(Updated May 2022) Here are the best plans to cover your cruise, plus everything else you need to know about cruise travel insurance8 March 2022
Looking for the best cruise travel insurance for your upcoming trip? This guide will show you the best plans and everything else you need to know about insuring your cruise.
Cruises are one of the most insured types of trips because this style of travel comes with unique risks. In fact, over 75% of cruisers buy travel insurance for their trip, versus about 40% of travelers in general.
What are these cruise-specific risks? You might have connecting flights to catch the departing ship. Your cruise could be during hurricane season. When you’re on the cruise you will be far from hospitals. Cruise companies also have strict cancellation rules. These policies put your trip expenses at risk if you need to cancel.
I recommend the following standards for choosing a plan, and will expand on each at the end of the guide. These criteria are mandatory for my picks:
I recommend the above criteria, and my picks meet these standards. The following criteria are good to have if possible. I factor these into my choices:
This is my top cruise plan based on the criteria above, individual plan features, and cost. Below I have also selected a best plan for families and seniors. All recommended plans are from A.M.Best Rated reputable companies that specialize in travel insurance.
What makes this the best overall plan? This plan covers hurricane warnings, while many plans don’t. It has missed connection coverage to help you “catch up” to your ship. It has itinerary change coverage if unexpected changes happen. It has the option for Cancel For Any Reason coverage, which has become very popular since Covid. Finally, it is fairly priced so you get good value for the money.
Example quote $232 (includes all travelers): For the above plan, the example trip includes 2 travelers (45, 45) on a 7-day cruise with airfare, with a total trip cost of $3,500).
This is the best cruise insurance for parents traveling with children. Families will have extra concerns to consider, and this plan covers families better at a good price. Again, all recommendations are from reputable companies that specialize in travel insurance.
What makes this the best plan for families? This plan covers hurricane warnings, while many plans don’t. It covers school year extension for cancellations, for something like extra school to make up for snow days. It has missed connection coverage to help you “catch up” to your ship. It has the option for Cancel For Any Reason coverage, which has become very popular since Covid. Finally, the pricing is very good when traveling with children under 18.
Example quote $224 (includes all travelers): For the above plan, the example trip includes 4 travelers (45, 45, 12, 10) on a 7-day cruise with airfare, with a total trip cost of $6,500).
Example quote $938 (includes all travelers): For the above plan, the example trip includes 2 travelers (70, 70) on a 14-day cruise with airfare, with a total trip cost of $9,000).
In general, travel insurance costs between 4-10% of your insured trip cost. I chose the policies above because they met the criteria listed. The plans also had unique individual coverages and were well priced.
Here is a summary of the cost of travel insurance from the examples above:
Why is the “family” plan such a low percentage of the trip cost? Because there are more travelers the cost of the trip is spread between all travelers, and therefore the risk per traveler is reduced. This reduces the insurance company’s risk exposure.
As we covered at the top of the page, I recommend minimum levels of emergency medical and evacuation coverage. Due to the nature of cruise trips, these higher levels provide adequate protection:
With cruise lines operating again, many require unvaccinated travelers to buy medical coverage to board the ship. These are the requirements of the cruise lines and I believe they are too low. But, the cruise lines are requiring this to protect themselves.
Royal Caribbean: Travelers must have $25,000 in Emergency Medical coverage and $50,000 in Medical Evacuation coverage.
Carnival Cruise Line: Travelers must have $10,000 in Emergency Medical coverage and $20,000 in Medical Evacuation coverage.
Disney Cruise Line: Travelers departing from Florida must have $10,000 in Emergency Medical coverage and $30,000 in Medical Evacuation coverage.
Travel insurance covers your pre-paid, non-refundable trip expenses. This includes airfare to your port of departure, hotel at the port of departure, the cruise fare, shore excursions, organized tours, or event tickets. It is important to spend a few minutes to gather all of your trip costs to make sure you don’t miss anything. If the expense is not included in your insured trip cost, you will not be covered.
Finding the best cruise travel insurance means finding the right coverage. Every trip is different, and cruises come with their own list of risks.
Trip Cancellation Insurance
This protects your trip cost if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip for a covered reason. The most common reason people cancel is someone getting sick right before the trip. It also covers death in the family, hurricane & weather, house fire, quarantine, jury duty, terrorism, and more. The medical issues also apply to family members, so a parent getting sick and needing your care would be covered.
Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) Coverage Upgrade
The list of covered reasons for cancellation includes most common situations. But, that list cannot include everything. Cancel For Any Reason insurance extends your cancellation coverage to “everything”. You need to cancel at least 48 hours before departure and insure your full trip cost. You also buy in time (usually within 10 days of your first trip payment). All the above best cruise travel insurance plans have CFAR as an optional upgrade.
Emergency Medical Coverage
This covers expenses for emergency medical treatment while on your trip. Your insurance from home may not cover you when you leave your home country.
Emergency Evacuation Coverage
This coverage pays for medical transportation. It includes an ambulances to the hospital, an airlift from a remote location, or a medical flight back home.
Primary medical coverage
Having Primary coverage for medical emergencies is better than Secondary coverage. It means the plan will pay first, without needing to use any other insurance you may have. With a Secondary coverage plan you would need to use any other coverage you might have first. Then you would use the travel insurance coverage. You’re covered either way, but having Primary coverage makes it easier to file a claim.
This covers extra expenses caused by travel delays. For example, a few extra nights in a hotel, meals, or personal items.
Baggage Loss, Theft, or Damage
This covers your baggage not only on your flight, but on your entire trip. It will reimburse you for personal items and luggage if your bags are lost, stolen, or damaged during your trip.
