Travel insurance is particularly important for cruisers, because cruising carries its own unique set of concerns. For example, because of the nature of cruising, the possibility of missing a 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 plans tend to be fairly limited in their coverage, may not contain important benefits you need for your individual comfort and safety, and are often written in a way that is more likely to benefit the cruise line than it is to benefit you. Whenever you purcahse your cruise travel insurance plan, 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 (some may cover only a portion of the costs). Those on Medicare should be particularly concerned with this type of benefit, as Medicare does not traditionally 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, the costs can be extensive if not covered by insurance. Travelers 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, lost in transit or stolen. Baggage loss coverage to help recover the costs of replacing lost items, or baggage delay coverage to help get the necessities covered while waiting for 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. It can also assist in important communications and monitoring to help replace your documents as quickly as possible.
One important benefit that third-party insurance plans 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. 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.
Hurricanes and other Bad Weather
Cruise ships are obviously especially vulnerable to the effects of hurricanes or other severe weather. While most travel insurance plans will not offer coverage if your cruise goes off as scheduled, it may cover you if the cruise is cancelled or cut short. Some plans specifically built for cruises do have coverage for itinerary changes or excursion cancellation due to weather conditions. There are also important travel insurance benefits available that are related to bad weather that occurs at your home, such as trip interruption coverage.