I’ve taken several cruises and plenty of land vacations over the last 30 years. In all that time, I was lucky enough not to suffer any injuries or illnesses that caused me to have to cancel my trip or end one early. But I realize now just how lucky I was.  Every day I read about vacations that are ended because of illness or injury, people left stranded and asking for help to cover the cost to get home or bring a deceased loved

one back to the US. I don’t want that to be me.

Knowing the policies of the carrier you’re traveling with is paramount to making sure you’re covered should something happen. Rarely do cruise lines cover more than the basics, so supplemental travel insurance is my choice to be sure I’ve done everything I can to avoid financial ruin caused by my death or injury while cruising.

Cruises are probably more problematic than traditional land travel because they’re booked up to two years in advance. There’s a lot that can happen in two years – pregnancies, new jobs, illnesses, injuries, and more. I didn’t understand all the risks and opted out of the extra coverage on my first three cruises out of a desire to save a few dollars. Thankfully I was lucky and didn’t need the insurance on those trips, but that’s not a mistake I’ll make on my next cruise and I’ll be more careful about the type of vacation insurance I buy. There’s a lot more to worry about than just your departure, there are plenty of things that can happen during a cruise that’s unique to this type of travel and having the right insurance can make all the difference.

Onboard Problems


[pullquote align=”right”]There is very little required of cruise ships when it comes to reporting illnesses, injuries, and deaths. Some websites have devoted themselves to reporting them; however, only the CDC Outbreak Updates For International Cruise Ships lists cruise line reported illnesses and only for certain illnesses like norovirus.[/pullquote]That’s why cruise travel insurance is different and something I won’t sail without. Cruise travel covers issues beyond sailing date changes, lost excursions due to route changes and more. It can also cover medical expenses and more importantly travel home should you have to leave your cruise early. The best cruise insurance will cover your trip home for any reason, like a death or illness of someone at home. Without it, you’re left to find your own transportation home which can cost significantly higher due to the immediate departure.

Should you become ill on board, the ship’s Doctor will be the one to determine whether or not you can continue on the cruise. It was after my own illness aboard a ship that I started researching cruise lines and their liability when it comes to death and illness and stunningly I found out they really have none. If you need an emergency medical evacuation, the cost is on you. That can be thousands of dollars. If you’re put off at the next port the cost to travel home is at your expense as are any medical costs incurred on the ship or at the port.


But there’s another reason I insist on travel insurance for my adult children. Should one of them die while on a cruise, the cost to bring his body back to the US will total in the thousands of dollars. It’s an expense that their spouse/partner’s won’t be able to cover and of course we’d step in. That’s why we offer to pay for travel insurance for them because, in the end, we’re the ones that will benefit. It’s the same reason we will buy it for ourselves the next time we cruise. The thought of our children dealing with trying to pay for returning our bodies to the US  without any access to enough cash to do it is just too much to bare.

Don’t think deaths happen on cruises or they only to the elderly? Sadly, that’s not the case. Illness and injury can happen to anyone on a cruise. The close quarters makes spreading viruses and bacteria easy and cruise ship illness outbreaks make the news quite often. There are also injuries, illnesses, and even death that can happen at a port of call, while on an excursion, or on the ship itself.

Sure, the likelihood of any of these happening to you seem small, but the risk of financial ruin should they happen make travel insurance a cheap investment in your peace of mind.

Cruise Insurance

Make sure you purchase insurance that covers death and illness, especially if your cruise is leaving US waters. You’ll want to be airlifted to the closest medical center that can handle your injury. You don’t want to decide where to be treated based the cost of getting you there. Also, make sure your health insurance covers you outside of the US. If not, be sure that that’s included as well in the insurance you choose.

As you can see, there’s a lot more to insuring your life while you’re out cruising. Paying a bit more upfront can save you thousands and a lot of frustration and worry.  Hopefully you’ll never need it, but isn’t that the purpose of insurance? To take care of you just in case.

Have you purchased travel insurance for your trips?