Getting the right travel insurance for your trip is important, especially when you’re embarking on a cruise. From on-board medical expenses to missed departures and severe weather conditions, cruises can be affected by unique risks — which is why it’s worth buying a policy with cruise-specific features.
What's in this guide?
What is cruise travel insurance?
Cruise insurance is essentially a comprehensive travel insurance policy. It offers financial protection against a range of risks, including medical care, emergency medical evacuation, inclement weather and lost luggage.
While most cruise lines offer their own insurance policies, you can typically get a better value if you purchase coverage from a travel insurer. Standalone cruise insurance policies tend to offer higher benefits and additional coverage options, often for a cheaper price.
What does cruise insurance cover?
Most cruise travel insurance policies have these built-in benefits:
- Emergency medical evacuation. If the medical crew can’t give you the care you need on the ship, you’ll be covered for travel off the ship to a medical facility — some policies let you choose.
- Return home early. If you need to cut your trip short for any reason and abandon your cruise, cruise insurance will cover the transportation costs to get you home.
- Port of call change. If the cruise provider changes your cruise itinerary before departure and you choose to continue with your cruise, your policy will cover you for any inconvenience.
- Shipboard service disruption. If a fire, virus or mechanical breakdown forces the cruise line to change your itinerary after the cruise has begun, your policy will compensated for the inconvenience.
- Pre-paid excursion reimbursement. You’ll be compensated for your pre-paid excursions if the itinerary is changed by the cruise line after departure.
- Missed cruise departure. If bad weather causes your flight to be delayed and you miss your cruise, you’ll be compensated for the cost of rejoining your ship.
- Non-medical evacuation. If you need to leave your trip for reasons because of a natural disaster or civil unrest, you’ll be reimbursed for the cost of transportation home or to the nearest safe place.
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What else does travel insurance cover on a cruise?
Along with those cruise-specific benefits, comprehensive travel insurance policies typically offer the following features:
- Overseas medical expenses. Coverage for the emergency medical, hospital, surgical and ambulance costs if you fall ill or are injured overseas.
- Emergency medical evacuation. Coverage if you need to be transported to a properly equipped medical facility.
- Trip cancellation and curtailment. If you have to cancel or cut your vacation short, you’re covered for cancellation fees and deposits for travel, accommodation and tours.
- Trip interruption. You’re covered for travel, accommodations and meals if your trip is interrupted by events beyond your control — like a medical emergency.
- Lost luggage. If your baggage is lost, stolen or damaged during your journey, you’re covered for the cost of its repair or replacement. You can increase your protection to include coverage for phones, cameras and laptops.
- Financial default. If you have to cancel your trip because of financial default of a travel supplier, travel insurance provides financial protection.
- Baggage delay. If your luggage is misplaced or misdirected, you’ll be paid an emergency allowance to buy essentials like clothing and toiletries.
- Travel delay. When bad weather, stolen passports or traffic accidents delay your travel plans, you’re covered for additional travel, food and hotel.
How does missed cruise departure coverage work?
Nearly every cruise insurance policy will offer cover you for missed cruise departure. Under this benefit, you’ll be covered for the costs incurred to catch up to your cruise if you miss its departure.
However, your reason for missing the cruise needs to be covered by the plan. Usually policies will cover for reason like bad weather that causes your connecting flight to be delayed, or if a traffic accident prevents you from catching your cruise ship on time.
In these circumstances, you’ll be covered for the money you spend to catch your cruise, accommodations, food and prepaid, nonrefundable trip payments for the portion of your cruise that you miss.
How is cruise insurance different than the policy offered by the cruise line?
Your cruise line may offer you an insurance policy when you book. While purchasing insurance directly from a cruise line is convenient, these policies can be limited.
They often come with a range of restrictions, such as:
- Low benefit limits for emergency medical assistance, treatment and transportation.
- Minimal covered events for trip cancellation or trip interruption claims.
- No coverage if your tour supplier or cruise line operator goes bankrupt.
- May only offer travel vouchers or travel credit after a claim.
In most cases, you can get better coverage for a lower rate if you purchase your insurance directly from a travel insurance provider.
Cruise travel insurance offers all the usual features of a comprehensive policy, including trip interruption, lost luggage and travel delays. But it also offers coverage that’s tailored to cruising, like missed cruise departure and shipboard service disruption.
For the best cruise coverage, compare travel insurance companies and pay special attention to policy add-ons and benefits.
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