Exotic ports of call, resplendent cruise ships, vacationing with all the bells and whistles – finally! Traveling the world in a beautiful cruise ship with a well-appointed room and a constantly changing views can be very exciting.
This dream vacation could turn into more of an adventure than you planned, however, if you discover you are not protected against the unexpected and sometimes unpleasant things that can occur while traveling by cruise ship.
What many travelers do not realize is that all cruise ships are considered foreign entities operating outside their country of registry, and your current domestic medical coverage does not travel outside your country of origin — even if you are traveling on a ship registered with your own country of origin. This means that if you are an
American citizen traveling on a cruise ship registered with the United States, your regular medical coverage will, in most cases, fail to extend to travel at sea. Unfortunately, this means that without travel insurance, you will have to pay for your emergency medical treatment expenses up front if you become ill and require even minor medical attention.
Most of the larger cruise ships have on-board medical staff and treatment facilities, but many of the smaller ships do not, and if you become very ill while on board, an emergency evacuation may be your only course of action. Again, these costs will be borne by you without proper traveler’s coverage.
Caution for U.S. Seniors: Medicare beneficiaries should always purchase travel insurance when they cruise, because they do not have medical coverage outside the country.
Let’s help you choose a travel insurance policy first, and then don’t forget to pack the hand sanitizer!
Top Three Cruise Travel Plans
||Company and Details
|Widest coverage||The AIG Travel Guard travel insurance plans offer the widest coverage, providing
coverage for military personnel who are unexpectedly deployed, restoration for
identity theft, protection for credit cards and travel documents, plus
concierge and travel assistance services. Depending on the options you
need, the AIG travel plans offer a wide variety of included and
optional benefits to ensure your cruise adventure is worry-free.
|Most plans with the greatest number of benefits||The Travel Insured International plans offer a large number of optional
benefits to customize their many travel plans, including sports
coverage, ‘cancel for any reason’, ‘cancel for work reasons’, medical
upgrades, and more. Plus, kids are free with most of their plans, so
your cruise travel insurance may cost less than you expect.
|Best options for solo travelers||The TravelSafe Insurance plans offer the most comprehensive coverage for
solo cruise travelers, including all the basic benefits plus 24-hour
travel assistance and the ‘Cancel for any reason’ benefit as an
optional benefit. When you are traveling on your own, it’s a great idea
to have comprehensive coverage so you don’t have to worry what may
happen during your adventure.
Common concerns for cruise travelers
It can certainly be tempting to skip the travel insurance. How many times have you returned safely from a trip and kicked yourself for spending the extra bucks to insure against some wild calamity that never happened? (We hope this happens to you often, actually.) It just takes one time and a single (even small) occurrence to cause very expensive, sometimes long-term, financial harm to you and your family. Besides, let’s face it, cruise traveling is special in several regards – it includes sometimes close contact with a wide number of people, it takes you to exotic locations where exposure to harmful agents may be possible, and it puts you in new circumstances of all kinds.
Some of the common concerns for cruise travelers are:
- Arriving on time for departure only to discover the cruise line has gone bankrupt, leaving you holding useless tickets with nowhere to go
- Catching a norovirus, a highly contagious gastrointestinal illness and becoming violently ill
- Losing your luggage and being stuck on a ship without the clothing and personal items you so carefully chose and packed
- Arriving late to the embarkation point and watching from the pier as your ship sails away … without you
- Getting robbed on board or on an excursion into port
- Losing your travel documents while exploring a long-planned ruin
Caution: Starting June 1, 2009, travelers entering the United States on a cruise will be required to present a passport or other recognized identification document. The new requirement was established by the U.S. Government during a final ruling on travel documents for land and sea boarders. The initiative calls for travelers to present a passport or other approved secure document denoting citizenship and identify for all land and sea travel into the country.
Choosing the right cruise insurance
Many cruise lines have been getting into the travel insurance business and offering travel insurance packages that can be purchased when you book your cruise. There are also many independent insurance companies that offer coverage that can be purchased — typically within 10 or 15 days of your initial trip deposit — but there are some important points to understand before you choose your travel plan.
Most independent cruise travel insurance plans cover the following types of problems:
- trip cancellation or interruption
- trip delays
- emergency medical expenses
- emergency medical evacuation
- lost or stolen baggage
There are a few key differences between travel insurance policies offered by the cruise line and those offered by independent insurance companies, however:
- Travel policies offered by the cruise lines typically do not insure against financial default, travel delays, or complete cessation of their own operations. Independent insurers usually cover these events.
- Travel policies offered by the cruise lines typically cover only those parts of the trip purchased directly from the cruise line. So, if your wallet is stolen in the market while you are exploring a port, the travel policy purchased through your cruise line will probably be of no use to you.
- Therefore, it is best to purchase a travel insurance policy separate from the travel provider if only to avoid conflict of interest.
Steps to follow to ensure you are covered while cruising
The key to ensuring that you are protected while cruising is:
- Know where you are going and the risks associated with traveling in that part of the world.
- Know what activities you are likely to engage in while you are cruising.
- Check the policy carefully to be sure that the risks and activities are covered.
Purchasing your plan within the required number of days of the initial trip deposit sometimes ensures you receive the following extra benefits, such as a waiver for pre-existing conditions or financial insolvency of the travel provider. These may be valuable benefits, so shop for your insurance while you shop for your cruise deal.
Cruise Coverage Matrix
The following table lists the providers who offer comprehensive coverage for cruisers. While we recognize that you consider a medical-only travel insurance policy, events such as missed connections, hurricanes, or stolen luggage will not be covered with a policy of that type. This matrix assumes you want complete cruise travel coverage and not just medical coverage, so we’ve included only those companies and plans that are specific to protecting cruise travelers.
In addition, as a cruise traveler, it is important to consider the types of activities offered by the cruise company and ensure that coverage is in place if you plan to participate in those more adventurous activities, such as scuba diving or surfing. This way, even if you skin your knee while trying wave boarding for the first time, you can be assured of some basic medical treatment without the overloaded expense.
||The optional ‘Cancel for any reason’ benefit can be purchased to insure against truly unexpected events.
Optional coverage for adventure sports is available with the My TravelGuard plan.
Kids are free with the ProtectAssist Gold plan.
||Pay your premium within 15 days of your trip deposit and get:
|Mondial Travel Insurance||
||Hurricane protection can be purchased as an optional benefit.
In addition, sports equipment and business equipment can be covered.
Kids are covered free if under age 17!
|HTH Travel Insurance||
your plan within 24 hours of your final trip payment and financial
insolvency of your travel supplier is covered, and pre-existing
conditions are waived.
|International Medical Group Insurance||
||Children under 16 are covered at no additional cost if accompanied by an adult family member.
Travel assistance and concierge services are also included.
|These plans have maximum trip durations of 31 and 180 days, respectively.
addition, the policy must be purchased within 15 days of the initial
trip deposit for the financial insolvency and pre-existing conditions
to be covered.
|Travel Insurance Services||
line financial insolvency problems are only covered if you purchase the
Elite or Plus plan within 21 or 15 days of your initial trip deposit,
|Travel Insured International||
||The optional ‘Cancel for any reason’ benefit can be purchased with these plans.
The optional ‘Cancel for work reason’ benefit can be purchased with the Worldwide Trip Protector Gold plan.
The optional medical upgrade can be purchased with the Worldwide Trip Protector Gold plan.
Optional sports coverage is available with all plans.
Kids are free with these plans as well.
||24-hour travelers assistance is included with all of these plans.|