Cruise Insurance Buyer’s Guide

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Technically, cruise insurance is not a legal requirement. But it is still essential – to the point that some cruise lines make it their policy to refuse boarding if you can’t prove you have travel insurance in place.

And that’s understandable because, if something does go wrong on a cruise, you could incur huge expenses.

Travel insurance can sometimes be expensive, but it’s not a patch on how much you could be financially ruined by something going awry at sea if you aren’t covered by a suitable policy.

In this guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know about buying cruise insurance – what it covers, what you may need to pay extra for, and the typical costs to expect.

Note: The information in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute financial advice. Please refer to the particular terms and conditions of your insurer before committing.

My Recommendation

My recommendation for cruise insurance depends on where you live.

These are trusted price comparison sites that will quickly get you lots of quotes to match your exact needs.

Using a price comparison site is good because there is no single insurance company that will always offer the best prices, or the best coverage. It’ll depend on where you’re sailing, your medical conditions, your age, and other factors.

I’d rather recommend a comparison site so that you can get a range of quotes and find the one that best fits your needs, including coverage for some of the extras that you might want to add on to your policy.

If you live outside the UK or USA, look for a cruise insurance comparison site relevant to you. Don’t just pick a single provider and assume they’re the best because your friend got a good deal with them.

What Cruise Travel Insurance Covers

Here’s what your insurance will typically cover:

1. Cancellation

Cruise insurance covers you if your cruise has to be cancelled, provided it’s with good reason. If the cruise line cancels the cruise and refunds you, then your insurance won’t need to pay out.

But, if the cruise line cancelled and, for some reason, your fare couldn’t be refunded, or the airline cancelled and left you unable to reach the ship, you’d typically be covered. You’ll also be covered if you have to cancel your cruise for good reason, such as a medical emergency before sailing.

Your insurance won’t automatically cover you for the full cost of your cruise. The most basic policies might only offer up to £1,000 or $1,000 of cover. So if your cruise cost £2,500 in total, you’d need to decide whether you’re happy only getting part of it back, or if you want to pay more for a more comprehensive policy.

a woman in the cruise terminal whose cruise has been cancelled

2. Emergency Medical Expenses

The other big reason to take out cruise insurance is in case of any emergency medical costs while you’re sailing, either on the ship or while visiting ports abroad.

Even if you’re cruising somewhere where you already get healthcare – for example through the UK Global Health Insurance Card, or via your private medical insurance if you’re a US resident – you’ll still want insurance to cover anything at sea or any conditions/emergencies outside your regular policy.

Note that you won’t be covered for medical expenses related to any pre-existing conditions you failed to declare when you took out the policy.

Most cruise insurance policies will have extensive medical cost cover, at least six figures and often into the £1 million + bracket. Always check though – never assume.

The medical Centre on a cruise ship

3. Repatriation

If your medical emergency happens while at sea or in another country, cruise insurance will typically cover repatriation costs to get you home, as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Depending on the urgency of your situation and the suitability of the hospital you’re in for treatment, your repatriation might be delayed if it’s safe to stay put, and more cost-effective.

helicopter approaching a cruise ship.

4. Cruise Interruption

If, during your cruise, you need to attend a local hospital but you’re then deemed fit and well enough to resume your cruise, most cruise insurance policies will cover the travel costs involved to get you back to the ship.

5. Baggage

Cruise insurance will also usually cover your luggage in the event of it going missing, being stolen or being damaged during your cruise or your travel to/from the ship.

luggage on a cruise ship.

Those are the key things that are normally included in a cruise travel insurance policy, but it’s always important to read the terms and conditions of your chosen provider as they can vary.

What Happens If You Cruise Without Insurance…

Cruising without insurance is simply not a risk worth taking.

Because it’s so potentially dangerous, some cruise lines will outright ban you from sailing if you don’t have insurance. Most don’t check, but P&O Cruises in the UK is renowned for its policy of checking, and if you don’t have insurance, the cruise line won’t let you board the ship and you won’t get a refund, since you will have been deemed to have broken the contract.

If you don’t have insurance, you could face extreme bills for your medical cover – into the hundreds of thousands of £s or $s in some cases, particularly if you have to be airlifted from the ship.

emergency phone on P&O Azura

Several people have found themselves stranded while needing medical treatment, facing bills well into five figures…

Read more: 8 Horror Stories From Cruisers Who Had No Insurance

It’s not just about making sure you have cruise insurance either, but making sure it covers everything you need it to, and that it’s valid.

The easiest way to invalidate your cruise insurance is to ignore pre-existing medical conditions you have, or to avoid mentioning which destination(s) you’re cruising to.

Both of these factors will influence the policy, and yes certain conditions or destinations might raise the price you pay.

But it’s better to pay a little more upfront and still have cover, than to find out your trick to save money actually leaves you unable to make a claim.

How Much Cruise Insurance Costs

There’s never going to be a set price for how much cruise insurance costs. It depends on many different factors, including your age, any pre-existing medical conditions you have, your destination/length of the cruise, and who you’re buying insurance for.

