Prior to Covid-19 sweeping the world, the cruise industry was growing at a rapid rate both in Australia and internationally. Between 1990 and 2019, passenger numbers worldwide grew at a rate of 6.6 per cent each year and 28.5 million people took a cruise in 2019. The popularity of cruising has grown on the back of increasingly bigger and better ships which are jam-packed with things to do. Travellers also love the all-inclusive nature of cruising, great service, the tremendous value of cruising and the need to only unpack and re-pack your bags once while getting to visit multiple destinations.
While cruising is a great deal of fun that can also be enjoyed with family and friends, it is important to make sure you and your travelling party are properly insured before hopping onboard. On the off chance that something does go wrong, you could be significantly out of pocket if you are not adequately insured.
What can Cruise Travel Insurance cover?
Cruise insurance can cover you for most issues that could possibly arise on a cruise holiday.
You can be covered for overseas emergency and medical expenses if you unexpectedly become ill or suffer an injury on your trip. Most policies also cover medical evacuation and repatriation expenses, as well as unexpected cancellation of your cruise trip if you are unable to travel due to an emergency. Other things commonly covered are insurance for luggage and personal belongings, shore excursion activities and travel delays. Some cruise insurance policies even provide payments if you become sick onboard your cruise and are required to remain in cabin confinement, therefore zapping some enjoyment out of a portion of your holiday.
Cruise Insurance: Medical Costs and Emergency
All major cruise insurance policies include coverage for medical costs if you are unexpectedly injured or unexpectedly become ill while on your cruise holiday. Some policies will cover a limited number of pre-existing medical conditions, but more serious conditions are generally excluded. It is important to check the details of the policy to see if you are covered if you do have a pre-existing medical condition. Most policies will include unlimited coverage of emergency medical and hospital expenses for as well as a capped limit for overseas emergency dental treatment. Emergency evacuation and repatriation are standard inclusions, which is particularly handy on a cruise holiday.
Even the largest cruise ships only have small and limited onboard medical facilities, meaning any serious incidents need to be evacuated from the ship by helicopter or offloaded at the next port of call. In these cases, insurance could provide coverage for transport to the nearest hospital and a flight home at a later date. Additionally, cruise insurance policies often include resumption of journey, hospital cash allowance, repatriation of remains, permanent disability and loss of income coverage if you become unexpectedly ill, are injured or pass away while on your cruise holiday.
Cruise Insurance: Luggage and personal belongings
Cruise holidays are generally safe but accidents do happen and just like on land, thefts can occur. Most cruise insurance policies will cover you if you have luggage or personal effects that are lost or stolen during your cruise holiday. This can include your luggage and personal belongings’ journey getting to your ship via an airline if you are departing from an interstate or overseas destination. Some luggage and personal items such as electronics may only be covered up to certain limits. Lost or stolen passports, cash and credit cards may also be covered up to certain limits.
Cruise Insurance: Cancellation
Most cruise lines require a deposit to be paid at the time of booking a trip and full payment to be made at least 75 or 90 days before the scheduled departure date of the cruise. Many travellers will also pre-book and pay for shore excursions in advance as well as accommodation before or after a cruise and flights to and from a cruise. This could amount to many thousands of dollars in pre-paid costs. Cruise insurance can provide coverage for cancellation fees and lost deposits in the event of emergencies and unforeseen circumstances. Unforeseen circumstances can include sickness, injuries or unexpected death of you, your travel companion or a family member. Natural disasters that cause a cruise holiday to be cancelled may also be covered, while financial stresses due to the loss of a job through a redundancy is also generally considered to be an unforeseen circumstance.
Cruise Insurance: Travel Delays
Some cruise insurance policies will cover you in the event you miss your cruise departure.
Coverage may be activated if you transport to the cruise terminal is involved in an accident or poor weather conditions mean flights are cancelled.
Cruise Insurance: Other Benefits
Occasionally, poor weather conditions or natural disasters mean cruises don’t always go as planned. Some cruise insurance policies provide payments if you miss a scheduled port on your cruise under these circumstance. Some policies also provide daily payments if you are confined to your cabin or a cruise medical facility for longer than 48 hours due to injury or illness. If you take your own formal attire onboard for cruise formal nights, there may also be coverage in the event your attire is stolen, damaged or lost.
Does cruise insurance include Covid-19 coverage?
Like most travel insurance policies, Covid-19 benefits have also been added to many cruise insurance policies. These can provide coverage for emergency medical, hospital and medical evacuation expenses should you contract Covid-19 while on your cruise holiday.
