Cruise insurance is a specific type of policy that covers you while you're on a cruise holiday. In addition to what a normal policy covers, a cruise policy can cover specific cruise-related issues such as seasickness or gastroenteritis onboard, medical evacuations, missed port departures and more.
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If you're going on a domestic cruise, keep in mind that most insurers ask you to select New Zealand, Fiji or the South Pacific Islands as your destination so you can get medical cover included in your policy while cruising.
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Why get cruise cover?
In 2017, we conducted a survey to find out the number one fear that would stop Australians taking a cruise holiday. The survey uncovered eleven reasons why Aussies avoid going on cruises and interestingly enough, travel insurance would actually cover the majority of the reasons such as getting sick onboard or needing to be evacuated from the ship.
Cast away your fears and get cruise travel insurance for peace-of-mind.
Getting food poisoning or gastro
Getting sick or injured and having to be airlifted to hospital
The ship sinking/running ashore
Not being able to get off the boat
Hitting an iceberg
The cruise leaving without me
Source: finder.com.au survey, May 2017
Domestic cruise travel insurance
Getting cover for your cruise in Australia is easy as long as you know what to look out for. Cruise providers insist you have enough medical cover with your travel insurance before you can board the ship. Since medical cover is not usually included in domestic travel insurance policies, you need to get an international policy instead.
Medicare will only cover you for medical assistance if;
You are cruising between domestic ports. Even if your ship is in Australian waters, you're not eligible if the ship departed from an international port.
If you are treated by a Medicare-approved doctor. Not all cruise-liners will have Medicare-approved doctors available onboard.
When cruising domestically, most insurers will prompt you to select the Pacific Region - this will usually include New Zealand, Bali, the South West Pacific and Norfolk Region. If you're still unsure what region to select for your domestic cruise, check out your insurers product disclosure statement (PDS) for confirmation.
We spoke with Craig Morison, the Chief Operating Officer for Fast Cover, and he revealed just how often cruise insurance has been utilised by Fast Cover customers.
In 2016, Carol and Vincent, a couple in their seventies from Brisbane, were getting ready to depart on a worldwide cruise. Unfortunately, in the week before they were meant to depart, Carol fell over in their yard and broke her ankle, which meant they would have to cancel their holiday. Because they had taken out a travel insurance policy that covered cancellation, for which they'd paid less than $800, they were able to be reimbursed for more than $20,000 worth of lost deposits.
Best cruise travel insurance
If you're after the best cruise travel insurance, then you want a policy with the most benefits. Cruising comes with its own set of risks, so getting a policy with a lot of cruising benefits will help safeguard you from unexpected mishaps. Here's a list of benefits you want to have if you're looking for the best cruise travel insurance.
Onboard medical treatment. Sea sickness and gastroenteritis are common illnesses while cruising. This benefit will cover you for treatment, but also for any other major health concerns that happen while you're onboard.
Emergency evacuation for medical assistance. This benefit will get you off the ship and to a hospital or medical facility if a medical practitioner deems this necessary. While you're at sea, that usually means by helicopter.
Cruise delay. Cover for additional expenses like meals and accommodation if your departure from a port is delayed due to circumstances outside of your control.
Missed port. Cover for your expenses if the cruise ship doesn't stop at a port due to reasons outside of your control such as bad weather or a mechanical break down.
Pre-paid shore excursions. This benefit covers you for the cancellation fees or loss of deposits if you've had to pre-pay for shore excursions and forced to cancel the activity.
Missed cruise departure. Cover up to a certain amount if you missed the scheduled departure of your cruise due to issues with your transportation to the port or natural disaster.
Lost, stolen or damaged baggage. Protects the value of your belongings before boarding or onboard.
Cabin confinement/ loss of enjoyment. Get a daily allowance if you suffer an injury or illness onboard and are forced to stay within your cabin for more than 48hrs.
Formal cruise attire lost, stolen or damaged. Covers the costs of repairing or replacing your formal clothes if it is lost, stolen or damaged on board.
