Where You Should Never Buy Travel Insurance for a Cruise

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No matter how well you prepare, the truth is that your travel plans are largely dependent on some factors you can’t control (think: getting sick, your travel provider going out of business, bad weather and even natural disasters).

That’s why if you’re booking an expensive tour or any cruise, money expert Clark Howard always wants you to buy travel insurance.

“If you book a tour or you book a cruise — those two in particular — if you’re going to lose all your money regardless of why you can’t come, then you need to get insurance,” Clark says.

But there’s something very important that Clark wants you to know about where you get your coverage from.

Where NOT To Buy Travel Insurance

Never buy your travel insurance from a cruise line.

“Over and over again, people end up losing all their money having bought the fake-junk-pretend insurance from the cruise line,” Clark says.

He says one of the most abusive things the cruise industry is doing is carrying on a charade in which if you buy your airfare from them via a package deal — usually at an inflated price — then something goes wrong with the flight and you don’t make it in time for the cruise, you’re supposed to be covered.

“Normally what they do is say, ‘Oh well, you lost that part of the cruise, but we’ll fly you to the next port,” Clark says, “but then they don’t do that.”

The result is that the customer ends up missing their cruise and a bunch of money — all because they bought travel insurance through the cruise line.

Where To Buy Travel Insurance

Clark wants you to purchase travel insurance from an independent company that is separate from the cruise line. While there are some instances where it doesn’t make sense to buy “cancel for any reason” travel insurance, when it comes to cruises, you want this comprehensive coverage.

“When you buy trip insurance for a cruise, and this also could apply to expensive tours where you lose your money if you don’t go, buy trip insurance with cancel for any reason coverage,” Clark says.

“It’s additional,” Clark says. “It won’t give you back 100% of your money, but usually it will be 50%, 60%, 75% or 80% of the money depending on what level of coverage you buy.”


Read our in-depth guide on cancel for any reason coverage to see whether it works for you.

Clark’s Rules for a Cruise

In addition to health, weather, and the possibility of your cruise line going out of business, Clark says airline cancellations could delay you getting to your port. To make sure you are covered, Clark has a few recommendations:

Pay the Right Way

Cruise lines may try to get you to pay via electronic check, or e-check as they put it, or another way. Clark says there’s only one way to pay for a cruise.

“I always want you to pay for a cruise with a credit card, never with a debit card,” Clark says.

Aside from the chance to possibly cash in on the perks associated with a rewards credit card, Clark says given the financial difficulties the cruise industry has faced lately, going belly up is not entirely out of the question for one of its companies. If that happens, it may be nearly impossible to get your money back if you’ve paid with an e-check.

Read up on why Clark says paying with a debit card for anything is a no-no.

Fly In One or Two Days in Advance

To make sure you don’t miss your cruise, consider flying in early. For example, if your cruise is supposed to depart on a Monday, you need to fly into port no later than Sunday.

  • Domestic: “I want you to build a buffer in, where you get to wherever you’re going on the cruise, domestic, one full day early, so that you don’t have to risk and sweat that that ship is going out without you,” Clark says.
  • International: “Two days before,” Clark says. “So what, you get to spend a couple of days in Greece or Italy, or whatever before you go on the sailing, so long as you’re there before the ship leaves.”

Never Buy Travel Insurance From a Cruise Line

“Don’t ever fall for the con of pretend cruise coverage, pseudo insurance from the cruise line. Buy an independent trip insurance policy,” Clark says. “And make sure it covers the eventual circumstances that you’re worried about.”

Final Thoughts

Clark says the cruise industry is notorious for selling travel insurance but not following through on its terms. Instead of insuring your trip through the cruise lines, Clark says, “Buy independent policies.”

Where should you buy travel insurance? Clark says, “There are some big websites where you can see policies from many different companies. InsureMyTrip is the biggest but there are others.”

When it’s time to shop for travel insurance, Clark says utilize these tips:

  • Do your research: “Read the terms of what’s important to you,” he says.
  • Read the fine print: Look specifically at what events (natural disasters, etc.) are covered and not covered.
  • Shop around: “Compare one to another and another and another,” he says.

“Remember the rule: Do not buy fake trip pretend insurance from the cruise line,” he says.


Got more questions about travel insurance? Read our InsureMyTrip review.


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