5 Reasons Travel Insurance Is Extra Important On Cruise Ships

SingSaver team

SingSaver team

Last updated 16 November, 2022

Taking a cruise comes with unique risks unlike any other holidays, and you may need more comprehensive travel insurance for a smooth sailing experience. 

Travel has been all but cancelled over the past two years due to COVID-19. Despite vaccinations being rolled out, there's still a long time till we return to pre-COVID travel norms. If you're not quite ready to board a plane just yet, there's always the comforting thought of leaving it all behind (temporarily)... on a cruise. 

If cruises are your vacation method of choice, then beef up your travel insurance! There are plenty of terms and conditions when you agree to a cruise, and the circumstances are very different from being on solid ground. Apart from expensive WiFi, there are also unique situations that you want to be aware of before boarding. 

Here’s why you want to be extra careful with insurance on cruises.

 

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1. Medical evacuation is a top priority

If you fall ill or get injured on a cruise, you must know two things:

First, the facilities aboard the ship may not be sufficient to treat you. On most cruise ships, infirmaries are meant to treat minor injuries and illnesses or to stabilise a patient’s condition. Anyone with a serious condition, such as a heart attack or stroke, still needs to be medically evacuated to a hospital.

This is almost always done by air, and the cost can be in the range of S$10,000 to S$15,000.

Second, the medical treatment received on a cruise is "not part of the package". The fees are charged to your cabin. To make it worse, the medical staff are not part of the cruise company: they are considered independent contractors (so you can’t sue the cruise line if they’re guilty of malpractice).

You have no way of knowing how these independent contractors derive their fees. Unlike, say, a government hospital, there will be no subsidies on treatment or medication. There is also no adherence to cost guidelines, such as the ones stated by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Singapore. If the contractors choose to charge high prices, there isn’t much you can do about it.

As such, it’s important to get back to a hospital in Singapore, as soon as you can.

Make sure the travel insurance you buy provides coverage for medical evacuation. Some cheaper policies don’t provide this at all, and only have coverage for repatriation of remains (i.e. it only covers the cost of sending your body back if you pass on).

Better policies will provide coverage for medical evacuation, and some even provide unlimited coverage for this cost.

Related to this topic: 6 Best Travel Insurance Plans for Cruise-to-Nowhere Holidays (2022)

2. Bad weather can trigger delays, cancellations

Cruise ships are subject to weather hazards. Whether it’s having to take an alternate route or slow down, this can cause trip cancellations and delays.

It’s already stated in the terms and conditions that the cruise company has a right to cancel the trip (or impose a massive delay of 24 hours or more). How they’ll compensate you is up to their internal policies. You may get your money back, or you may only get a partial refund. For delays, you may get nothing; not even a voucher.

Your only way to be reimbursed for these costs is to get a good travel insurance policy. You have to buy the policy early, not on the exact day of the cruise; that way, you can be compensated if the cruise happens to be cancelled a day or two before the trip.

Remember that, unlike airlines, there’s no “alternative flight” you can be booked on (unless your intention is solely transport; but most people who book a cruise want to be on that specific cruise ship).

3. Beware of swells and waves on the high seas 

On a cruise ship, swells and high waves happen quickly and without warning. If you’re climbing a staircase when it happens, or in a corridor with nothing to grab hold of, you face a real fall risk. These are less likely to occur on a plane, as you’re seated most of the time (and will be alerted to belt in when turbulence occurs).

And while it rarely happens, do remember the risk of falling overboard. This is a risk unique to travelling by ship, and some generic insurance policies don’t cover it (check the terms and conditions).

4. Island stops may not be covered by insurance 

A common feature of many cruise itineraries is island stops. These allow you to visit various islands, where locals sell handicrafts, put on shows and you get some RnR time on dry land. 

If you are relying on non-travel insurance policies, such as a Personal Accident Policy, check if they apply during such stops. Otherwise, you may find there’s no payout for, say, a bad injury suffered while touring one of these islands.

Even if you do get travel insurance, be sure that these stops are covered.

You can choose to stay on the ship if you’re not insured for such stops, but you’d be missing out on part of the entertainment!

