Booking a cruise involves some risk. When you make reservations, you hope that nothing will happen on or near your departure date to keep you from enjoying your trip. While you can’t predict the future, you can get travel insurance to protect yourself in case something should keep you from going on your cruise.
Learn more about why a travel insurance policy is important, what it does and does not cover and how to decide if a cruise travel insurance plan is right for you.
Why Cruise Insurance Is Important
Cruise travel insurance protects your investment during medical emergencies or other unexpected events. A good travel insurance policy offers you peace of mind, allowing you the freedom you need to relax on your vacation.
Cruise ships are designed to be both enjoyable and safe. In fact, cruise ships are among the safest ways to travel. Cruise ships undergo rigorous safety inspections throughout the year and cruising is one of the most heavily regulated industries today. Regardless, accidents can happen both on and off-ship. For example, you could trip and fall while taking a walking tour in New Zealand, catch too much sun on the beaches of Costa Rica or come down with a stomach bug after indulging a little too much in Italy.
The cost of some medical emergencies can be covered by a travel insurance plan.
If you have to unexpectedly cancel your trip — or return home earlier than planned — travel insurance can help reimburse you those costs. For example, if you are all prepared to set off for your Alaskan cruise, only to learn that you are required to show up for jury duty on the same day as departure, travel insurance can usually help.
Peace Of Mind
There have been several studies regarding the numerous health and wellness benefits that traveling provides. A good vacation boosts your mood, deepens your relationships and changes your perspective of the world around you.
If you are on the cruise of a lifetime, you do not want to waste any valuable energy worrying about what could go wrong. If you are the type of person who has trouble separating worry from relaxation, cruise insurance provides you with the peace of mind you need to focus on finding peace and having fun.
What Cruise Insurance Covers
Just as it is with other insurance plans, what travel insurance does and does not cover varies depending on the policy you purchase.
Cancellation And Interruption
Coverage for trip cancellation or interruption is the most common reason people purchase travel insurance.
Cancellation refers to the traveler’s decision to cancel a trip — or end it earlier than planned — for a specific reason. These reasons are pre-determined by your policy. Although each travel insurance policy has its own list of valid cancellation and interruption reasons, some common ones are:
- Injury or illness
- Severe weather or natural disaster
- Scheduling conflicts, including jury duty
- Legal separation or divorce
Your regular health insurance may not cover you if you are outside of your home country or on international waters. Some countries will not begin medical treatment without a large deposit. Cruise travel insurance policies that include health coverage is one way to ensure your safety while on the open seas or while docked at port.
Emergency evacuation coverage means that, if you suffer an injury or become ill while on your trip, insurance will help cover the cost of transporting you to the nearest medical facility. Emergency evacuation coverage will also help with the cost of returning you home once treatment has finished.
Emergency evacuation plans usually also cover repatriation.
Lost or Delayed Luggage
Some travel insurance plans cover the cost of your luggage if it is lost, destroyed or delayed. Plans that include coverage for delayed luggage might reimburse you a limited amount of money for necessary items you had to purchase while waiting for your delayed luggage to return to you.
Please note that some travel insurance policies that cover lost luggage are unable to cover the cost of replacing every item in your luggage, including expensive electronics. Be sure to read the details in your policy, including the maximum amount of reimbursement offered. For valuable items, consider leaving them at home or adding them to your homeowner’s insurance for the best protection.
What Cruise Insurance Does Not Cover
Even if you select the most comprehensive policy available, there are a few situations that travel insurance will not cover.
Changing Your Mind
If you have already paid for your cruise vacation and simply no longer want to go, travel insurance is unable to cover those costs.
However, if you have purchased travel insurance and have changed your mind about your policy, most issuers have a free look period. During the period — usually, 10-15 days after initial purchase — you can review your policy, verify important information and decide if you wish to keep, alter or cancel it.
Having your plans interrupted by an unexpected rainy day may be upsetting, but your travel insurance does not reimburse you for lost time or canceled plans. Weather is only covered if it interrupts the trip. Insurance policies exclude include normal weather conditions.
Instead of relying on your insurance, always have a back-up itinerary in place for each day of your cruise. If inclement weather should keep you from doing one activity, you can easily switch over to the new schedule of events.
Travel insurance will not reimburse you for minor inconveniences you might experience, like plumbing issues onboard, seasickness or closed attractions while docked. You can minimize inconveniences by choosing a cruise line that offers world-class service and expertly designed itineraries.
Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
Travel insurance does not cover the cost of pre-existing medical conditions. A pre-existing condition is any illness, disease, injury or pregnancy that occurs before your plan’s start date. Most insurers implement a “look-back period,” where they check to see if you have been medically stable for several months prior to purchasing your travel policy.
There may be certain exceptions to pre-existing conditions. For example, if you became pregnant before purchasing your travel insurance policy, the cost of going into labor early will not be covered by your plan. Any complications that arise from your pregnancy, though — like severe morning sickness — may be covered by your travel health insurance. Check with your policyholder to be sure.
