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Cruising is one of America's favorite travel experiences. According to a 2021 report from Cruise Lines International Association, an industry trade association, 82% of cruisers will cruise again. As well, 62% of non-cruisers are open to the idea.
And why not? Cruises often give travelers the chance to experience multiple destinations plus enjoy onboard entertainment, activities and dining for a set, all-inclusive price. Cruises simplify budgeting in a year when travel prices have been hard hit by inflation.
But what happens if something goes wrong with your ship, or you can’t make it onboard because of health concerns? Cruise travel insurance might be the answer. It protects your payment and covers you against illness or injury.
Before you pay for a cruise travel insurance policy, here's a look at what it is, how it works and if it's worth it.
What is cruise travel insurance?
Cruise travel insurance is add-on insurance coverage that — just like travel insurance — will reimburse you for delays, interruptions, medical situations or other problems during the cruise.
Depending on which cruise line you're traveling with, you might be able to buy a travel insurance policy when booking your trip (through the cruise line directly) or at a later date (either through the cruise line or separately from a third party).
Protecting travel costs can be a smart money move. A September 2022 survey of 737 past cruisers by InsureMyTrip found that the average trip cost for an insured cruise vacation so far this year is $6,367, an increase of nearly 15% from before the pandemic.
Can you buy travel insurance after booking a cruise? It depends. Some cruise lines require the purchase of a travel insurance policy before the final payment date when charges become nonrefundable. Others require the purchase of coverage a certain number of days before departure. Read the fine print to find out the deadline to purchase and the specifics of its coverage.
What does cruise travel insurance cover typically?
Circumstances covered by cruise travel insurance vary by policy and by issuer. Many cruise lines partner with an insurance company to underwrite its policy benefits.
Some common benefits available as part of travel insurance from a cruise line include:
Trip cancellation and interruption. If you cancel your trip or unexpectedly cut it short for an eligible reason, such as severe weather or illness, you'll get back some or all of the upfront costs, depending on the policy.
Cancel For Any Reason. This coverage tends to be more flexible, forgiving and expensive at time of purchase. Policyholders can cancel for any reason not listed in the policy and still receive a portion of their trip cost back, either as cash or as a future cruise credit (assuming they meet other eligibility requirements).
Trip delay. Cruise delay insurance protection protects expenses if your trip is delayed beyond a set number of hours.
Baggage protection. This insures your luggage if it is lost, stolen, damaged or delayed, and gives money to buy necessary items until bags are recovered.
Medical coverage. If you get sick or injured during the trip, the policy covers treatment and related expenses up to a limit.
Emergency evacuation. When emergency evacuation is necessary, the policy covers the transport cost up to a limit.
COVID coverage. If your trip is canceled or interrupted due to COVID, the policy covers the unused prepaid expenses, medical treatment and emergency evacuation, up to policy limits.
When comparing policies, choose a policy that includes all of the benefits, protections and coverage limits that are important to you. While you may be tempted to choose the lowest-priced option, that policy may not have the coverage you need.
How much is travel insurance for a cruise?
We examined cruise insurance prices for a seven-day trip in February 2023 from the U.S. to Mexico. The example traveler was 35 years old, from Georgia, and planned to spend $2,500 on the trip, including airfare.
The average price of each company’s most basic coverage plan was $124. These policies didn't include optional add-ons, such as Cancel for Any Reason coverage or coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.
Travel insurance provider
Total trip estimated cost
Basic coverage cost
Travel Guard by AIG
Travelex Insurance Services
Separately, we looked at five different cruise insurance add-ons for a similar trip. With this option, the average cost of basic coverage was cheaper than a standalone policy at $111.20. Keep in mind that cruise insurance policies offered by cruise lines typically cover the cruise portion of the trip only, but do include some Cancel For Any Reason coverage.
Cruise insurance plan
Basic coverage cost
Disney Cruise Line Vacation Protection Plan
Norwegian Cruise Line BookSafe Travel Protection
Carnival Vacation Protection
Princess Vacation Protection
Royal Caribbean Vacation Protection
Do I need it if I have other travel protections?
If you already have a standalone travel insurance policy or a credit card with travel protections, you may wonder if you need to purchase a cruise travel insurance policy.
Credit card travel insurance
Many travel credit cards include travel protections such as trip cancellation, interruption, delayed or lost luggage reimbursement, and emergency evacuation benefits. Before buying a cruise travel policy, compare the coverage benefits and limits to determine if you already have coverage with a credit card.
One benefit that cruise travel insurance policies offer that credit cards don't is the ability to cancel for any reason. Although you may not get back 100% of the cruise price, these policies allow you to cancel for any reason and get a portion of the price back as a credit toward a future trip. If the policy is priced low enough, it may be worth buying the insurance offered through your cruise line for that benefit alone.
Travel insurance policy
Standalone travel insurance policies can be purchased to cover one person or a family for a specific trip or multiple trips within a period of time. These policies are available at a variety of price points to meet a traveler's budget. When comparing policy options, you can balance price versus coverage options.
If you're traveling multiple times within a short period of time, it may be more economical to buy a more comprehensive travel insurance policy instead of separate policies for each trip.
Is cruise travel insurance worth it?
Cruise travel insurance can be worth it to address your concerns about traveling and protect your investments. These policies offer numerous protections that will cover your expenses in case your trip is canceled, interrupted or delayed, or if you get sick during the trip.
Before buying this coverage, compare your options against your credit card benefits. You might also shop for general travel insurance policies to see if you can get a better deal than what’s offered through your cruise line.
If you’re not covered by your credit card, cruise travel insurance can be worth the added cost. It will give you peace of mind before setting sail, when signing up for that adventurous land excursion and when clicking "Book" for an expensive vacation in the COVID travel landscape.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card