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Best and worst cruise insurance

Find out how cruise insurance works and what types of cover a good policy should include.

In this article
Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel insurance update What is cruise insurance? What does cruise insurance cover? Who offers the best cruise travel insurance?
Are cruises covered by regular travel insurance?  Does cruise insurance have an age limit? Can I get cruise insurance if I have a pre-existing condition? Should you take your Ehic or Ghic on a cruise?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel insurance update

The spread of coronavirus has resulted in considerable disruption to travel plans. It has also caused insurers to make changes to their policies.

In 2020, many cruise lines suspended activity due to the risks of COVID-19 spreading on board. We haven't reviewed cruise insurance policies since 2019, so aspects of what they cover may have changed since then. 

However, we have rated insurers' COVID-19 cover to help you find the most comprehensive protection for pandemic-related scenarios. You can find the results in our best and worst travel insurance guide.

For the latest updates and advice, see our dedicated Which? coronavirus information hub.

What is cruise insurance?

Cruise insurance is a specific type of travel insurance policy that covers accidents, injuries and other potential mishaps that could occur during a cruise holiday. 

It's designed around the activities that you're likely to take part in during your cruise and also offers cover for additional accommodation and travel expenses under certain circumstances. 

Bear in mind that the European Health Insurance Card and new Global Health Insurance Card won't cover the cost of rescue from a cruise, so relying on them alone could prove extremely costly.

What does cruise insurance cover?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most cruise insurance policies covered the following areas:

Cabin confinement

If you fall ill during your cruise, you may be ordered to stay confined to your cabin to stop your illness spreading, as many experienced at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The cabin confinement clause in cruise insurance allows you to receive compensation for every 24-hour period that you have to stay confined. 

Unused excursions

Most cruise insurance companies will cover the cost of any pre-booked excursions that you're unable to use because you've been confined to your cabin due to illness or injury. 

Itinerary change

Sometimes, your cruise operator may have to change the itinerary of your trip due to adverse weather or timetable restrictions.

For example, if you signed up to an eight-stop cruise but due to a faulty engine, you could only stop at six. If a significant proportion of the services on your cruise cannot be provided, you should be entitled to compensation from the cruise operator too. 

Missed port departure 

Missed port departure covers the cost of accommodation and travel expenses if you miss your cruise leaving and need to catch it at another port. This could be due to a number of reasons including:

  • Public transport delays
  • Accident or breakdown in the vehicle you're travelling in
  • An accident or breakdown ahead on the motorway that causes delays
  • Strike, industrial action or adverse weather

Cancellation and curtailment

Cruise holidays can be expensive and are often booked far in advance of the travel date. Cancellation cover allows you to claim back the cost cancelling your trip before you take off. This includes things such as flights, hotel books and travel to and from airports.

Curtailment covers the cost of your cruise if it's cut short and you return home early unexpectedly. 

Naturally, if your curtailment or cancellation is due to the coronavirus pandemic, your insurer's COVID-19 policy will determine whether you're covered. 

Cruise interruption

Cruise interruption covers the cost of you needing hospital treatment during the course of your cruise. This includes medical bills as well as expenses required for you to rejoin your cruise where possible. 

Medical expenses

Medical expenses cover costs that arise due to you falling ill or getting injured during your trip. This includes the cost of medical treatment, procedures, and daily hospital room fees where they apply.

Medical expenses also cover the cost of having to fly you back to the UK via air ambulance so that you can be treated. Some policies will also pay for accommodation for your travel companions if you require extensive treatment. 

Baggage and belongings

Most cruise insurance policies will cover the cost of your baggage or belongings being lost, stolen or delayed during your trip. The level of cover that you're likely to get may vary depending on your policy so be sure to check the terms and conditions before taking one out. 

Money

The majority of cruise insurance policies will cover the cost of your travel money being lost or stolen. The sum you're allowed to claim for will vary among insurers so it's important to make sure that you have the right level of cover. 

Who offers the best cruise travel insurance?

We paused reviewing travel insurance in 2020 due to insurers making multiple changes to what they covered throughout the year, and the mass travel disruption caused by the pandemic.

In October, we analysed policies from 73 insurance providers to find out which coronavirus-related scenarios they covered. 

We've put these insurers into four different groups based on how much coronavirus travel cover they provide. Follow the link below to see who came top.

Are cruises covered by regular travel insurance? 

Cruises aren't covered by standard travel insurance policies.

This is because cruises tend to last longer than a normal holiday with some lasting months or even a full calendar year at sea. 

If you don't buy a cruise insurance policy you won't be covered for any cancellations or mishaps that could occur during your trip.

Cruise insurance is primarily bought as an add-on to a standard travel insurance policy.

Does cruise insurance have an age limit?

Some policies limit cover cruise insurance cover to people aged 65 years. Generally speaking, however, age limits tend to vary depending on the insurance company. 

Travel insurance premiums tend to be higher for older travellers, as they are seen as higher-risk and more likely to make a claim. 

Can I get cruise insurance if I have a pre-existing condition?

Similarly to standard travel insurance, it may be possible for you to get cruise insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

Where insurers may be able to offer you cover, the policy is likely to be much more expensive, due to the higher-risk of you needing to claim for medical assistance. 

Find out more about how to get the best cover for in our guide to medical conditions travel insurance.

Should you take your Ehic or Ghic on a cruise?

Ehic and Ghics are free medical card, which can be used throughout the EU (but no longer Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, in most cases). Both entitles you to treatment in state hospitals at the same price as residents of the country you're visiting.

If you have an Ehic already, it will still be valid until it reaches its expiry date. But now that the UK has left the EU the Ehic has been replaced by the Ghic, which is almost identical but isn't valid in any non-EU countries. 

It's advisable that you take your Ehic or Ghic with you if your itinerary includes stops in any EU countries, as it could allow you to access state healthcare. 

Medical facilities onboard a cruise are usually operated by private, non-state funded, healthcare companies. As a result, your Ehic or Ghic is unlikely to be accepted as a way of getting medical treatment.

You can find out more about how this work in our guide to the Ehic and Ghic.

 

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