19 June 2018, 09:30

Cruise passengers could be left ‘high and dry’ without the right cover

  • GoCompare warns that not all standard travel insurance policies cover cruise holidays;
  • Only 59% of annual and 55% of single trip travel policies provide cover for cruise holidays as standard;
  • Research reveals that cover levels vary hugely for cruise specific mishaps.

Last year, a record number of British holidaymakers set sail. Just under two million* people opted for a cruise holiday in 2017 and the boom is predicted to continue this year.  However, GoCompare Travel Insurance is warning holidaymakers that standard travel insurance may not provide cover for the specific risks and activities associated with cruising.

According to travel industry figures, 14% of holidaymakers are planning a cruise in the next 12 months.  From small river boats to floating cities on the ocean waves, there’s now a cruise to suit every age group, taste and budget. 

Embarking on a cruise is a very different proposition to a traditional holiday and, as a result, traditional travel insurance can be found wanting.  The nature of a cruise holiday places different requirements on many of the key elements of travel insurance, such as cancellation cover, medical cover and baggage.  Cruises can also extend much longer than a typical two-week holiday. Therefore, people planning to embark on a cruise should look for travel insurance with features geared specially towards being on-board a ship – including compensation for cabin confinement due to illness.  

GoCompare Travel Insurance reviewed over 1,900 travel insurance policies which revealed that not all policies include cover for cruises: 

Type of policy

Cover for cruise holidays


Optional feature

Standard feature

Single trip




Annual travel




Where cruise-specific cover is provided, policies vary hugely in the financial protection they offer so, it’s important to shop around to make sure you buy a policy which covers your needs, the cost of your holiday and all the countries included on the cruise itinerary.   

Medical cover and maximum ages

From paying for an appointment with the ship’s doctor, to the costs of transportation from a ship to a nearby hospital or possible repatriation, medical costs can be higher on a cruise than on other types of holidays abroad.  According to the Association of British Insurers, it’s not uncommon for medical bills to run into six-figures.  Therefore, the recommended minimum amount of medical cover you should have is £1m for Europe and £2m for the rest of the world. 

Another important benefit of cruise insurance is that it offers extended cover for older people.  Typically, all pre-existing medical conditions will usually be covered however, it’s important to be honest and discuss these with your insurer to make sure these are covered.  Not doing so could invalidate your travel insurance.


Cruise holidays can be expensive and are often booked many months ahead. Protect your holiday investment against cancellation by arranging travel insurance around the same time as you buy your cruise.  The maximum pay-out for cancellation varies hugely between policies (£500 to £25,000 per person) so it’s important to choose a policy which covers the cost of your holiday and any pre-paid excursions booked.  

Cabin confinement

If during your cruise you can't leave your cabin due to illness or poor weather conditions, most cruise-specific policies will pay-out a daily amount.  Limits vary widely depending on the policy from £15 to £1,000.  Check the policy small print for conditions for example, a claim for confinement due to illness will probably need to be supported by a note from the ship’s medical offer.  Some policies will also reimburse the cost of pre-booked excursions which you were unable to make as a direct result of being confined to your cabin due to illness or injury.

Cruise itinerary change compensation

Some policies will compensate you for changes to cruise itineraries – for example, if adverse weather or timetable restrictions result in the cancellation of a scheduled port visit. 

Extended baggage cover

Cruise travel insurance can offer higher limits for loss of or damage to baggage.  Typically, passengers embarking in the UK are not subject to the same baggage weight restrictions as those flying abroad.  The range of activities aboard ship, along with some cruise lines’ requirements for formal dining attire can result in passengers travelling with more luggage than they would usually take abroad.  Most cruise-specific policies include cover for formal cruise attire.         

Martyn John, spokesperson for GoCompare Travel Insurance commented; “Cruising is undergoing a resurgence with operators offering holidays to suit all types of people and budgets. Part of the appeal is that cruises give passengers the opportunity to see and experience a wide range of destinations and activities - all rolled into one holiday.  If you’re embarking on a cruise it’s important to have the right travel insurance in place - one that’s tailored towards being on a ship and covers all the destinations on your itinerary, even if you're only leaving the ship for a few hours.  If you’re planning to participate in any activities, like snorkelling or golf, you’ll need to check the activities section of the policy wording to make sure you are fully covered.

“Make sure you read policy documents carefully to familiarise yourself with any exclusions and conditions applied to the policy. For example, if you’ve independently booked an on-shore excursion and you’re late returning to the ship and it sails without you – your insurance may not cover you.  Another common policy exclusion is for medical treatment required following excessive alcohol consumption.”

Read more at https://www.gocompare.com/travel-insurance/cruise-travel-insurance


For further information please contact:

Anders Nilsson/Martyn John/Louisa Marsden at GoCompare on 01633 654 054 / 01633 654 725 / 01633 655132

Gordon, Jason or Liz at MAW Communications on 01603 505 845

Keep up-to-date with GoCompare on Twitter; @GoCompare

Notes to editors

*Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Europe Market Report 2017 (March 2018): 1,969,000 people from Britain and Ireland took a cruise holiday in 2017.  ‘CLIA 2018 state of the Industry’ - Britain is the fourth largest cruise market in the world behind the US, China and Germany.

**Source: Defaqto Matrix of 973 annual travel (27 April 2018) and 954 single trip travel insurance policies (27 April 2018) – instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto. Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number.

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For more information visit www.gocompare.com and www.gocomparegroup.com

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