Lifebuoy on its stand in the tropics

P & O Cruise Travel Insurance

Got an upcoming trip with P and O Cruises? Make sure you pack your travel insurance.

Australia’s largest and oldest cruise operator, P&O Cruises offers trips to exciting and exotic destinations around Australia, the Pacific, Asia and Papua New Guinea. With five ships operating out of eight Australian home ports, there are many opportunities for exploration.

However, before you embark on any cruise holiday, it’s vital that you take out a travel insurance policy designed for cruising. Cruise travel insurance offers financial protection against all the risks you’d expect from a normal travel insurance policy as well as a range of cruise-specific risks such as offshore medical expenses, ship to shore evacuation and cancelled shore excursions.

In comparison to some other cruise lines, P&O does not offer their own travel insurance cover and strongly recommends that you take out adequate travel insurance whenever you book and pay for a P&O Cruises itinerary. Read on to find out how you can find the right cruise travel insurance policy for your trip.

Why do I need travel insurance for my P & O cruise?

  • No medicare cover: When you consider the things that could potentially go wrong during a holiday, overseas medical emergencies easily represent the most expensive risk. But what very few cruise travellers realise is that Australia’s Medicare system does not provide any cover for medical expenses incurred on board a cruise ship, even if you’re cruising in Australian waters. Learn more about the importance of getting cover for Australian cruises here.
  • No private health cover: Your private health insurance also stops covering you once you leave port, so any consultations, treatment or medications you receive on board will either need to be paid by you or covered by your travel insurance.
  • No cover offered by P&O: While some cruise lines around the world will offer to sell you their own cruise travel insurance policies, P&O does not offer this option. Accidents and illness can strike at any time, and medical and hospital bills on board a cruise ship can set you back more than $5,000 a day.

With this in mind, international travel insurance that covers emergency medical expenses is the first thing you should pack for your cruise.

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Will P & O reimburse me if I have to cancel my cruise?

Sometimes, disaster can strike at the most inopportune time and throw your travel plans into disarray. For example, what happens if your mum falls seriously ill just a few days before your cruise departs and you are forced to cancel your trip?

Under P&O’s booking terms and conditions, the refund you are eligible to receive and the cancellation charge that applies varies depending on the amount of notice you give before the cruise departs:

  • If you notify P&O of your cancellation 181 days or more prior to cruise departure, no cancellation charges apply and you will receive a full refund.
  • If you notify P&O between 180 and 76 days before departure, you will be charged a cancellation fee equal to your deposit amount.
  • If you notify P&O between 75 and 43 days before departure, the cancellation charge is 25% of the total fare.
  • If you notify P&O between 42 and 15 days before departure, the cancellation charge is 50% of the total fare.
  • If you notify P&O 14 days or less before your cruise is due to depart, you’ll be charged 100% of the total fare.

However, if you have travel insurance, you’ll be covered for cancellation fees and lost deposits when unforeseen circumstances beyond your control force you to cancel your holiday before you leave home.

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Where do I stand if my cruise itinerary is changed?

Another common problem experienced by cruise travellers is an unexpected change to their cruise itinerary. For example, you may be eagerly awaiting the day the cruise ship docks at a particular tropical paradise in the Pacific, but the ship is suddenly plagued by mechanical difficulties and is unable to make it to the planned destination. So what would happen in this situation?

Unfortunately, P & O quite clearly explains in its booking terms and conditions that itineraries are not guaranteed and do not form part of your contract with the cruise line. While P & O will always take reasonable steps to ensure that it provides a cruise in line with its published schedules and itineraries, this is not always possible. Mechanical breakdowns, inclement weather, civil unrest and a range of other unforeseen circumstances can result in changes to your itinerary. Unless you have cruise travel insurance in place, you will not be covered for any such disruptions.

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So what can cruise travel insurance actually cover me for?

  • If you have a medical emergency on board. The private medical treatment you receive on a cruise ship does not come cheap. Travel insurance covers the cost of your medical and hospital expenses while you’re on board the ship.
  • If you need to be evacuated. In some cases, your medical condition may be too serious or complicated to be treated on board the ship. When this happens, travel insurance covers the cost of evacuating you to an appropriate medical facility on land.
  • Trip delays and interruptions. Bad weather, mechanical difficulties and civil unrest at overseas ports can cause your cruise to be delayed or interrupted. When this occurs, cruise travel insurance allows you to recoup any additional expenses you incur due to the trip delay and also reimburses you for any money you lose due to cancelled shore excursions.
  • Trip cancellations due to unexpected events. This benefit ensures that you are covered when unforeseen circumstances beyond your control force you to cancel your trip, such as a family member being struck down by a serious illness before you depart. Cruise travel insurance covers any resulting cancellation fees and lost deposits. Learn more about cancellation travel insurance here.
  • Loss, theft or damage of luggage and personal belongings. If your luggage and personal items are lost, stolen or damaged during your trip, cruise travel insurance covers their repair or replacement costs.
  • Cabin confinement due to injury or illness. Cruise travel insurance offers a daily allowance if you are confined to your cabin for medical reasons during a cruise.
  • If you miss your cruise. If circumstances beyond your control, such as bad weather that delays your flight, forces you to miss the departure of your cruise, you’ll be covered for the additional expenses you incur to join the cruise after it has departed.
  • If something happens to your formal wear. If your formal cruise attire is lost, stolen or damaged, you’ll be covered for replacement or hire costs.
  • If you get in some legal trouble. You can also take advantage of personal liability cover if you are responsible for causing property damage or bodily injury to someone else.

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William Eve

Will is a personal finance writer for finder.com.au specialising in content on insurance. While he cannot give personal advice to clients, Will enjoys explaining the intricacies of different types of protective cover to help individuals and businesses find affordable cover that won't leave them underinsured.

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