Over 800,000 Australians took an ocean cruise in 2015 and numbers are continuing to grow!
There may have never been a better time to go on a cruise, but before you do it’s important to consider the benefits of purchasing a travel insurance policy.
These days, if cruise companies cancel or delay a scheduled cruise, they’ll usually compensate passengers with a refund, a reschedule or credit on a future cruise. However, this isn’t the case with all cruise companies, and there are many other monetary considerations besides the cost of the actual cruise.
Consider the following:
- What happens to your prepaid deposits if you unexpectedly fall sick before you even make it onboard the cruise ship?
- What if you lose your new camera bought especially for the trip?
- What if your bag or expensive personal belongings are stolen from your cabin?
- What if a family member back home falls seriously ill unexpectedly and you need to return home?
- What if you become injured or ill while you’re onboard and need to be airlifted off the ship?
There’s always a risk to travelling, even when you’re going on a cruise! But with the right cruise travel insurance policy you can ensure you have cover for a range of possible emergency expenses and situations.
To help you find the right cruise travel insurance, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to answer all your questions about travel insurance for your next cruise!
Table of Contents
- What is cruise travel insurance?
- Can I get cruise travel insurance?
- Who should consider buying cruise travel insurance?
- Is cruise travel insurance expensive?
- Which region does cruise cover come under?
- What if I'm only on a cruise for part of my trip?
- What if I only decide to take a cruise when I've already left?
- When shouldn't I buy cruise travel insurance?
- Am I covered for all activities on a cruise?
- What doesn't cruise travel insurance cover?
- Do I need cruise cover for a domestic cruise?
- Can I buy one travel insurance policy for multiple cruises?
- When should I buy cruise travel insurance?
- Will I need to pay for medical expenses on the cruise?
- What do I do in an emergency on a cruise?
What is cruise travel insurance?
Cruise travel insurance provides cover for many of the unexpected emergency situations you might experience while on a cruise.
You won’t often require cruise cover if you’re going on a river cruise, as this is most often automatically covered in travel insurance policies. However, you will most likely require a specialised cruise travel insurance policy if you’re taking a cruise on a sea or ocean.
Remember to always read the insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for their conditions on cruise cover.
Cruise travel insurance may provide you with:
1) Cover for unexpectedly having to cancel the cruise:
Cruises aren’t often cheap! If you become sick or injured, or a relative becomes unexpectedly sick or injured before you travel, you might find yourself having to cancel the cruise and at risk of losing your deposit.
Depending on your policy type and level of cover, travel insurance may cover your deposits and any other prepayments that you’ve already made, like onshore excursions and accommodation.
2) Cover for becoming sick or injured:
Sickness and injury on a cruise is not uncommon, and the cost to see an onboard doctor or to be airlifted off the boat is not cheap!
Travel insurance may cover the cost of unexpected emergency medical expenses if you slip and injure yourself on deck, or pick up a nasty virus while cruising on the ocean.
3) Emergency assistance:
If you’re sick or injured and not sure of what to do while you’re on your cruise, you can contact the emergency assistance team 24/7 and get advice.
If you’re at a port and require assistance onshore finding the closest hospital, emergency assistance can also help you do that, as well as manage your case with hospital staff, fly a relative to be with you, or even arrange to get you home if it’s needed.
For more detail on our policies and the benefits that Fast Cover can offer for your cruise holiday, take a look at What We Cover.
Can I get cruise travel insurance?
Most travellers should be able to find various travel insurance options that will provide cover for cruises. However, some insurers may apply restrictions to their policies which exclude individuals from cover.
Exclusions you may come across while comparing different travel insurance policies include:
1) Pre-existing medical conditions:
Depending on your travel insurance provider, some of the most common pre-existing medical conditions may be automatically covered. Examples include high blood pressure, diabetes and food intolerances. However, it's important to always check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to ensure your conditions are covered.
Other pre-existing medical conditions may not be covered at all, or may be covered by paying an additional premium.