Related to this topic: Cruise to Nowhere 2022: Royal Caribbean Costs, Itinerary, & More

5. No immediate law enforcement on cruise ships

Prosecuting crimes on a cruise ship can be difficult, as it may not be under the legal jurisdiction of Singapore. For these reasons, your travel insurance should have good coverage against theft and injury (in case you are outright robbed or assaulted).

Be warned; some cheap forms of insurance don’t pay out anything for lost cash and have low payouts for electronics (e.g. only S$100 payout for a lost smartphone). Ensure that you at least scan through the policy wording before purchasing a plan. 

Sample coverage breakdown

travel insurance policy wording

For instance, some insurers may provide a higher benefit for "Laptops and Mobile Computers" (typically around $1,000). Whereas if you're inseparable with your smartphone, you may wish to spend a little more on a higher tier if you're not comfortable with the basic benefit limits. 

The best form of safety is to not bring valuables or cash on board (most expenses can be charged to your cabin). Only bring such items if you absolutely must, and even then, get the best travel insurance coverage (you can afford) for them.

Related to this topic: 5 Ways To Score Discounts On Your Next Cruise To Nowhere

A note on Specialised Cruise Travel Insurance

Some insurance policies are specially designed for cruises. Known as cruise insurance, these tend to come bundled with your cruise package, or are an optional purchase. Whether they're good for you really depends on your specific needs.

For instance, Starr TraveLead Cruise to Nowhere Insurance offers flexibility with three tiers of coverage - Gold, Silver, and Bronze. With medical coverage of up to S$1 million for medical expenses, and S$500,000 for accidental death and disablement, the plan also covers you up to S$1,500 for travel postponement and up to S$800 (S$100/6 hours) for travel delay. It also provides up to S$100,000 for COVID-19 related medical expenses.

Premiums (single traveller, single trip, 3-day duration): 

  • Gold: S$39
  • Silver: S$31
  • Bronze: S$24

During this time when demand for cruise travel is increasing, operators may struggle with overbooking of cruises. This is where travel insurance will come in handy. 

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Enjoy additional coverage by adding Trip or Baggage coverage for an absolute peace of mind. Increase COVID-19 medical expenses coverage and protection against trip cancellations due to COVID-19 when you select either the Gold or Silver plans. T&Cs apply.

Another plan that offers reasonably priced cruise travel and COVID-19 coverage is Tiq Travel Insurance. There are three tiers of plans as well - Luxury, Savvy, Entry. The plan covers up to S$1 million for medical expenses, and S$10,000 for post-trip medical expenses.

For COVID-19 coverage, the plan covers up to S$300,000 for medical expenses, up to S$1,500 (S$100/day) quarantine allowance, up to S$5,000 for trip cancellation, curtailment or disruption, and up to S$1,500 for travel delay.  

Premiums (single traveller, single trip, 3-day duration): 

  • Luxury: S$25.27
  • Savvy: S$22.61
  • Entry: S$13.96

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Related to this topic: 6 Best Travel Insurance Plans for Cruise-to-Nowhere Holidays (2022)


When choosing between cruise insurance and buying regular travel insurance, never assume the former is better. Check the terms and conditions carefully; it’s possible that regular travel insurance provides better payouts, or has wider coverage. When in doubt, ask your financial adviser to do a comparison.

Remember, just because it’s bundled with the cruise doesn’t mean it’s better.


Looking to receive insurance coverage on your cruise-to-nowhere? Use SingSaver's handy comparison tool to discover which insurers have travel insurance policies that cover cruises-to-nowhere. A good number of them even cover COVID-19-related travel cancellations and delays!


Protected up to specified limits by SDIC.

Note: This is only product information provided. You may wish to seek advice from a qualified adviser before buying the product. If you choose not to seek advice from a qualified adviser, you should consider whether the product is suitable for you. Buying an insurance product that are not suitable for you may impact your ability to finance your future healthcare needs.

If you decide that the policy is not suitable after purchasing the policy, you may terminate the policy in accordance with the free-look provision, if any, and the insurer may recover from you any expense incurred by the insurer in underwriting the policy.


Read these next:
Cruise To Nowhere: Is It Worth Your Money And Time?
Best Travel Insurance In Singapore (2021)
Will My Travel Insurance Cover COVID-19?
10 Prudent Things You Can Do With Your Travel Fund If COVID-19 Has Derailed Your Trip
How Different Will Travel Be Post COVID-19?

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