How to sail through a cruise

By Sally Grandy

5 minutes

12 June 2018

How to sail through a cruise

Things to consider when buying travel insurance for a cruise.

We are a nation of cruise lovers. Statistics released by the Cruise Lines International Association of Australasia show that in 2018, 1.34 million Australians took a cruise.

“It’s big business, we’ve seen 18 cruise vessels docking in Fremantle over the past summer season,” says HBF travel insurance spokesperson, John Martelli.

“Australia has the world’s largest share of cruise travellers considering its population and it’s no longer a holiday just for retirees, with HBF Research showing 31.2 per cent of those holidaying on cruise ships are aged 40 or under.”

No matter what your age, or port of departure, don’t be caught out of your depth. Consider these things when purchasing travel insurance for a cruise:

You’re not in Australia, even though you’re just off the coast

You may decide to sail off Australian waters but one of the biggest misconceptions is that you will be covered by Medicare. It’s a quirk that trips some people up.

“The Australian national healthcare system only covers you for up to 12 nautical miles, which is 22km away from land,” Martelli said.

“It means that for the majority of your trip, if you fall ill – unless you have private travel insurance – you could face a hefty bill.”

Vessels, and the doctors and nurses on board, are usually registered overseas, so once you are outside Australian waters, any treatment may be deemed private and you may have to pay for it.

Ensure that your travel insurance covers you for medical bills incurred overseas, even though you may be cruising just off Australian land.

Make medical cover your top priority

It’s no secret that there are plenty of hazards on a cruise ship, and infectious diseases can spread rapidly.  However, the large medical costs associated with falling ill on a cruise can be attributed to international medical costs, rather than the medical condition itself. 

Provided you have the appropriate travel cover, costs may be reimbursed if you have an unexpected medical emergency, often in extreme situations. “One woman who took out insurance with HBF Travel Insurance was on a 10-week cruise around the United States. It ran aground in Alaska due to a glacier and she fell and fractured her back,” Martelli said.

“She spent five days in an Alaskan hospital, then a further week in a Vancouver hospital, before eventually flying back to Australia in business class with her husband because of her back injuries.

“The total cost for all this was $65,000.  She paid just $1,000 for her travel insurance policy so it was money well spent.”

It is important to note that if you take a tumble on a cruise ship, travel insurance may only cover you for the care you receive while you’re away.

If you arrive back home and encounter other related medical expenses on your return, you may be responsible for these bills.

Your claim can depend on whether you’re on land or at sea

There are different measures that you’ll need to take when making a travel insurance claim, depending on whether you are on land or at sea.

The good news is that international travel insurance should cover you while cruising or on land, provided your insurance covers you for the location in which an incident occurs.

A cruising holiday can be a relaxing experience, and a good travel insurance policy will keep you protected against most unexpected events.

Remember as soon as you depart home soil you’re probably ‘overseas’ so enjoy the sights and make it a memorable cruise holiday for all the right reasons by taking out cruise-appropriate insurance.

Get well covered for the journey

We’ll be there to help protect you on your next adventure. Choose from our four travel cover options to suit your destination and budget.

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This article is sponsored by HBF Travel Insurance.
HBF Travel Insurance is issued by Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 (IAL) trading as CGU Insurance.  HBF Health Limited ABN 11 126 884 786 is an authorised representative of IAL. Any advice provided is general only. Always consider the PDS available from to see if the product is right for you.