Media alert issued today
Cruises remain an ever increasing popular holiday option and a fantastic way to explore multiple destinations without the hassle of airports, luggage weight restrictions and have the benefit of night time travel and fully inclusive packages widely available. However, cruising does come with its own risks.
International Travel and Healthcare (ITH), the company behind Safe Journey, the UK’s first terrorism travel insurance, and an established cruise insurance provider, has put together some top tips for those booking a cruise in 2017, whether for the first time or for cruise veterans.
Many people assume medical services are included in the price of a cruise, but the ship’s physician and medical team is a separate, chargeable practice, as would be any admittance in the ship’s medical facilities. Private medical costs are far greater at sea than on land, an EHIC won’t apply, and are usually charged in US dollars irrespective of where you are cruising, so it is worth taking a small first aid kit, a supply of over the counter medicine such as painkillers, anti-histamines, indigestion remedies etc. If you are on regular prescribed medication - ensure you have adequate supplies for the entire duration of your cruise.
Over indulgence and lethargy can have unpleasant and uncomfortable side effects, so it is better to pace yourself. Hygiene is paramount in any environment where there are a lot of people, hand sanitizers proliferate cruise ships for a good reason, so stay safe and use them whenever you see them and especially before eating.
Missed the boat?:
Missing the ship’s departure after an excursion, is a common issue for cruisers: the ship won’t wait. Make sure you know what time it is at your destination when you disembark, as crossing time zones can be confusing.
It is recommended passengers take photocopies of passports, driver's licenses and credit cards ashore with them. Also make sure you have saved the phone number for the ship, port agent and the cruise line's customer service department in your mobile phone, before you leave the ship. Allow sufficient time to return after an excursion to clear port security and re-board. Don’t be tempted to ‘cut it fine’ on timing.
Check before getting active:
Cruises offer their customers the chance to explore a myriad of new and exciting activities. While the majority of on and off shore activities should be covered by travel insurance, some, such as scuba diving, jet skiing and sea kayaking, may be excluded. Be sure to check what activities are available against your policy’s terms and conditions before you make commitments. Adventure cruises e.g. Antarctic, Arctic and the smaller ships travelling to the more remote destinations, tend to offer a more exotic choice and policies may need to be endorsed by insurers to cover some of the activities now available such as ice trekking.
All cruise companies have strict cancellation policies. Most will offer cruisers a refund if they cancel early enough, but that amount decreases sharply as departure day approaches. Passengers cancelling within a month of departure may be refused even a partial refund. Make sure your travel policy includes cancellation cover for the full value of your cruise and take out your insurance at the point that you commit to taking a cruise – don’t be tempted to leave it until you are paying the final balance – especially if the cruise is a high value one.
Cover when disaster strikes:
Nearly all travel insurance policies exclude terrorism, and if this risk is covered, it will be limited to medical expenses if you suffer an injury. It is worth considering additional insurance cover, for example a Safe Journey policy, as an add-on to your travel insurance. This will ensure a refund should you find an act of terrorism in a scheduled destination on your itinerary occurs within the 42 days before you travel or whilst travelling, if you want to curtail your trip and head home early.
Travel by cargo ship, a cheaper alternative?:
There has been a recent increase in passengers cruising by cargo ship, with the number of ships carrying passengers increasing around 20% over the past three years.
Some may be tempted to travel without the inclusive package that a cruise ship offers, but this can also mean sacrificing other amenities such as internet access and agreeing to certain restrictions such as no walking sticks allowed and keeping the bridge informed of your whereabouts. Cargo ships will also dock at the container terminals, not the cruise terminals, which can vary greatly in location and the welcome you will receive. Unique itineraries are also available; some cargo ships accepting passengers travel to the Marquesas and Tuamotu Islands.
This alternative mode of transport may offer an exciting alternative but the risks are generally the same and the above advice will apply. However, it is important to check that your travel insurance is still valid as you may need additional cover.
Kate Huet, managing director, International Travel and Healthcare comments: “Cruises are a great way to see the world in comfort and often luxury. But by visiting multiple destinations, the risk of being affected by a terrorist event increases. If one of the destinations has recently experience a terrorist event, this can lead to a disinclination to travel or continue with your trip.
“With cruise companies enforcing such strict cancellation policies and with travel insurance policies excluding claims for cancellation and curtailment in relation to terrorism, this can leave many travellers in a dilemma or significantly out of pocket. Sometimes the price for feeling safe can be expensive. We are determined to reverse this growing trend and provide travellers with another option. Safe Journey offers all travellers peace of mind that they will be financially protected should a terrorist attack occur within 40 miles of any one of the destinations on their cruise itinerary.”
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