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If you were an avid cruiser before cruises were suspended due to the pandemic, you may be ready to stretch your sea legs again. Or you could be an aspiring cruiser ready to snag a great deal as cruise lines begin to sail again from select U.S. ports, the Caribbean and Europe.
If you’re planning a voyage on the open sea, make sure to check insurance and Covid testing requirements. Some cruise lines are mandating that you buy travel insurance if you are not vaccinated.
Whether you’re required by insurance for a cruise or not, having the right protection in place before you go is smart. Here’s a look at the best cruise insurance plans.
GoReady Choice Plan
Why we picked it: The Choice plan from GoReady has a wide range of benefits at an excellent value.
Travelers can upgrade the Choice plan to $500,000 per person for both emergency medical expenses and medical evacuation coverage. Travel delay coverage can be upgraded to $2,000 per person.
If you are still on the fence about traveling, you can add “cancel for any reason” coverage to your plan. This will allow you to get a portion of your non-refundable trip payments if you change your mind before departure.
Potential drawbacks: Baggage delay coverage of $200 after a 24-hour delay is skimpy compared to many other competitors. And if you want more than $500 of baggage loss coverage per person you’ll also have to upgrade from the basic Choice plan.
HTH Worldwide TripProtector Preferred Plan
Why we picked it: The TripProtector Preferred Plan comes with top-notch benefits and coverage limits at a good price.
If you are the type of traveler looking for generous policy limits, the Preferred Plan is worth considering. You’ll get $500,000 in emergency medical expenses and $1 million for medical evacuation per person. The plan also includes $50,000 per person for accidental death and dismemberment.
The Preferred Plan has excellent coverage for trip mishaps like travel delay ($2,000 per person) and baggage loss ($2,000 per person). You will also find trip interruption coverage of 200 percent of the trip cost more generous than competitors. And if you want even more peace of mind, you can add “cancel for any reason” coverage to the policy.
Potential drawbacks: Baggage delay coverage of $400 per person after a 12-hour delay is on the low end compared to other top competitors.
Nationwide Cruise Choice Plan
Why we picked it: Nationwide’s Cruise Choice has valuable benefits at a good price.
You will get $100,000 for emergency medical expenses and $500,000 for emergency medical evacuation per person. The plan also includes $25,000 per person for accidental death and dismemberment coverage during the trip.
Nationwide’s Cruise Choice plan includes top notch baggage loss coverage of $2,500 per person. And the missed connection coverage is generous at $1,500 per person after a delay of only three hours.
Travelers who want more flexibility can add “cancel for any reason” coverage. If you want higher policy limits, upgrade to Nationwide’s Prime or Cruise Luxury plans.
Potential drawbacks: You might find $750 per person for travel delay coverage on the low end.
Seven Corners RoundTrip Choice Plan
Why we picked it: The RoundTrip plan comes with a solid selection of benefits at an excellent price.
In addition to $100,000 in emergency medical coverage and $500,000 in emergency medical coverage per person, you will get $20,000 in non-medical evacuation coverage per person. The Choice Plan also includes $1,500 of missed connection coverage per person.
If you want even more flexibility, you can add “cancel for any reason” coverage.
Potential drawbacks: Baggage delay coverage ($500 per person) is somewhat low compared to other top competitors.
Trawick International Safe Travels Voyager Plan
Why we picked it: The Safe Travels Voyager plan has a wide range of top-notch benefits at a competitive price.
You will get $250,000 for emergency medical expenses and $1 million in medical evacuation coverage per person. The plan also includes generous travel delay coverage of $2,000 per person after a six hour delay. If your baggage is lost, you’ll have ample coverage of $2,500 per person.
Potential drawbacks: We found no major drawbacks with this plan.
What Insurance Should You Get for a Cruise?
It’s often a good idea to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance plan before any type of international travel, including a cruise. A solid travel insurance plan will financially protect you for a wide variety of travel problems:
If you need to cancel your trip for a reason covered by the policy, like injuring yourself right before the trip, you’ll want trip cancellation coverage. Also, if weather or an airline delay make you late for your cruise or if you need to cut your trip short due to a family emergency at home, both trip delay and trip interruption insurance will prove very valuable.
Baggage loss benefits can help if your luggage doesn’t make it on board your ship or if your personal belongings are stolen.
Travel medical insurance may be the most important coverage in light of the Covid pandemic. Plans that include Covid coverage can reimburse you if you contract the virus before the trip and have to cancel, or if you become sick during the trip.
Medical evacuation coverage can pay to transport you to the nearest adequate medical facility for your condition, whether it’s illness or injury.
This coverage is essential if your U.S.-based health plan has limited medical coverage outside the U.S. And Medicare doesn’t apply to health care outside the U.S. except in very limited cases.
Do You Want the Option to Cancel for Any Reason?
Meghan Walch, a spokesperson at travel insurance comparison provider InsureMyTrip, notes that standard travel insurance policies do not allow you to cancel a trip because you have worries about Covid. You also can’t cancel under a standard travel insurance policy for a change of heart, a big fight with your travel companion or a fear of getting seasick.
If you want the highest-tier of cancellation flexibility for your travel plans, splurge for a “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) coverage add-on. It adds an average of 50 percent to your insurance cost. With this upgrade you can cancel for any reason up to 48 hours before the trip. Reimbursement under a CFAR claim is generally 75 percent of the trip cost, not 100 percent.
“This is really the only way for you to recoup some of your pre-paid, non-refundable trip costs if you decide not to travel because of a spike in Covid cases,” explains Walch.
Check Travel Requirements
Check with your cruise line on requirements for vaccination, Covid testing and/or travel insurance. Rules are changing frequently.
Carnival requires unvaccinated guests on ships sailing from Florida and Texas to show proof of travel insurance. Each unvaccinated guest must have a minimum of $10,000 in medical expense coverage and $30,000 in coverage for emergency medical evacuation, both including Covid coverage. This requirement is waived for children under age 12.
Even if you’re fully vaccinated, it may be in your best interest to have a solid travel insurance policy in place. “InsureMyTrip highly recommends all cruisers purchase a travel insurance policy. Cruises can be expensive, and with the multi-leg nature of a cruise, travel insurance can help to protect your investment,” Walch says.
Erica Lamberg is a personal finance and travel writer based in suburban Philadelphia. She is a regular contributor to USA Today and her writing credits include NBC News, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, Oprah Magazine and.