In some cases, you may be excluded from medical cover altogether. For example, if you’re taking a prescribed blood-thinning medication such as Warfarin or Cartia. Check with your travel insurer if you take any prescription medication before purchasing a policy.
2) Age restrictions:
Some travel insurance companies may have a restriction on who they will cover according to age. They may provide cover to people up to the age of 70 or up to the age of 80. However, there are travel insurance policies out there that do provide cover for travellers of any age.
Who should consider buying cruise travel insurance?
Kids and their parents may get sick before or during the cruise, and no matter how well you plan the trip, accidents do happen.
Cover yourselves in case anyone of you becomes sick or injured – it won’t be fun anymore if someone is injured and isn’t covered for the expenses.
Be prepared and make sure you’re covered for medical emergencies, it can happen on-board and even when you’re on a shore excursion.
If one of you can’t travel due to illness, you’ll both be able to claim for cancellation costs if the other traveller doesn’t want to travel alone.
Travelling alone? Have a cruise travel insurance policy for peace of mind and backup.
Travellers on a long or expensive cruise:
Protect your investment in this holiday and make sure that if you’re not able to travel due to injury or sickness, you’re able to claim for the expenses.
Travellers cruising in domestic waters:
You’re not covered by Medicare once you board the ship, unless there’s a Medicare registered doctor on board.
Is cruise travel insurance expensive?
Cruise travel insurance usually only costs a little bit more than a standard travel insurance policy. Keep in mind the higher costs of medical care onboard cruise ships though, and it will make sense to take out a cruise travel insurance policy.
Do your research and compare the prices for a cruise travel insurance policy, but make sure you also check what the policy includes and what it excludes to find the best value travel insurance policy for your trip.
A family travel insurance policy may provide cover for parents and their kids, or grandparents and their grandchildren. There are various travel insurance policies that provide cover for dependants under the age of 21 free of additional charge, so keep an eye out for these policies.
Also, if you’re travelling as a group it doesn’t hurt to ask your chosen travel insurer for a discount!
Which region does cruise cover come under?
When you’re choosing a cruise travel insurance policy, you may have to select the highest level region to ensure you’re covered for all the destinations you’re travelling to during your cruise.
For example, with Fast Cover policies, if you are going on a cruise in Alaska, you would choose a Worldwide policy which also includes destinations the United States, Alaska and Canada. If you’re going on a cruise around Bali, you would choose the Pacific region.
If you’re unsure of which region to choose for your cruise, check with the travel insurance company.
What if I'm only on a cruise for part of my trip?
When you purchase travel insurance, cover for a cruise may already be included or you may need to purchase an 'add-on' for cruise cover.
When you have a cruise type of policy, you’ll also have cover for the land component of your trip. You can go on a cruise, take a land tour and go island hopping all on the same trip and be covered by the one travel insurance policy.
Always check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for the full terms and conditions of a policy.
What if I only decide to take a cruise when I've already left?
Get in contact with your travel insurance company before you embark on your cruise to check if you’re already covered under your current policy.
If you’re not, you may be able to add cruise cover to your existing policy by paying the difference in price or an additional premium.
Remember to contact your travel insurer about adding on cruise cover before you embark on your cruise to ensure you're adequately covered.
When shouldn't I buy cruise travel insurance?
You may not require a travel insurance policy that covers you for a cruise if:
- You’re going on a river cruise.
- You are going on a small day cruise on a bay, such as Halong Bay in Vietnam.
- You’re going island hopping in Bali on a small boat.
- You’re going on a cruise ship for a few short hours.
- You’re taking a short one hour ferry ride to an island.
Check the Product Disclosure Statement to get the full details of cruise cover and to check if it applies to your trip.
Am I covered for all activities on a cruise?
Cruises aren’t just all about the facilities and entertainment available onboard. You may also have the opportunity to go off-shore and go scuba diving, kayaking and trekking in the jungle.
However, these activities may not automatically be included in travel insurance or may have additional requirements, so check the insurer's PDS to be sure.