If your baggage is delayed in reaching your destination, you might need extra cloths or personal items. This coverage reimburses you for these expenses.
The pandemic remains a concern for all travers, especially those traveling with children or elderly parents. The plans above cover cancellations if you get Covid-19. A doctor will need to verify that you cannot take your trip. In this case, Covid is treated like any other sickness for trip cancellation coverage.
The best cruise travel insurance plans also cover Covid for emergency medical treatment. This is important when you travel abroad where your insurance from home may not cover you.
There are many other covered reasons for trip cancellation. These include severe weather, terrorism, house fire, or a death in the family. Getting sick before your trip is the most common.
Cruises are a different type of travel. To find the best cruise travel insurance, you need to consider some extra risks that are unique to cruises.
Bad weather and hurricanes affect thousands of trips every year. Many cruises go to hurricane-prone destinations, putting them more at risk. Your flight can be canceled or delayed, causing you to miss your boat.
What makes good hurricane & weather coverage?
Low time trigger for delays– Trip cancellation coverage covers common carrier (airlines) delays of a certain length of time. Some companies set this amount at 6, 12, 24, or even 48 hours. That would mean your flight would need to be delayed for 48 hours before your cancellation coverage would apply. So, the shorter this time, the better for you. I selected 12 hours or less for the criteria.
Hurricane warnings covered– This is not a common feature in most plans, which is why 2/3 of the best plans include it. This extends your coverage because you don’t actually need to be affected by the hurricane, but you can cancel your trip with full reimbursement if the NOAA issues a hurricane warning. Note: you must purchase travel insurance before the storm is named.
Missed connection coverage– This helps you catch up to your itinerary if you miss your departure for a covered reason, such as bad weather or a flight breakdown on the way to the port.
Itinerary Change coverage– This will reimburse travelers for missed events if their travel supplier changes their itinerary.
Cruise companies usually have the most harsh cancellation penalties of all travel suppliers. Hotels would let you cancel up until the day before, and airlines would charge a fee to change your tickets. Cruise lines would have a penalty schedule that put you on the hook for the full expense weeks before departure.
One bright side of the Covid pandemic has been the relaxing of some of these hard policies. To get travelers spending money again, travel suppliers have reduced or eliminated many of these penalties.
Even with these new policies the best you can hope for in the event of a cancellation is a voucher with the cruise line. The downside is they expire. This puts you under pressure to book another trip with the same cruise line in that time frame.
Cruises are sold as package travel experiences. This means costs like lodging, transport, and even meals are combined into a single cost. These expenses are pre-paid and non-refundable. That means you could lose your expenses if you needed to cancel.
Cruise ships have medical care on board, but it is not a fully equipped and staffed hospital. If you have a serious issue onboard you want the proper medical care. Serious conditions include a stroke, heart attack, or appendicitis. Off the ship, you are likely in foreign locations where you would want proper medical care.
My rule: Buy travel insurance within 10 days of your first trip payment.
Some travel insurance coverage is time-sensitive. This means you need to purchase your plan soon after your initial trip deposit. This period of time is different for each company. The lowest is 10 days, and some companies are as high as 30 days.
This is why 10 days is the safest goal for you. No matter which company, 10 days will put you within that time-sensitive window.
Cancel For Any Reason coverage (also known as CFAR) is an optional coverage with some plans. Every company that sells CFAR requires you to purchase within their time frame. If you try to purchase after this time period, you will not be able to.
Pre-existing condition coverage is time-sensitive. This does not cost extra, but many companies will cover this if you purchase at the right time.
Yes. All companies featured in our search engine are reputable, and are regulated by the Division of Insurance.
Every policy purchased through CoverTrip comes with a unique Zero Complaint Guarantee.
If you are unhappy with how your travel insurance claim is handled, Squaremouth’s team of licensed claims adjusters will investigate your case and mediate with the provider on your behalf. If the complaint is not resolved to Squaremouth’s satisfaction, they will remove the provider from the website and stop selling their policies.
A few reasons. Your pre-paid expenses for your cruise are non-refundable, and you could lose it if you needed to cancel. Cruises often take place during hurricane season, which means more opportunity for a cancellation. Cruises take you far from hospital care in the event of a medical emergency.
Yes. Every travel insurance plan we sell comes with a Free Look period. This means you have a certain number of days to examine your coverage, and still have the ability to cancel for a full refund. This period is different for each company, but 10 days is a safe standard to keep in mind.
Most travel insurance companies have 2-3 plans at different premium levels, following the “good, better, best” pricing strategy. I tend to recommend plans in the middle level because they have great value– the right mix of coverage and pricing. Cheaper travel insurance plans will have lower coverage limits for medical, evacuation, baggage, and delays. They might also be missing some less popular coverages.
Travel insurance covers sudden and unforeseen events such getting sick, a death in the family, a hurricane, theft, a house fire, and more. Therefore, if you already know you will need to file a claim you cannot purchase travel insurance to cover it. The list of exclusions also includes losses as a result of war, professional sports, some hazardous activities, drug/alcohol abuse, etc.
Yes, travel insurance covers cruises. Some companies market “cruise” plans, which is a collection of coverages that are important to cruise travelers.
Yes, sort of. In the past insuring cruises insurance was popular but not necessary. For example, up to 70% of cruisers buy insurance, vs just 40% of regular travelers. But Covid has made travel insurance a requirement in many ports-of-call so it is necessary.
Yes. I recommend you purchase within 10 days of your first trip payment. If you do this, you have the most options and access to coverages like Cancel For Any Reason and Pre-existing Conditions. You can purchase travel insurance right up until departure, but if something happens that causes a cancellation, you need to already have coverage purchased.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.