Most travelers who are taking a cruise are primarily interested in insuring the cost of the trip, especially if it is booked far in advance or is an otherwise expensive trip. Trip Cancellation coverage can provide reimbursement if a covered event prevents them from traveling as planned.
Travelers can insure the cost of the cruise, any prepaid expenses that are non-refundable, such as meal and beverage packages, excursions, and onboard entertainment, as well as airline tickets, lodging, and any other travel expenses related to the trip.
Comprehensive policies typically include a handful of other benefits that can be helpful for cruises who have to travel to their ports of call, to include Travel Delay, Baggage and Missed Connection coverage.
Receiving medical care while cruising can be an especially high expense that many travelers are unaware of. In the event an evacuation is needed, either from the cruise ship or a port on their itinerary, these costs can quickly become significantly higher.
Because many health insurance providers do not extend coverage outside of the country, cruisers often opt for a travel insurance policy with Emergency Medical and Medical Evacuation benefits. Certain policies can also include coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions.
Comprehensive policies can also offer related benefits that may be applicable to cruisers, such as Trip Interruption coverage, for example, if an illness causes the traveler to miss a prepaid excursion, as well as coverage for adventurous sports or activities popular at many cruise ports.
Travel insurance with Trip Cancellation coverage can protect a traveler’s investment if they are unable to travel for one of the policy’s listed reasons. Travelers buying insurance for a cruise can insure all expenses associated with the trip. This can include any pre-paid and nonrefundable costs, such as excursions, on-board events and entertainment, food and beverage plans, and other services.
A comprehensive travel insurance policy can include benefits that can help travelers who are inconvenienced on the way to their port of departure. Travel Delay and Missed Connection benefits can provide reimbursement if a traveler’s flight is delayed en route to their port, as well as reimbursement to catch them up to their cruise if the delay causes them to miss a leg of their trip.
Cruisers may want the ability to cancel their trip for reasons not covered by a standard policy, to include a cruise itinerary change or poor weather forecast. Cruise insurance with Cancel For Any Reason can offer the most flexibility, allowing the traveler to cancel for these or other reasons and receive up to 75% reimbursement of their prepaid expenses. This upgrade is time sensitive and increases the premium by around 40%.
Some cruise lines may require a negative Covid-19 test prior to embarkation. Most travel insurance policies cover canceling due to contracting Covid-19 prior to a trip, and can provide reimbursement for the entire trip, or remaining expenses, should a traveler receive a positive Covid-19 test and be unable to continue their trip as planned. Cruisers can search for a cruise travel insurance policy that covers contracting Covid-19 here.
Caribbean countries are popular cruise destinations, especially during the summer hurricane season. Most insurance policies can provide cancellation coverage if inclement weather impacts a trip. Specifically, the traveler must be prevented from reaching the cruise port, it is uninhabitable, or they are delayed en route. Canceling due to a change of itinerary related to weather is not a covered event on most plans.
Most primary health insurance plans do not provide coverage abroad. Receiving medical care on a cruise can be an expensive unplanned cost, especially if it requires an evacuation from the ship or port. Insurance plans with Emergency Medical and Medical Evacuation benefits can cover illnesses or injuries that occur during the trip. When buying travel insurance for a cruise, Squaremouth recommends at least $100,000 in medical and $250,000 in medical evacuation benefits.
Most travel insurance providers cover Covid-19 like any other unexpected illness. Travelers who contract Covid-19 while on a cruise may also be quarantined to their room, causing them to miss prepaid portions of their trip. Cruise insurance can cover medical expenses associated with the diagnosis and treatment of Covid-19, as well as reimbursement for prepaid portions of the trip, such as excursions or events that were missed.
Unplanned illnesses, injuries or weather can interrupt a cruise, causing a traveler to forgo all or some of their trip expenses. Trip Interruption coverage is a post-departure benefit that provides reimbursement once the cruise or trip has started. This can include reimbursement for the cost of the cruise if weather prevents its departure, or the cost of excursions if the cruiser is ill and unable to attend, among other reasons.