It’s best to ask your travel insurance company regarding the type of activities you’re covered for. Some companies may allow you to add on extra cover for the more adventurous activities you may be contemplating.
What doesn't cruise travel insurance cover?
Cruise cover is an add-on to your policy, so the same inclusions and exclusions apply whether you’re on land or on the boat. However, there are cruise specific events that aren’t usually covered by cruise travel insurance. These include:
1) Cabin confinement:
If a virus outbreak occurs on board, the Captain may ask that passengers stay in their cabins for the wellbeing of everyone. Passengers wouldn’t be able to claim for missing out on enjoying the boat’s facilities.
2) Change of itinerary:
Missing a scheduled port or changing ports due to bad weather or other reasons is also not something travellers can usually claim for. You may, however, be able to claim for the cost of a booked onshore excursion that you couldn’t take at the missed port.
Do I need cruise cover for a domestic cruise?
Yes, you do.
Many Australian travellers mistakenly believe that they’re automatically covered by Medicare if they’re just going to be travelling in Australian waters. What they don’t realise is that they’ll only be able to use their Medicare card if there’s a Medicare registered doctor onboard the cruise ship.
In most cases there won’t be because the majority of cruise ships are owned by American companies and it’s unlikely that they would have Australian doctors onboard. This means that once your cruise leaves port you won’t have cover from Medicare.
If you get sick or injured on the cruise ship and seek medical attention, you’ll be charged at private rates. That’s why when you go on a cruise, even one in domestic waters, you’ll find that cruise travel insurance will offer medical cover, including the cost of emergency repatriation should you need to be flown from the cruise ship by helicopter in an emergency.
Can I buy one travel insurance policy for multiple cruises?
You may have the option of purchasing what's known as a multi-trip travel insurance policy. These policies may automatically include cover for cruises, although you should always check the Product Disclosure Statement to be sure.
Be aware that there may be age restrictions on multi-trip policies. However, if you’re able to purchase this type of policy, you may get a better deal on travel insurance for multiple cruises over a year than if you purchase single policies for each trip.
When should I buy cruise travel insurance?
You can purchase cruise travel insurance up to the day you leave port. However, if you do this you might be missing out on the benefit of cancellation cover.
Cancellation cover provides cover for the deposits made towards your holiday, including the deposit you would have to pay in advance for your cruise.
If you purchase travel insurance with cancellation cover, you may be able to claim for your lost deposits if you, your travelling companion, or a relative, gets unexpectedly sick or injured before your trip and you can no longer travel.
You can usually purchase travel insurance with cancellation cover up to 12 months before your cruise departure date. Consider purchasing travel insurance as soon as you’ve paid your deposits just in case you have to unexpectedly cancel.
Will I need to pay for medical expenses on the cruise?
Travel insurance may provide cover for medical emergencies you experience while on board a cruise.
If you need to see a doctor onboard, you’ll most likely have to pay the consultation fee and for any medications or treatment that you require upfront. You can then make a claim with your travel insurer to be reimbursed for these costs.
However, for large medical expenses over $2,000, for example which may happen if you have to be medically evacuated from the cruise ship, your travel insurance company may act as a guarantor of payment.
What do I do in an emergency on a cruise?
1) Tell someone you need help
If you’re feeling unwell or you become injured, seek help from the staff onboard the cruise. If something of yours is stolen or lost, inform the cruise staff and get a written report from them.
2) Contact your travel insurance emergency assistance
As soon as possible, get in contact with your travel insurance company’s emergency assistance team and let them know what’s going on. They’ll be able to advise you on what you need to do, and coordinate an emergency medical evacuation if you need to be airlifted off the ship.
If you leave the boat, or organise your own emergency support without the approval of the travel insurance emergency assistance team, you may not be able to claim for the expenses you’ve incurred.
3) Keep all documentation
If you go to a hospital or doctor overseas, get copies of all invoices and medical reports. Similarly, if you make a report for lost or stolen property, keep the report. Documentation will help your travel insurer process your claim faster.