Travel insurance is particularly important for cruisers, because cruising carries its own unique set of concerns that may not be shared by the average traveler. For example, because of the nature of cruising, the possibility of missing some leg of your trip — such as the ship's departure from one of its ports — is somewhat higher than it is when you take a non-stop flight from Point A to Point B. Getting appropriate medical care in an emergency at sea is also a consideration that needs to be factored into making decisions about insuring a cruise. These, among many others, make a good case for at least investigating travel insurance when you plan to take a cruise.
However, it's important to be cautious about where you get that insurance. Typically, it's most advisable to buy travel insurance for your cruise from a third party source — not from the cruise line itself or from a booking site. These types of travel insurance policies tend to be fairly limited in their coverage, may not contain important benefits you need for your individual comfort and safety, and often are written in a way that is more likely to benefit the cruise line than it is to benefit you. When you decide on a trusted third-party source for your insurance, make sure to find out what type of coverage is available to you for the following concerns:
If you should unexpectedly fall ill or become injured while you're on your cruise, you'll need some sort of medical insurance coverage to offset the expense of the medical care you receive. Many cruisers don't know that their home medical insurance provider may not cover any care they receive outside of their home country, or may cover only a portion of the costs. Those on Medicare should be particularly concerned with this type of benefit, as Medicare does not cover any kind of medical care outside of the United States.
Emergency Medical Evacuation
While rare, emergency medical evacuations are a very real possibility for cruisers. Whether the emergency is severe enough to require an air rescue from the ship, or whether it involves emergency transport from the nearest port of call to an on-shore medical facility, the costs can be prohibitive if not covered by insurance. Those who are particularly concerned about the possible quality of medical care in an unknown area of the world may want to consider looking into the optional Hospital of Choice benefit as well.
Baggage Loss or Baggage Delay
Between airlines, ships, and ports of call, there are plenty of opportunities for cruisers to misplace personal items — or for those personal items to be delayed or lost in transit, or worse, stolen during the course of the cruise. Making sure you have baggage loss coverage to help you recover the costs of replacing your lost items, or baggage delay coverage to help you get the necessities covered while you wait for your bags, can greatly decrease the stress of losing your belongings.
Losing personal documents such as passports is certainly a possibility when on a cruise. Identity Theft protection is a unique service offered by some travel insurance companies, which can help guide you through the process of minimizing any possible damage to your credit or financial reputation, while also taking care of important communications and monitoring for you and helping you to replace your documents as quickly as possible.
One important benefit that third-party insurance policies offer is possible coverage for financial default. In other words, if your cruise line or another travel supplier related to your cruise goes bankrupt, financial default coverage would allow you to potentially recover the money paid to that travel supplier, as long as you weren't able to make suitable alternate arrangements. However, financial default coverage is a time-sensitive benefit, so be sure to look into purchasing your travel insurance as soon after you make your first trip payment as possible.
Hurricanes and other Inclement Weather
Cruise ships are obviously especially vulnerable to the effects of hurricanes or other severe weather. While travel insurance will not offer you any coverage if your cruise goes off as scheduled, but misses a few ports of call or has to re-route entirely due to bad weather, it can cover you if the cruise is cancelled or cut short. There are also important travel insurance benefits available that are related to bad weather that occurs at your home, or which impacts any portion of your trip, including air travel.