Travel Reward Points or Miles
If you used any travel rewards points or miles to pay for any portion of your trip — including airfare to and from your departure destination — travel insurance policies will not cover the loss of those rewards in the event of trip cancellation or interruption.
How to Decide If Cruise Travel Insurance Is Right For You
Is cruise travel insurance right for you? To decide, consider where you are going, what you plan to do while you are there, who you are traveling with, what method of transportation you plan to use while on land and your overall investment. Regardless of your situation, cruise travel insurance is a good idea for anyone looking for peace of mind while on their trip.
Where You Are Going
To save themselves the cost of tourists’ unexpected medical expenses or hospital stays, many countries require all travelers to have travel insurance. Some destinations that require this are:
- Schengen Nations
You should also take into account the climate and weather conditions of your destination. For example, if you are cruising in a hurricane-prone area during the active season, travel insurance is essential in the event of dangerous weather conditions ending your trip early.
What You Plan To Do
If you plan to spend your entire cruise relaxing by the pool with a drink in-hand, a basic travel insurance plan will probably provide you with enough coverage. However, if you plan to participate in any sightseeing tours, excursions to out-of-the-way places or deep-sea diving trips, you will want a policy that covers more.
Who You Are Traveling With
Each traveling adult should purchase an individual travel insurance plan. However, if you are traveling with young children, travel insurance is the best way to ensure a safe trip. Many insurance policies cover children the same way they do adults, including secure transportation back home should you become hospitalized during your trip. Check with your policyholder to see if children are covered for free or if there is an additional cost to consider.
How You Are Traveling
Aside from the cruise ship, what other means of transportation will you be using on your trip? If you plan to use a rental car or bicycle while on land, travel insurance can help cover the cost of any accidents or damages that may occur during the duration of your rental.
Your Overall Investment
If you have invested a large amount of money, time, reward points or other resources into your cruise — including special event tickets, parking passes, airfare to and from your boarding destination, dining reservations and more — it is always in your best interest to purchase a travel insurance policy. The more you have invested in your trip, the more coverage you should seek. Then, should something happen, you will be able to recover financially and easily re-schedule your trip.
Tips For Choosing Cruise Travel Insurance
If you have decided to purchase cruise travel insurance, the next step is to search for the right policy. Here are a few tips you can follow to make sure you are getting the best possible policy.
Purchase Insurance Early
Purchase your travel insurance policy as soon as you book your cruise. The earlier you begin your insurance search, the more time you have to research every offer and make the most educated decision. Additionally, rates and deductibles are usually higher if you purchase cruise insurance just before your departure date. Finally, the earlier you buy a travel insurance plan, the easier it will be to cancel your coverage if you decide to cancel or reschedule your cruise.
It is important to know precisely what is and what is not covered by your travel insurance policy to avoid any surprises. Be sure you understand every part of your plan before the end of your policy’s free review period. If you are confused or dissatisfied with any part of it, make the necessary changes while you still can.
Shop Around And Compare
If you are searching for the best travel insurance, be sure to research all options before making a final decision. You can purchase travel insurance through a private travel insurance company, through your personal insurance company or through a travel agency. Many third-party websites can help you shop around and compare your different options.
If you have a credit card with a rewards program, you can also check with your credit card company to see if any travel protection benefits or rewards are available to you.
By comparing different providers, you can see which policy best fits your needs and budget.
Ask Your Cruise Line
Windstar Full Sail Travel Protection is an optional plan available for purchase at the time of your initial deposit and may be purchased up until 90 days before the start of your trip. Windstar Cruises offers the following travel insurance options:
- Trip Interruption: Reimbursement up to total trip cost if you need to interrupt your trip for a covered reason — $75,000 maximum.
- Trip Delay: Reimbursement up to $100 a day — for a total of $1,000 maximum — for catch-up expenses like meals and hotel if you are delayed getting to or from your trip.
- Accident Medical/Sickness Expense Benefits: Reimbursement up to $50,000 if you get sick or hurt on your trip.
- Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation Benefits: Coverage up to $100,000 if you need emergency transportation during your trip.
- Baggage Loss: Reimbursement up to $3,000 if your things are lost, stolen or damaged.
- Bag Delay: Reimbursement up to $500 if bags are delayed 24+ hours and you need to purchase necessary items.
Purchasing travel insurance before embarking upon your cruise protects you from unexpected medical emergencies or other unplanned events and can provide you with priceless peace of mind.
Travel With Peace Of Mind On A Windstar Cruise
Windstar Cruises offers an elegant cruise experience for travelers. Our small boutique ships carry fewer than 350 passengers and are designed to fit in unique ports where larger cruise ships cannot. When you book a cruise with Windstar, you receive an intimate travel experience that allows you to connect with your travel partner, fellow travelers and ship crew. Our cruises take travelers 180 degrees from ordinary.
We are known for our authentic experiences and award-winning hospitality. Our unfailingly attentive service delights in bringing you just the right thing at just the right time. As the Official Cruise Line of the James Beard Foundation, Windstar also boasts an innovative culinary program.