Cruising is a popular way to travel these days. As users pointed out during a recent CruiseChat we co-hosted on Twitter, it’s one of the easiest ways to take in multiple destinations without having to pack and unpack repeatedly, or deal with the hassles of trying to figure out how to get from place to place. And with the rise of the mega-cruise ship with amenities that make cruises into floating cities — destinations in their own right — there are increasing benefits to taking a cruise.
However, as with most other travel itineraries, it’s a good idea to plan carefully and make sure that you’ve thought about what might be at stake if something went wrong while you’re trying to enjoy your trip. Here are our top five tips for insuring a cruise, so you can make an informed decision about how to best protect yourself and the money you’ve spent on that fabulous vacation.
1. Pass on the Cruise Line’s insurance policy.
It’s all too easy to check that little box or sign on that dotted line and think that your travel insurance is all set. The reality is, the insurance sold through cruise lines (or airlines and online booking agents, for that matter) is generally a single, specific policy that was drawn up with the best interests of the cruise line in mind — not the best interests of the passengers who’ll be paying for the insurance. Think about it; are you sure you and the guy in the next deck chair share exactly the same travel plans, medical history, family history, and personal concerns? If not, then it’s not likely you can both be adequately insured by the same cookie-cutter policy. Go with a third party instead, preferably one like InsureMyTrip.com, where you can compare different insurance plans from a variety of companies. As a bonus, third-party policies not only have more complete coverage, they’re usually less expensive than what the cruise line sells.
Learn more about insuring a cruise.
2. Think Weather.
It’s not only the weather that you’ll experience on the ship that should concern you; it’s the weather that could potentially snarl your transportation options to and from the ship as well. Are you cruising during hurricane season? Are you planning a Caribbean getaway in the depths of winter, when snowstorms are likely? Travel insurance policies with coverage for trip cancellation and travel delay are probably a wise move for most cruisers, since there are so many variables along the way to paradise.
Find out how travel insurance works in bad weather.
3. Make the Connection.
What would happen if you missed your cruise ship? Cruise passengers should shop around for travel insurance policies that have a “missed connection” benefit, which can help you get caught up to your ship in the next port of call if it sails without you.
4. Make Medical Care a Priority.
Nobody wants to think about the possibility of falling ill while they’re on vacation, or getting seriously hurt and requiring emergency medical attention. The fact is, it does happen…and not to be a buzzkill, but it could happen to you. Travel Medical insurance that allows for medical evacuations, or a dedicated Emergency Medical Evacuation membership, can be especially important for cruisers, since the ship’s infirmary is probably not equipped to handle serious medical needs.
Research Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance.
5. Protect Your Valuables.
Cruise ship crime, as well as crime in popular ports of call, seems to be an unfortunate byproduct these days. Besides practicing good personal safety and securing your belongings, you might do well to get some additional travel insurance coverage just in case the unthinkable happens. Most comprehensive travel insurance plans cover loss of personal belongings and can help you to replace stolen items and personal documents. Additional identity theft coverage is a particular benefit that’s gaining popularity, and might be worth considering.
Find out if Identity Theft Insurance is right for you.
With these five basic tips, you should be able to prioritize your own needs and do a little research to find the right travel insurance plan to cover your cruise. One final word of advice: Make sure that when you compare plans, you’re really comparing “apples to apples.” Price alone is not a good indicator of the value of an insurance policy. Subtle changes to coverage, like the addition of a Cancel for Any Reason benefit, can drive up the price, but add highly valuable and desirable benefits to the plan. Know what you want, know what you’re getting, and know that when it comes to cruising, a solid travel insurance policy that benefits you, not your cruise line, is a must.