More than 20 million people board cruise ships each year, and while those numbers were down in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and while cruise travel in 2021 will likely be impacted by the outbreak, many travelers are excited to set out to sea, safely. These passengers might remember the essentials, like sunscreen and their favorite vacation wear. However, there's still one essential that shouldn't be overlooked: cruise insurance.

What is specialty cruise insurance and what does it cover?

Cruise insurance is short-term travel coverage that can help provide support for trip issues like cruise cancellation or trip delays, as well as medical coverage should the policyholder become sick or injured while on board.

Similar to other types of trip and travel insurance, there are a range of different plans available. Travelers can choose the right plan for them depending on the amount of coverage they need, the length and distance of the trip and other key factors.

Depending on the cruise insurance plan that travelers choose, their coverage could include:

  • Trip cancellation: If a situation arises in which a traveler needs to cancel their planned cruise trip, for instance, the policyholder or someone else in the family becomes sick, they can call upon their cruise insurance policy to help recoup some of the trip costs that were paid in advance. Some plans also include trip interruption coverage, so that travelers can recoup certain losses if their cruise is cut short.
  • Trip delay: Many cruise ship passengers take a flight to their ships initial departure location. However, if something comes up before or during the flight and the passenger misses their connection flight, and therefore his or her cruise ship departure, a cruise insurance policy can help provide coverage for these kinds of delays and help finance new travel arrangements.
  • Baggage loss: Similar to trip delay, if baggage is lost or delayed during the flight to or from the cruise ship, the travelers policy can help ensure that he or she isn't left without clothes or personal items. Plans that include baggage-loss coverage can help travelers replace their essentials until their baggage arrives.
  • Medical coverage: If a passenger falls ill or is injured during their cruise, his or her insurance policy will also help cover the cost of medical services. These medical expenditures can add up quickly and be especially costly, so this coverage can help ensure that passengers don't have to pay out of pocket but can get the medical assistance they need.
  • Emergency evacuation: Cruise ship accidents, inclement weather or illnesses do happen, and can impact travel plans. These situations could require an emergency evacuation, which, similar to medical expenses, can result in a very costly bill. A cruise insurance policy can cover most or all of the cost of a necessary emergency evacuation.

Why Do You Need Cruise Insurance?

Lack of regular insurance coverage

There are few critical reasons why cruise ship passengers should purchase a specialty cruise insurance policy. Chief among them is the fact that travelers regular health insurance may not provide coverage during the cruise. If this happens, any illness, injury or other health issue that takes place on board or during the trip may not be covered, resulting in incredibly high medical expenses for those involved. A cruise insurance policy, on the other hand, helps ensure that travelers have the proper medical coverage and can get the medical care they require.

Supplementing on-board resources

Cruise lines are taking the threat of coronavirus infections seriously. While they follow strict social distancing protocols, being in closer quarters with fellow passengers increases the likelihood of virus transmission. Large cruise liners have an on-board medical center or similar health resources, even the most well-staffed and equipped cruise medical center cannot handle every medical emergency. As Kaiser Health News pointed out, while there are regulations that dictate how cruise liners provide medical care, many onboard medical centers have limited hours of operation and may not be accessible in the evening.

In addition, the doctors that staff these medical centers may only be versed in general medical care, and not specialized treatment. If a serious illness or injury takes place, these professionals may only be able to stabilize the patient and not provide full treatment.

Even if the medical center is open and staff members there are able to provide medical assistance, the cost involved can be very high, and typically isn't included in the price of travel.

In these situations, a cruise insurance plan can help cover costs and also provide peace of mind that if a serious health issue emerges, travelers can get the care they need, even if it includes emergency medical evacuation.

Check out our blog to learn more about the types of emergencies that cruise liner crews may not be equipped to handle and how cruise insurance can ensure that travelers are prepared.

A missed departure

As we mentioned earlier, many cruise passengers take a flight to meet their ship at its departure destination. But if travelers miss that flight or its delayed for any reason, they could literally miss the boat. The only option is to meet the cruise ship at its next stop, but making these arrangements (which could include an overnight hotel stay and another flight) can be very expensive.

A cruise insurance policyholder, however, has peace of mind that these costs would be covered or later reimbursed.

A missing wallet can lead to identity theft

While cruise ships are known for their low crime rates, incidents like a stolen credit card or ID card can still happen. Similarly, a lost bag could also mean the loss of important documents and paperwork, which could lead to identity theft.

Surprisingly, some cruise insurance plans can even help travelers cover fraudulent transactions and recover from identity theft. Check out our infographic to learn more!

When and how to purchase

As with any type of travel insurance, it is best to purchase a policy around the same time that you book your cruise. That way, your accommodations and your cruise insurance plan are in place and you can prepare confidently for the cruise.

Stipulations can change depending on the policy, but travelers can sometimes purchase a policy up until the day before cruise departure.

When it comes to the process of purchasing the policy, its always advisable to compare the different options available, including the different types of coverage that policies include.

Review our cruise insurance plan details here to see which best suits your next trip.