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CRUISE FUN: Togs, cash, dress up clothes and a willingness to have fun and relax are not the most important thing to pack when you go cruising.
CRUISE FUN: Togs, cash, dress up clothes and a willingness to have fun and relax are not the most important thing to pack when you go cruising. John McCutcheon

The most important item to pack on a cruise

IN recent years, more and more travellers are opting to set sail on cruises rather than travel on land when holidaying. This sea change is especially true of travellers over 55.

However, although it's clear seniors and retirees are ditching their plane seats in favour of waterside deck chairs, their understanding of the importance of cruise travel insurance can sometimes be a little murky.

To help ensure you're aptly prepared for your next sea voyage, here are the answers to four of the most common queries about cruise travel insurance.

#1. What does cruise travel insurance cover?

Cruise travel insurance includes many of the key benefits you would find with general international travel insurance plans, including protection from the financial consequences of flight delays, lost baggage, medical emergencies, and more. However, the addition of cruise travel insurance is tailored to waterside travel.

"In addition to receiving cover for lost or stolen valuables, luggage that misses the boat, cancellation costs and more, cruise travel insurance also provides protection in the event you need medical care while onboard or if you need an immediate emergency evacuation," explains Cover-More's Mike Stein.

Think you're immune to unexpected onboard events? "In 2018, Cover-More paid out almost 2000 cruise-related claims, and we've already approved 1123 cruise-related claims in the first half of 2019," adds Mike Stein.

#2. Will Medicare cover me if I'm on a cruise in Australian waters?

Despite what many travellers believe, Medicare will not cover the costs for you to access the doctor if you're cruising around Australia and not going anywhere else. For example, a cruise from Sydney to Perth or a short cruise from an Australian port out to sea for a few days and back. When you're not tied up in an Australian port or when you are outside an inland waterway, Medicare doesn't cover your medical costs."If you get sick on board the ship, you're not covered by Medicare," says Mike Stein. "It requires payment by the individual or the insurance company."

Thankfully, cruise travel insurance may help ensure you're not left high and dry should you need treatment on board or require medical evacuation, which doesn't come cheap. "Because Australia is large and you're often cruising in far flung locations, many of our repatriations cost more than $50,000-$60,000, and that doesn't even include the cost of the care itself," Mike Stein said.

#3. How much does cruise travel insurance cost?

The cost of purchasing cruise travel insurance is generally insignificant compared to the fees you could potentially incur in the event of an unexpected emergency or if you injure yourself. "This is especially true for senior travellers, who are more likely to have pre-existing medical conditions that may require costly treatment," explains Mike Stein. "So be sure to disclose them when purchasing cruise travel insurance."

In 2018, Cover-More's cruise-related claims totalled more than $1.5 million, and so far in 2019 more than $925,000 worth of cruise-related claims have been paid. "We also had a $56,000 claim in January 2019 for a cruise cancellation, so it pays to be protected," says Mike Stein.

Cover-More's Cruise cover is an extra benefit you can add on to your normal travel insurance plan at a cost dependent on a few factors which include how many travellers need cover, the duration of your cruise, and the ages of you and your fellow travellers. The good news: it only takes a few seconds to get a quote.

#4. When should you buy cruise travel insurance?

Unfortunately, cruise travel insurance cannot be purchased once you've already set sail on your trip. This includes if you need to take a plane or any other form of transportation to get to your departing port. That's why it's recommended to buy cruise travel insurance prior to your departure. In fact, it's best to purchase a policy as soon as the deposit is paid or the cruise is paid in full, as cancellation cover starts from the moment the policy is purchased.

Want to receive a free cruise travel insurance quote or learn more about Cover-More Cruise cover? Visit covermore.com.au or call 1300 72 88 22 today!