Formal cruise attire delayed. This benefit covers the reasonable amount if your formal clothes are delayed or misdirected and you need to purchase or hire formal wear.
Marine rescue diversion. Cover if your ship is redirected to assist in a marine rescue.
If you're traveling on a budget and need an affordable policy, getting cheap cruise travel insurance is possible but you might have to sacrifice a few benefits. The most important thing is to have cover for medical treatments and emergency evacuation, anything on top of that is a bonus.
The table below shows how the cheapest policies usually cover medical and emergency assistance only on cruises. It also shows the price difference between the cheapest, and paying a bit more money to get a policy that has more features for your cruise. This table was priced on the 22nd September 2019 and is based on a 30 year old going on a South Pacific cruise for 14 days, with a standard excess of $200.
Onboard medical assistance
Pre-paid shore excursions
Missed cruise departure
Lost, stolen or damaged baggage
Cabin confinement/ loss of enjoyment
Formal cruise attire lost, stolen or damaged
Formal cruise attire delayed
Marine rescue diversion
If you're only after medical and emergency assistance onboard, then our cheaper policies could be suitable for your trip. If you want value then it could be worth comparing your options and spending the extra dollars for way more coverage.
You don't need separate policies, but you do need to tell your insurer every place you will be visiting by sea or by land. This helps them work out an appropriate quote.
Most travel and cruise insurance policies provide automatic cover for stopovers of up to 48 hours.
In short, yes. Cruise travel insurance covers your medical expenses while onboard. It can also give you an allowance if you're confined to your cabin due to your sickness.
You will still need cruise insurance, but technically only for the length of the cruise. However, it can be tricky to find a single policy that lets you split your cruise and non-cruise portions. Here are your best options:
Stick with a cruise policy for the whole trip. Remember, cruise insurance covers you on and off land, and you may find that this option is not much more expensive than a normal policy anyway.
Double up by getting a standard policy and a cruise policy. If you're only out to sea for a couple of days, you might consider buying cruise insurance on top of the normal travel insurance that's covering the rest of your trip. You'll be paying twice, but hey, if you save a few bucks, you're still ahead. Just remember you won't be able to make the same claim on both policies.
Work out an arrangement with the insurer. If you don't want to double up or pay for cruise insurance when you won't be using it, try contacting an insurer and see if they can create a custom policy for you.
Since river cruises aren't on the ocean, you're not required to have cruise insurance whether you are overseas or in Australia. Getting you to dry land for medical treatment is not nearly as complicated from a riverboat, so insurers don't need to charge you extra.
However, some cruise insurance policies offer you a few extra benefits that you might find useful on a river cruise. These include cabin confinement cover that pays you a little consolation money each day you are confined to your cabin with a contagious illness, and formal attire cover that will pay to repair or replace your formal attire if it is lost, damaged or stolen.
Many insurers will cover you on a small boat up to a certain distance from shore (usually 10-12km) even without the optional cruise cover. If you go beyond this, you'll need cruise insurance no matter what kind of boat you are on or whether you are in Australia or overseas.
But you have to remember that domestic policies and international policies are built differently: domestic policies don't include medical cover while international policies do. This is a huge difference and it means you should strongly consider cruise cover in certain situations (as you'll see below), even if you are within 10-12km from shore.
As a side note, if you will be scuba diving in Australia or overseas, it is likely that you will also need to purchase additional cover for adventure sports generally or scuba diving specifically. Just like cruise insurance, most policies do not cover this automatically.
Pre-existing medical conditions don't impact on your ability to get covered for your cruise. If the insurer covers your pre-existing conditions, you should be able to get cover for cruising as well.
Not necessarily, so check the fine print. You may need to purchase an additional adventure sports pack to make sure you have the cover you need.
Jessica Prasida is a graduate publisher for travel insurance at Finder. She has a Bachelor of Business and four years of experience in the travel industry, where she learned about the importance of travel insurance. Jess is currently studying a Masters of Marketing at the University of Technology in Sydney. In her spare time, she eats, and travels the world.
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