Cruising is growing in popularity – particularly among Kiwis, who are taking to the seas in ever increasing numbers.
However, cruising brings its own unique set of challenges that travellers need to know about before booking that dream voyage – and choosing the right travel insurance.
Here are a few things that could go wrong on a cruise and what to do if they happen to you, courtesy of Allianz Worldwide Partners New Zealand's Chief Sales Officer Will Ashcroft.
CANCELLATION OF CRUISE
A typhoon is about to hit and severe weather warnings have been issued, forcing your cruise ship to delay and potentially cancel the upcoming trip – the one you're already en-route for.
What to do: This will depend on your individual circumstances and your specific travel insurance policy. Ashcroft recommends that you familiarise yourself with your policy wording and contact your travel insurer to establish how your travel insurance policy will respond to the incident.
If you're already waiting to board the cruise at the departure point, you may be able to claim for additional accommodation or flight changes resulting from the interruption to your plans and a refund on your cruise if applicable.
You have flown to your cruise departure point, but your suitcase goes missing during the journey. It is going to take a few days for your airline to return your bag, leaving you without the essentials for your cruise.
What to do: A travel insurance policy will usually include a luggage and personal effects benefit which will allow you to buy emergency supplies, such as toiletries and clothing. However, the amount you are covered for depends on your excess, the level of cover available under the benefit, the value of the possessions and how long the bag is missing.
If your luggage is not found and a claim is made for lost baggage, the covered costs of the items already purchased to buy emergency supplies will be deducted from the total luggage amount payable.
MISS THE BOAT
You're out enjoying a day trip on shore but something goes wrong and you don't manage to make it back in time before the cruise departs.
What to do: If the fault is yours, and not as a result of any special, unique or unexpected circumstances, then it is up to you to make the necessary arrangements to get to the next port of call and rejoin the cruise.
If on the other hand there was a significant factor that resulted in you missing the boat, such as an emergency causing you to receive medical treatment, or if your bag and passport were stolen meaning you are unable to pass through customs, you may be eligible for cover from your travel insurance provider.
In this instance, your policy may cover your transport to the boat, or the next port, whichever is determined to be the most appropriate, as well as accommodation if there is an overnight delay.
THEFT ON BOARD
On the rare occasion that something is stolen from you on board your cruise ship, the fact that you're at sea, possibly in international waters, can pose a problem.
What to do: You will need to report the theft to a suitable authority on board the ship, who will provide you with written documentation detailing the incident so that you have evidence in order to make a claim.
If you're travelling with expensive items like laptops, cameras, heirloom jewellery or other costly personal possessions, you will need to ensure each item is specified in your travel insurance policy and that the value specified matches the current market value of the item. You should also take advantage of the room safe.
ILLNESS AT SEA
There's nothing worse than being sick on a holiday, let alone being sick on a boat and stuck in the middle of the ocean.
What to do: If you have a minor ailment affecting you, such as sea sickness, food poisoning, a general cold or flu, or you have fallen and injured yourself, make a request to see the on-board doctor. They may be able to treat you immediately.
If your symptoms are more serious, and you require hospital or specialist treatment back on land, your travel insurance provider might arrange this through their emergency assistance team and in consultation with the doctors on board, even going as far as to re-connect you with the cruise once you're well enough and have been accepted back on board by the Captain.
Depending on the cost of your medical illness, your insurer might decide to pay for your medical treatment directly with the provider. If not, keep a record of your medical reports and receipts so that these can be used in the event that you need to make a claim on your return home.
Travelling can exacerbate pre-existing conditions, so make sure you're honest and thorough when declaring these at the time of purchasing travel insurance to ensure there's no dispute or added stress in the event that you might need emergency assistance.