Do you need insurance for cruises in Australia?
Cruise insurance for both domestic and international trips is highly recommended by cruise lines, because as soon as a ship leaves an Australian port the passengers onboard are no longer covered by Medicare. This means if you have to see a doctor while onboard the ship, it will be at your own expense if you do not have insurance. Even a quick and simple doctor’s visit on a cruise ship can cost hundreds of dollars because these visits are charged at private rates. Given the limited medical facilities onboard cruise ships, serious and urgent medical situations often need to be evacuated by helicopter, which can cost thousands of dollars even if you are on a domestic cruise and still sailing in Australian waters.
River Cruise Insurance
Cruise insurance policies will not just cover large-scale ocean cruises, but will also provide coverage on river cruises that are particularly popular in Europe. Inclusions for river cruises are generally the same as ocean cruises.
Cruise destinations from Australia
There are many different itinerates for cruises from Australia, with both domestic and international cruises offered. Cruises across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand are particularly popular and regularly depart from Sydney and Melbourne. South Pacific cruises are also well-loved by Australians looking for some fun in the sun and stop at destinations like New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji. On the domestic front, Queensland cruises to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef are common, as well as Tasmania cruises and cruises to other destinations like Kangaroo Island in South Australia. When ships that are only based in Australia for the summer months come to the end of their seasons, there are also itinerates on offer from Australia to Hawaii and the mainland of the United States. Other ships headed back to Europe often offer itinerates to Singapore and even all the way back to the Mediterranean Sea.
Why do people love cruises?
The simple answer is they are fun. Cruise ships make an effort not to be like a hotel where you check in and then are left to your own devices. They try to make the holiday an enjoyable experience for guests at every turn with friendly staff, good service and a fun and lively atmosphere. Regular cruisers also love the value-for-money that cruising represents and the ability to meet and mingle with people from all over the world. On the more premium cruise lines, the high-quality food and restaurant service is another major drawcard.
Cruisers also love the ease of unpacking your bag only once but waking up in different destinations each morning to get back on land and get exploring. Many cruise ships have plenty to do with either their facilities or activity schedules to ensure guests don’t get bored even on days where there are no port stops. Some people like to just relax with a book by the pool for an afternoon and that is certainly possible. However, other people like to keep busy with a pool volleyball competition, rock climbing, trivia or some bingo and they are catered for as well.
On a cruise, you can be as active or as inactive as you like. Many people also cruise with family and friends, with whom you can spend as much or as little time onboard with as you like.
Are cruises still all-inclusive?
Some cruise lines boast more inclusions than others, but most cruise fares will generally include the vast majority of your essentials on a cruise holiday. Food at the ship’s main dining room and buffet, accommodation and most activities and entertainment are standard inclusions across all cruise lines. Premium cruise lines also include things like drinks packages, Wi-Fi internet access, room service and even selected shore excursions as part of your fare. However, on most budget and mid-level cruise lines you can expect to pay extra for these things. Spa treatments, fitness classes, specialty dining restaurants, onboard shopping and use of your in-room phone to make calls to land are other things that generally cost extra.
Which cruise lines service Australia?
Being a big cruising market, Australia has been serviced by an increasing number of cruise lines this century. P&O Australia has the biggest permanent year-round presence in Australia and has long been a budget option enjoyed by families. Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Holland America are mid-range offerings that all have ships that operate out of Australia in the warmer months.
For more premium options, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard and Princess Cruises also have ships based in Australia across the spring and summer months. Some other smaller boutique cruise lines – like Viking, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line and Azamara Cruises – also offer limited sailings out of Australia.
What are the main cruise ports in Australia?
Sydney is Australia’s busiest cruise port and is also the most scenic, set in Sydney Harbour between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. The Overseas Passenger Terminal is ideally located only a matter of metres from Circular Quay Train Station, where trains run to and from Sydney International Airport. Sydney also has a secondary port, with the nearby White Bay Cruise Terminal. Brisbane has a new International Cruise Terminal that was completed in 2020 and is situated near Brisbane International Airport and less than 20km from the city’s central business district. Cruises out of Melbourne operate from Station Pier in Port Melbourne, about 5km south of the city’s central business district and 26km from Melbourne International Airport. Adelaide, Fremantle and Cairns are other less-frequented departure ports for cruises in Australia.
What is the best cruise ship for families in Australia?
For all-round fun and entertainment for all ages, it is hard to go past Royal Caribbean.
