situation.
Maybe it’s just a missed flight or a delayed connection. Maybe your wallet disappears while riding a crowded bus. Maybe, like me, you burst an eardrum while scuba diving in Thailand.
Bad things, unfortunately, do happen when you travel. And they can get really expensive if you’re injured or fall sick abroad and are not insured.
But what about if you’re taking a cruise — how does travel insurance work then?
Well, of course, you still need travel insurance if you’re on a cruise, but there are some extra things you’ll want to be aware of.
7 Things to Look for in a Cruise Travel Insurance Policy
1. Make sure that whichever travel insurance policy you choose, you double-check that it’s valid for any emergency and problem that might arise on a cruise specifically. Often, cruise coverage is an extra charge on top of your regular travel insurance.
2. Even if you’re cruising close to home, you may still run into unforeseen issues. For example, in the United States, medical insurance stops covering you when your ship is more than six hours away from a US port; in Australia, it stops as soon as your ship leaves port. For that reason, you’ll want to get a policy that covers you even if you’re in/around your home country.
3. Be aware that the treatment for less serious medical conditions — the kinds that don’t require you to leave the trip — are more expensive on a cruise ship than on land. Make sure your policy has a sufficient amount of medical coverage (at least $100,000 USD).
4. Remember, if you fall seriously ill when you’re at sea and you need to be evacuated to a hospital, it’s more expensive than if you’re already on land. Evacuation by helicopter, to the nearest treatment facility, can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Make sure your policy has sufficient evacuation coverage (at least $250,000 USD).
If you don’t want to get stuck in that “nearest” hospital, consider getting Medjet. They are the premier membership program that then gets you all the way to a hospital at home.
5. Be sure to have cancellation, delay, or trip interruption coverage too. For example, if you have a flight delay that means you’ll miss the start of the cruise, it’s a lot more difficult to deal with than just arriving late for a land-based trip. Hurricanes or other severe weather events also affect cruises significantly, and you’ll want your insurance policy to take that into account.
6. Take a look at the shore activities you might participate in during the cruise and check if any need to be mentioned to your insurer, like certain adventure activities or water sports.
7. Unlike other kinds of travel, you might be more likely to take valuable jewelry and expensive clothing on a cruise, for some of the fancy dinners and events cruise ships hold. Often a regular travel insurance policy will only cover these items up to a certain value, so check that your belongings are covered against possible loss or theft.
What is the Best Cruise Travel Insurance?
With so much to consider, it can be hard to decide which cruise travel insurance to choose.
Be aware that while many cruise companies offer their own insurance, the conditions are often stricter, and you might find it hard to make a claim. For example, they often will only reimburse up to 75% of your expenses, tend to have only a short list of reasons you are able to cancel for, and rarely cover pre-existing medical conditions. You’re always better off using a third-party insurer.
Whichever policy you decide on, it’s vital that you read the policy details carefully so you know exactly what you are covered for.
The insurers below are some I recommend that have specific cruise insurance policies and offer a decent amount of coverage for a lot of potential mishaps.
Travel Guard has specific cruise insurance policies, which makes it simpler than trying to find an add-on. If you’re getting a quote online, they’ll ask you to specify if you’re taking a plane, a cruise, or both. They cover any emergency travel assistance, trip interruption, delay, or cancellation.
Medical expenses and emergency evacuation are covered, but the maximum amount varies between the essential, preferred, and deluxe plans: the essential plan includes a $150,000 limit on emergency evacuation, which might not be quite enough from some parts of the world, but you can get up to a million dollars of coverage on the deluxe plan.
In early 2019, VisitorsCoverage and IMG partnered to launch a new insurance product specifically for cruise travelers, called SafeCruise. The SafeCruise plan includes all the extra protection you need as a cruise traveler and even has an upgrade option to include coverage of up to 75% of prepaid, nonrefundable costs if you cancel for any reason at all.
The emergency evacuation or medical repatriation coverage has a high limit of $1,000,000. Additionally, as long as you purchase insurance by the time you make your final trip payment, there’s a waiver for most pre-existing conditions, too.
Insure My Trip
Insure My Trip is an unbiased aggregator site that will look at many different insurance policies to find the one that best fits your needs.
For example, if your cruise is during hurricane season to an area that might be affected, its search algorithm takes that into account and recommends travel insurance policies with good coverage for weather problems. It’s also the best place to find travel insurance for travelers over 65.
Don’t go on a cruise without proper travel insurance. That means being aware and paying a bit more attention than usual to the conditions of your policy. Make sure that any policy you choose covers you sufficiently for medical evacuation, medical treatment onboard, and other mishaps like missed connections, stolen luggage, delays, and cancellations.
If you can’t afford to add cruise travel insurance to the costs of your trip, you probably can’t afford to travel. It’s just not worth the risk of coming home with a bill in the tens of thousands of dollars or more if something unexpected goes wrong.
In my experience, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. The peace of mind is worth the extra cost.
How to Travel the World on $50 a Day
My New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A to Z planning guide that the BBC called the “bible for budget travelers.”
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Want to travel for free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation. They are what keep me traveling so much for so little. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.