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Which travel insurers cover you for cruises?

Cruises are officially back on the cards and people are queuing up to get on board. Here's how to make sure you're covered.

Last updated: 24 November 2023


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Need to know

  • Most travel insurers cover cruises but there are some exclusions and fine print to be aware of
  • For example, you won't be able to claim for events that occur because you've had too much to drink
  • You need to make sure you declare your pre-existing medical conditions

With the restrictions on cruises finally lifted post-pandemic, the industry has bounced back in a big way this year and is more popular than ever.

But some people lost thousands of dollars on cancelled cruises during the COVID-19 travel bans and some cruise lines might not even let you on board without travel insurance.

So if you're planning a cruise, read on to discover how to choose the travel insurance policy that's best for you.

Travel insurance for overseas cruises

Most travel insurers cover international cruises that start and end in Australia, usually as an optional extra (we haven't looked at cover for cruises that start and/or end overseas). 

Some providers also offer tailored cruise travel insurance, which can give you access to additional inclusions that are unique to cruising and that may not be covered in standard policies, such as cover for missed ports, missed departures, or cabin confinement due to illness.

Which travel insurers cover international cruises?

When choosing a policy, it's important to make sure the region you're visiting is covered and that it suits your needs and itinerary.

Insurer – Policy Age limit (inclusive) Cruise cover
AHM – Comprehensive (Zurich) 85 Optional
AHM – Medical Only (Zurich) 85 Optional
Allianz – Basic (Allianz) 74 No
Allianz – Comprehensive (Allianz) Unlimited Optional
Bupa – Comprehensive (Allianz) Unlimited Optional
Bupa – Essentials (Allianz) 74 No
Cover-More – Basic (Zurich) 99 Optional
Cover-More – Comprehensive (Zurich) 99 Optional
Cover-More – Comprehensive Plus (Zurich) 99 Optional
FastCover – Standard Saver (Lloyds) 89 Optional
FastCover – Basics (Lloyds) 89 Optional
FastCover – Comprehensive (Lloyds) 89 Optional
Flight Centre – YourCover Essentials (Zurich) Unlimited Optional
Flight Centre – YourCover Plus (Zurich) Unlimited Optional
Go Insurance – Go Plus (Lloyds) 75 Optional
Go Insurance – Go Basic (Lloyds) 75 Optional
InsureandGo – Bare Essentials (Mitsui Sumitomo) 79 Optional
InsureandGo – Gold (Mitsui Sumitomo) 100 Optional
InsureandGo – Silver (Mitsui Sumitomo) 100 Optional
Medibank – Comprehensive Travel Insurance (Zurich) 99 Optional
Medibank – Medical Only Travel Insurance (Zurich) 99 Optional
NRMA – Essentials (Zurich) 69 Optional
NRMA – Comprehensive (Zurich) 99 Optional
NRMA (NT, SA, WA) – Essentials (IAG) 84 Optional
NRMA (NT, SA, WA) – Premium (IAG) 84 Optional
NRMA (NT, SA, WA) – Platinum (IAG) 84 Optional
Simply Travel Insurance – Comprehensive (Allianz) Unlimited Optional
Simply Travel Insurance – Essentials (Allianz) 74 No
Tick Travel Insurance – Top (Mitsui Sumitomo) 100 No
Tick Travel Insurance – Budget (Mitsui Sumitomo) 79 No
Tick Travel Insurance – Standard (Mitsui Sumitomo) 100 No
Tick Travel Insurance – Basic (Mitsui Sumitomo) 69 No
Virgin Australia – Travel Safe Plus International (Zurich) 99 Optional
Virgin Australia – Travel Safe International (Zurich) 99 Optional
Webjet – Travel Safe International (Zurich) 99 Optional
Webjet – Travel Safe Plus International (Zurich) 99 Optional
Worldcare – Comprehensive (Allianz) Unlimited Optional
Worldcare – Essential (Allianz) 74 No
World2Cover – Basics (Tokio Marine) 75 Optional
World2Cover – Essentials (Tokio Marine) 75 Optional
World2Cover – Top (Tokio Marine) 75 Optional

What cruise travel insurance won't cover

Check the policy age limit, as some policies cover you up to the age of 100 but others only cover you up to 69. 

It's also worth noting that if you want cancellation coverage in case a relative in Australia becomes ill or dies, the relative will also need to meet the age limit on the policy and satisfy the existing medical condition requirements.

Australian authorities no longer require people to prove they've had a COVID-19 vaccination in order to board, but it may be required for some destinations such as New Caledonia, and cruise ships are still a higher risk setting for diseases like gastroenteritis and respiratory infections, including influenza (flu) and COVID-19. So check if you have medical and cancellation cover for COVID-19 and other illnesses.

Existing medical conditions and pregnancy

As with other types of travel insurance, some pre-existing medical conditions may not be covered, and others will need to be disclosed in order to be covered. If in doubt, contact the insurer to discuss your needs.

It's also worth noting that pregnancy is considered an existing medical condition. Some insurance policies cover pregnancy up to 30 weeks, but most cruise lines won't allow you on board if you're more than 24 weeks pregnant.

What you need to know about travel insurance for cruises

Travel insurance and alcohol

Some people liken cruises to a floating RSL club, but the combination of alcohol and a seagoing vessel can cause accidents. 

In an Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) case, Phil* fell down a flight of stairs on a cruise ship and suffered a moderate brain injury, skull fracture and right lung contusion.

All travel insurers have a clause that excludes cover for claims resulting from a person being under the influence of alcohol

Phil said the area was not well lit and the steps would have been slippery, while his wife said he was walking steadily. He was taken to a hospital in Austria and a test showed that he had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.198%.

The insurer had an exclusion for "any conduct engaged in whilst under the influence or effect of alcohol or drugs", and AFCA sided with the insurer, determining that Phil's claim for expenses should be denied.

All travel insurers have a similar clause that excludes cover for claims resulting from a person being under the influence of alcohol.

* Not their real name. Policyholder names are not disclosed in AFCA case records.

Do I need insurance for Australian cruises?

Even if you book a cruise that won't be leaving Australian waters, you may still need travel insurance as shipboard medical expenses might not be covered by Medicare. Check that your travel insurance does cover medical costs – you may need international or cruise-specific insurance. Domestic travel or health insurance won't cut it.

Doctors working on cruise ships don't need Medicare provider numbers, so check with your cruise line if they have a Medicare doctor on board. If they don't, and they treat you, you can't claim on Medicare or your private health insurance, even though you never left Australia. 

Domestic travel insurance doesn't cover medical costs, so you'd need either international travel insurance (check that it covers domestic cruises) or special 'domestic cruise' insurance, which is available from a few select insurers.

When to buy travel insurance for a cruise

Cruises are often booked well ahead of time, so you could be forgiven for forgetting or delaying the purchase of your travel insurance. But if your cruise is cancelled ahead of time and you don't yet have cover, you could lose your money. The earlier you buy the policy, the better.

On the flip side, there aren't many insurers that cover you more than a year out from starting your trip. If you book your trip more than a year out, shop around for a policy that will cover you.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.