I’ve run some example quotes to give you an idea of how the different factors change the price of your cruise. These are all in GBP but you’ll find that USD prices are typically equivalent.

These are only a snapshot of options, and this isn’t meant to be a reference guide – but it illustrates the price differences you might need to expect. For the average price, I’ve tried to find cover that would likely pay for most of the cruise if you needed to cancel it, along with other inclusions.

PassengerTravelling GroupDestination / lengthMedical conditionsMinimum priceAverage price
Mid-30s AdultSoloMed 7 nightsNone£30£45
Mid-30s AdultAnnualMed CruisesNone£25£100
Mid-30s AdultsCoupleMed 7 nightsNone£53£80
Young Family of 4FamilyMed 7 nightsNone£77£150
Mid-70s AdultSoloMed 7 nightsNone£100£120
Mid-30s AdultSoloCaribbean 7 nightsNone£64£93
Mid-30s AdultSoloWorld 80 nightsNone£550£2,000 – but only includes a maximum £5,000 cancellation cover
Mid-30s AdultSoloMed 7 nightsGeneral Anxiety Disorder£36£48
Mid-30s AdultSoloMed 7 nightsHistory of cancer£320£530

As you can see, there are so many different factors that have an impact.

The closer you are cruising to home, the less it costs, since flying you home for treatment would cost significantly less.

But age will play a big factor, as will any serious medical conditions. Minor ones can sometimes only make a very small difference to the cost, so it’s important to be honest.

Read more: 9 Reasons Cruise Insurance Is So Expensive

How To Get The Best Deal On Cruise Insurance

There are a few ways you can bring down the cost of your cruise insurance:

1. Get a joint policy

If you’re travelling as a couple or with family, getting a joint policy to cover you all will likely work out cheaper than individual policies. 

Just make sure you read the terms of any cover you’re given – you need to make sure medical costs or luggage costs are per person, not per policy.

Cruise mummy and her family flashing a beautiful smile behind a cruise ship

2. Get an annual policy

Make sure you check out annual policies when shopping for your insurance deals. I always get an annual policy, but even if you only cruise once per year, it can still be worth it!

It may still be better to get an annual policy since it can cover you for non-cruise travel during the rest of the year too. And if there’s a chance you’ll cruise again later in the year, it’s definitely worth exploring this option.

3. Use a comparison site

It’s never a good idea to go direct to an insurer yourself because you might get a much better deal elsewhere. There aren’t always ‘cheap’ and ‘expensive’ cruise insurance providers – some might be cheaper for your circumstances, but more expensive for another travelling group.

Here are the cruise insurance websites I recommend…

Valuable Extras To Look For In A Policy

These extras aren’t always covered in a standard cruise insurance policy, but if they aren’t then they can be added on for a small additional fee.

1. Missed Port Cover

Missing ports on a cruise is super common. It’s happened on about a third of my cruises. Most of the time it’s due to weather, so if you book in the cheaper seasons you can expect to maybe miss a port or two.

If you’re planning to cruise to the Caribbean in hurricane season, then missed port cover is probably going to be worth it.

Missed port cover will give you some money per port missed, but the amount varies quite a lot depending on the policy. Be sure to choose one with a decent amount that’s more than the excess.

2. Cabin Confinement Cover

Being confined to your cabin is sadly also pretty common on a cruise.

If you have an illness causing you to vomit (that’s not due to seasickness) you should stay in your cabin for 24 hours, and the crew might insist on it.

Norovirus is a common cause on cruise ships, especially among children. When my daughter got it, she wasn’t allowed to leave the room for 24 hours, meaning that she and her dad missed a trip to Pisa.

If you have cabin confinement cover, you can claim some money for the time you’re not enjoying your cruise, which may help to ease the pain a little!

3. Unused Excursions Cover

If you miss ports or are confined to your cabin, you might miss shore excursions that you’ve paid for.

If you’ve booked an excursion with the cruise line and the port is cancelled, they will refund you. But third party excursions usually won’t.

Having missed excursion cover in your cruise policy means you can get some money back for those excursions as well.

My friend Emma for over $1,000 refunded on her travel insurance when she had a port cancelled. Check out this video…

I would advise that you always check the excess on your cruise policy, and make sure that the money you’ll get back for any of these extras exceeds it.

The higher the cover, the more you’ll pay upfront, so it’s a balancing act when you decide which policy you want to take out.

And if you do need to claim for cabin confinement, missed ports or missed excursions, make sure that you ask for a letter from the ship before the end of your cruise so that you can prove it to your insurer when you make a claim.

The Bottom Line

Cruise insurance is exceptionally important, so don’t rush into buying the first policy you find. But at the same time, you should be looking to book it on the same day you book your cruise – that way, if anything happens to make you need to cancel, you’ll be covered.

Always use a price comparison site to find the best deal for you. Prioritise cancellation cover, but make sure you’ve got plenty of medical cover included too. Missed port cover, and cabin confinement cover, are nice to have but don’t spend huge sums if the cover you get for them is low.

My Recommendation

My recommendation for cruise insurance depends on where you live.

These are trusted price comparison sites that will quickly get you lots of quotes to match your exact needs.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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