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Learn how to save money on travel insurance with our special guide...
What is cruise insurance?
For many a cruise is a once in a lifetime holiday opportunity, while for others it’s a glamorous means of celebrating a landmark occasion/achievement in someone’s life. You may have been promising yourself for years that one day you would set sail on a cruise ship and explore an exotic, unique or just plain stunning world vista; with available panoramas routinely preferred by the cruise liner set being the likes of the Caribbean, the Norwegian Fjords, the Mediterranean Sea or indeed, an around-the-world cruise.
It really does represent (and mentally paint) the dream holiday in many people’s heads, offering as it does that tantalising blend of sophistication, style, sun and sea (yet little sand) as passengers take in some of the globe’s most iconic visual splendours as they circumnavigate a choice of seven or more seas, while absorbing the special ambience met in many ports of call en route.
But before you take off on this (more watery) flight of fancy, there are some practical protocols you must first implement to ensure that your financial interests are served as comprehensively as your food and drinks on-board the cruise liner, and that ultimately you protect yourself with more far-reaching measures than a lifejacket and life raft.
What follows is a bite-size guide all about Cruise Insurance; ascertaining what it is, whether or not you need it and how much it costs. Which we advise any would-be cruise-orientated holiday makers peruse before they even think about getting their sea legs.
Cruise insurance is a special travel insurance policy which caters specifically for those of you looking to go – or already booked – on a cruise.
Cruises are becoming increasingly popular amongst holidaymakers looking for that something out of the ordinary, and cruises themselves have experienced something of a makeover in recent times.
Where once it was traditionally all about strolling on deck or topping up the tan on a sun lounger all day long, today cruise passengers can readily enjoy all the trappings of home while they’re away at sea. Cinemas, shopping malls, libraries, restaurants and even rock climbing walls are de rigour on cruise ships these days, which when combined with the ever-changing surroundings and transient land and seascapes it makes a cruise holiday something very special. Which is why you wouldn’t want to jeopardise or have any aspect of it spoiled for reasons out of your control. Which returns us to the subject of a dedicated cruise insurance.
There are the two predominant types of cruise insurance to choose from, single trip cruise travel insurance and annual cruise travel insurance.
If you’re planning on just the one-off, holiday of a lifetime cruise, then the former is probably the best option for you, while if you’re in the fortunate position of taking to the seas twice or more during a 12 month period, then the latter could well turn out to be the more cost effective solution. Just steer clear of ordinary travel insurance as, a) single trip travel insurance policies are offered with time limitations which come into effect for each individual cruise, and are habitually starred as being between 30 and 60 days duration, and, b) even annual travel insurance (of a non-cruise nature) – whilst covering the policyholder for 12 months at a time – can carry an individual trip maximum duration of 56 days.
With this in mind bespoke cruise travel insurance is the ONLY sure fire way of covering all angles.
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Do I need cruise insurance?
We’d say yes, if you are in the midst of organising a cruise ship holiday, as there’s nothing quite like the peace of mind which comes with knowing that you’re covered for all eventualities, especially so when you’re embarking on previously unchartered territories/unfamiliar surrounds.
And don’t be fooled into thinking that any standard travel insurance you may already possess will suffice, as cruise-specific insurance is tailored towards the policyholder being aboard a ship and as such is geared up to take into detailed account certain insurance elements and policy criteria which only come into play should you be in this environ for a period of time. And also remember that a cruise – by its very definition – typically lasts longer than your average fortnight’s land-based holiday, with some of the more exotic cruise durations extending to months if not a full year if they’re around-the-world sojourns.
Missed cruise departure (as a consequence of a flight transfer to the port of embarkment being delayed/cancelled for reasons out of the policyholder’s control), delayed departure of cruise (weather/technical issues),
cabin confinement issues (if you can’t leave your cabin due to illness/restrictive weather conditions), missed port/shore (again, due to illness or poor weather stopping ship from docking), cruise itinerary changes, unused excursions and emergency airlifts to on-shore hospitals for instance are all hugely important and bespoke around cruise liner holiday insurance plans.
Incidentally, and with regards to medical treatment, some cruise insurers will waive your excess if this is undertaken at sea, although you’ll more than likely be required to meet the costs if treated on shore.
Less dramatic events covered by a far-reaching cruise insurance travel policy – yet equally as plausible to occur and potentially leave you seriously out of pocket if you haven’t – include lost or delayed luggage, theft and public liability.
Also worth determining is whether a cruise insurance travel policy will extend its cover to include any on-shore activities planned, while the ship is moored for a day/days. Jet-skiing, snorkelling and a range of other watersports (and jungle-trekking in some parts of the world) could well be participated in either from the shore or even while on-board the ship.
According to travel insurance experts, in the most cases such beach-type activities are normally inclusive within cruise insurance policies, however more risky pastimes such as sea kayaking and scuba diving may not be; unless you are both qualified and experienced in these areas. Most policies will possess a list of what extra-curricular sports and activities are covered and those that are not, so as always, we’d strongly recommend that would-be policyholders went over the small print with a fine toothed comb prior to agreeing to plans and packages.
What’s more, ensure that any cruise travel insurance policy covers every country you intend to encounter on your travels – which requires further close scrutiny of the small print/terms and conditions.
It’s not unheard of for certain cruise insurance providers to adopt an exclusion clause, determining countries which they feel are encountering a state of unrest, political or militarily; so make sure you do your research and confirm that certain destinations on your cruise route are covered.
How much does cruise insurance cost?
Once again – and like most insurance products – this very much depends on the personal circumstances and current status of the proposed policyholder at the juncture of them agreeing to and subsequently taking out the cruise insurance travel plan.
Age and health being the two primary factors which can influence premiums, although the type of cruise insurance plan also plays its part in allowing the insurance provider to arrive at a sum total.
As stereotypical as it may read, cruise lovers tend still to be older travellers, despite an upsurge in younger holidaymakers and families showing increasing interest in cruises over the last decade. Therefore you’d expect premiums to almost certainly rocket for applicants over 65, while some older people may well be refused cover per se. The reason behind this being that perhaps cruise insurers would see older generations as being more likely to possess pre-existing medical conditions which could put them at greater risk when travelling and exposed to alternate environments.
However this isn’t necessarily the case, as one of the chief advantages of specialist cruise insurance is that it promotes extended cover for older people. It’s not unusual for travellers up to 89-years of age being afforded 365 days cover, with those aged 90 plus receiving up to 180 days in some instances. All pre-existing conditions will also usually be considered, but do check the small print. And DO declare any pre-existing medical conditions when you buy cruise insurance.
What can I do to reduce the cost of cruise insurance?
It all boils down to that age-old battle between cost and quality. Yes, saving money and finding cheap cruise insurance is probably your number one priority, yet at what cost? As the quality of your cover cannot be compromised for cost when you’re negotiating un-chartered waters.
Saving a few bob on your annual/monthly premium might sound appealing but it could well turn out to be a false economy if your policy fails to deliver when you call upon it to bail you out of unforeseen problems at sea.
Take your time to establish precisely what you need your cruise insurance cover to offer you – medical treatment, loss and theft of personal belongings, cancellation of the trip as a result of illness or collapse of tour operator – these are all vitally important elements without which you could easily be left high and dry should your cruise take a turn for the worse.
Of course savings are there to be made, courtesy of cruise insurance travel policies which manage to balance savings with comprehensive cover, but you’ll need to shop around to find them as they won’t come to you.