Royal Caribbean offers an educational and fun ‘Adventure Ocean’ kids program as well as a raft of activities onboard that will ensure the kids never get bored. The kids club is broken into six age groups with Royal Tots and Babies (6-36 months), Aquanauts (3-5 years), Explorers (6-8 years), Voyagers (9-11 years), Younger Teens (12-14 years) and Older Teens (15-17 years). Many of the line’s ships have family and kids pools and water splash parks, rock climbing walls, water slides, mini golf, zip lines and sport courts.
Some ships also have surfing simulators, indoor archery, indoor skydiving and even dodgem cars. On Royal Caribbean, all of these standard activities are included as part of your cruise fare. Carnival Cruises is also aimed at families and offers included kids clubs for children aged 2 to 17, as well as a range of included onboard facilities like splash parks, waterslides, mini golf and sports courts. P&O Australia is popular among families looking for a more budget-friendly cruise, but its ships are generally smaller and have less onboard activities.
It is also worth noting that many activities onboard P&O Australia cost extra, including things like rock climbing, laser tag and zip lining. However, the cruise line’s kids club is included as part of your fare.
What is the best cruise ship for couples in Australia?
Celebrity Cruises is targeted at adults and couples looking for a more upscale cruise experience. The line does allow kids onboard and has a kids club, but families with children is not its primary market and it therefore does not have the wide range of family-friendly activities onboard like Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises. Celebrity Cruises is an almost all-inclusive option, with a classic drinks package and wifi internet access included as part of your fare on top of your accommodation, meals in the main dining room and buffet and most activities and entertainment. The food onboard is generally a step up on some of the cheaper family-focused cruise lines, while the service is also better. Celebrity Cruises attracts mostly couples and groups of adults, ranging from young professionals and middle-aged couples to older retirees. Entertainment is solid – albeit not as good as some other cruise lines – and ships are modern and well maintained. Princess Cruises is known for having better entertainment, but has less inclusions and generally attracts an older crowd.
What is the best luxury cruise ship in Australia?
Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line are rated among the best luxury cruise lines that regularly operate out of Australia. All have smaller, boutique ships with high crew-to-guest ratios to deliver top-notch service. They are also the most all-inclusive lines, throwing in a range of inclusions that other cruise ships charge extra for.
Celebrity Cruises also adds a touch of luxury to the cruise experience, while Viking Cruises and Cunard Line are other ships are well-liked by those seeking a more premium cruise experience.
When is the best time to cruise in Australia?
Australia is home to the most cruise ships during the warmer months, between October and March. Many ships return to the United States or Europe between April and September to complete seasons during the summer months in the northern hemisphere.
Is it worth buying a drinks package on a cruise?
Deciding whether or not to purchase a drinks package is a dilemma posed by many first-time cruisers. The answer really comes down to personal preference. Cocktails on cruise ships from Australia are generally upwards of $15 alone, so if you are planning to have a couple of Piña Colada’s by the pool each day then a drinks package could work out to be value for money. Aside from alcohol, drinks packages also include things like premium coffee and tea from onboard cafes, soft drinks, fresh juices and smoothies, sports drinks and bottled water including sparkling water. The cost of a few drinks – alcoholic and non-alcoholic – can quickly add up and mean a drinks package is worthwhile. However, if you are mostly happy drinking water and some standard coffee and tea from the buffet, you can certainly get away without a drinks package.
Are cruises good value for money?
Cruises are generally considered an excellent-value holiday. Many cruises can be taken for under $200 per person, per night and some budget cruise lines even offer fares for under $100 per person per night. At a minimum for this price, you get accommodation, as much food as you can eat at the ship’s main restaurant or buffet and entertainment including live music and nightly theatre and production shows. In most parts of Australia, a budget hotel alone will set you back at least $100 for a night and a three-course dinner at a restaurant is likely to be upwards of $50 per head. So, it is easy to see what great value a cruise holiday presents and why they have become an increasingly popular travel product.
Which cabin should you book on a cruise?
Different cabins on a cruise can significantly vary in cost, so choosing which one to book can come down to your holiday budget. Inside cabins are the lowest level of cabin and – as the name suggests – they are placed on the interior of the ship with no windows or fresh air.
If you are an active person who doesn’t plan to spend much time in their room, inside cabins are generally a good way to save some money. Many ships also have “port-hole” or “ocean view” cabins, which do not have any fresh air but do offer some natural light and ocean views from the lower levels of the ship. The most common and popular option on most ships are veranda or balcony rooms, which have doors that open up to a small private deck overlooking the ocean. Larger suites and other more premium rooms on higher decks are also offered on most cruise lines.