Comprehensive travel insurance can include reimbursement for luggage that is lost by the cruise line, or an airline taken en route to the port. Baggage Loss and Baggage Delay benefits can provide reimbursement, up to the policy limit, to replace the cost of the lost items, or to purchase necessary items until the baggage is returned to the cruiser. Most policies have a specific max that can be claimed per item.
Some cruisers plan to partake in adventurous excursions, including snorkeling, surfing, scuba diving, and other water activities. Some travel insurance plans provide specific coverage for these types of activities, most notably, medical benefits if the traveler is hurt. These plans may also reimburse the traveler if related equipment is lost or damaged. Travelers can search for a cruise insurance policy that covers sports here.
Squaremouth ranks the 10 best travel insurance companies for cruises based on policies sold.
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Squaremouth shares their tips and recommendations based on the most
frequently asked questions from cruisers.
Selecting the best cruise insurance policy can mean saving thousands of dollars. The best policies will have comprehensive benefits for cancellations and medical emergencies, in addition to other coverage. This includes:
Trip Cancellation: This benefit can reimburse a traveler's prepaid and non-refundable trip expenses, including their airfare, cruise, excursions, and tours.
Hurricane & Weather: Most policies with Trip Cancellation coverage include built-in coverage for Hurricane & Weather.
Emergency Medical: Because of the increased cost of treating routine medical conditions onboard, Squaremouth recommends travelers cruisers buy a policy with at least $100,000 in Emergency Medical.
Medical Evacuation: Due to the potential for an evacuation from the ship, cruisers should buy a policy with at least $250,000 in Medical Evacuation coverage.
In addition to coverage for cancellations and medical emergencies, the best policies will also include benefits for travel delay, missed connections, and luggage, among others. Select policies also include Itinerary Change coverage, which can reimburse travelers for missed events if their travel supplier changes their itinerary.
Travelers have the option to buy travel insurance up until the day before they leave for their cruise. However, Squaremouth recommends buying a policy sooner rather than later, as benefits are only available for unexpected events that impact your trip. For example, if a traveler is planning a cruise in the Caribbean and a hurricane is in the forecast, it would be too late to buy a policy for that storm.
Tip for Cruisers: Determine if you need Cancel For Any Reason or Pre-Existing Condition coverage. These are time-sensitive benefits that are only available within 10-21 days of your initial trip booking. This would be the first payment towards your trip, such as a cruise down payment.
In general, the average policy with Trip Cancellation coverage will cost between 5% and 10% of a traveler’s total trip cost. The primary factors that determine the cost of a policy are the trip cost, the length of the trip, the age of the travelers, and the coverage amounts. Travelers who choose not to insure their trip cost can expect their policy to be less expensive.
Tip for Cruisers: Check in advance to see if your cruise line will provide a refund or voucher if you cancel. If they will, you can forgo insuring the cost of the cruise. A medical travel insurance policy will be less expensive.
While cruise lines typically offer customers the option to opt-in to their insurance, these policies are often limited, and only cover expenses purchased directly through the cruise line. For this reason, Squaremouth always recommends shopping around and comparing policies from multiple sources to find the most comprehensive coverage for your trip for the lowest possible price. This can include a comparison site like Squaremouth.com, a travel insurance provider, or directly from the cruise line.
Tip for Cruisers: Travel insurance isn’t a one-stop-shop, and cruisers especially have many options. Determine which benefits are most important to you, and select the policy with the most coverage within those benefits for the best price.
Cruisers have the option to insure all, some, or none of their trip expenses when booking a cruise. Squaremouth recommends travelers insurance all of their non-refundable deposits. This can include cruise expenses, such as a down payment and excursions, as well as travel expenses in addition to the cruise, such as airfare and hotel accommodations.
Tip for Cruisers: Only insure the amount you would lose if you cancel. For example, if you only have to put down a deposit up front, you can choose to insure the deposit amount and add to it as you make additional payments closer to your departure date.
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