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It’s not hard to sea why millions of Aussies hit the high seas for a holiday every year. Cruising is the type of travel that allows you to explore new horizons and destinations with minimal planning and unpacking, which means you get more time to enjoy the fun!

However, when you’re confined to a cruise ship for days or sometimes weeks at a time, a lot can go wrong. You could fall ill before you even set sail or worse, miss the trip altogether. You could accidentally drop your wallet into the Pacific Ocean, or slip by the pool and throw out your back.

A lot can happen, especially if you don’t have your sea legs! That’s why it’s important to protect yourself and your family with a travel insurance policy while on your cruise. It’s just as easy to get this type of policy as it is to get covered for any regular trip overseas or domestically.

Tips for getting covered on your cruise

Cruise cover usually comes as an add-on to travel insurance. Here are some things you should keep in mind when booking travel insurance for your cruise.

Get covered for a variety of activities. Cruises often include great days out on the water to snorkel and explore new surroundings. It’s all fun and games when you’re on vacation, but you need to make sure your insurance policy covers these activities (partaken on or offshore).

Ensure your medical costs are covered. If you’re worried about falling ill on your trip and missing something important on your itinerary, it’s a good idea to seek out a travel insurance policy that covers overseas medical expenses, evacuations, and even pre-existing conditions. Evacuations alone can cost more than $100,000 in certain parts of the world!

What about Medicare? You can only claim Medicare benefits if you’re travelling between two Australian ports, with no stops outside Australia, and if a Medicare-accredited physician/doctor treats you.  Your cruise operator may not have an eligible doctor on board, so it is worth checking before you set sail.

Reimbursement if you miss out on activities. If you have to cancel your cruise or any prepaid excursions or activities for unexpected reasons, travel insurance could ensure you get your money back (depending on your policy).

Look after your gear. There’s something satisfying about dressing ‘to the nines’, waltzing to the upper deck restaurant for a nice dinner, and then having a few classy drinks at the bar. If for any reason your suit or dress gets destroyed or nicked, insurance may cover its worth! This kind of coverage extends to a bunch of your belongings, like your phone, camera, laptops, (again, depending on the travel cover you have).

N.B. Insurance policies may not cover all of the above.

Travel cruise ship couple on sunset cruise in holiday

Do I need insurance for domestic cruising?

Whether you’re cruising around just a small part of Australia or setting sail around Europe, you’ll likely need to take out international travel insurance to cover your onshore and offshore medical expenses at the very least. That’s because you’ll no longer be covered by Medicare or your private health fund the moment your ship leaves port.

Most doctors on cruise ships are private practitioners, which means that consultations, treatments and medications are charged at private rates; and let’s not even mention the hefty cost of a medical evacuation at sea, should you need urgent medical attention.

What should my travel insurance policy for a cruise include?

Having the right travel insurance can give you peace of mind that you’ll be financially protected if things don’t go as planned. Travel insurance for a cruise should provide cover for:

  • overseas medical and hospital expenses
  • medical evacuations at sea
  • cabin confinement due to sickness
  • cancellation costs for pre-paid travel arrangements
  • trip delays and rescheduling fees
  • missed cruise departure
  • missed pre-paid shore excursions
  • lost, damaged or stolen luggage and personal belongings
  • additional expenses
  • 24-hour emergency assistance.

Terms, conditions, limits and exclusions apply.

Cruise travel insurance exclusions to be mindful of

It’s important to remember travel insurance policies come with general exclusions. Travel insurance may not cover loss or injury due to:

  • pre-existing medical conditions
  • mental health conditions
  • lost, damaged or stolen belongings left unattended
  • loss or injury resulting from intoxication, drug use or risky/unlawful behaviour
  • high-risk sports or activities
  • travelling against government advice (check Smartraveller for updates)
  • acts of war, terrorism or natural disasters.

However, some of the above, like pre-existing medical conditions and adventure activities, can be covered as extras (for an additional cost).

Woman facing the horizon on a cruise ship

Three top travel tips for cruising

1. Do your research

There’s a lot to consider before you think about booking your sea adventure. First, choose which destinations you want to visit and what type of cruise experience you’d like. There are cruises for every age group and interest, like singles or solo cruises, luxury cruises, family cruises and more. So, if you’re looking for a romantic getaway with your significant other, you might not want to be around families with children. You should also research different cruise lines, ship sizes and the best times of the year to go on a cruise.

You also don’t want to walk off the ship without a plan, so do a bit of research on all your port of calls, shore excursions, any on-land activities you can take part in and what each destination has to offer.

2. Pack efficiently

When working out what to pack in your suitcase, remember ‘less is more’. Cabins on cruise ships can be quite compact, so you don’t want to over pack and trip over suitcases every time you need to go to the bathroom. There’ll be laundry facilities on board for your convenience.

Before you leave, plan out what you’re going to wear each day and for special occasions, and organise your clothes that way. If you’re cruising somewhere tropical, pack at least one warm and water-resistant coat in case of bad weather.

Another good tip is to pack all your essentials and important items like passports, travel documents and prescription medications in your carry on, in case your luggage doesn’t get delivered to your room straight away.

Don’t forget to bring sun protection, insect repellent and enclosed footwear either.

3. Don’t forget the seasickness medicine

Nothing will dampen your cruise experience like getting seasick. So before you head off, you should stock up on motion sickness medication. If you wait until you’re on board to buy medicine, you risk paying an inflated price. Antiemetics (i.e. anti-nausea medication) are readily available over the counter, but you can also ask your doctor for something stronger if you’re prone to severe seasickness.

Sea or motion sickness is the result of a visual distortion between what you see and the motion of the vestibular system of your inner ear senses. Unfortunately there’s no cure for it yet, but there are ways you can alleviate the symptoms like getting regular fresh air, staying in a central cabin on the ship, avoiding staring at books and screens, snacking every few hours and staying hydrated.

Compare cruise travel insurance

Looking for travel insurance to protect you on your oceanic odyssey? Our free comparison tool can help you compare travel insurance plans from leading Australian brands side-by-side. You can filter your level of cover, policy benefits and excess amount to find a policy in just minutes!

Going on a different kind of holiday? Find travel insurance based on what kind of traveller you are.

N.B. Read through any Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully before signing up to a travel insurance policy to find out exactly what you’re covered for.

Sources:

Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-Medical treatment for cruise passengers (2019).

Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade- Travelling by boat (2019).

Travelvax- Overcoming the misery of motion sickness (2019).

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