What Type of Family Cruise Insurance Do You Need?

What Type of Insurance Do You Need for a Cruise
Source: iStok Photo

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Going on a cruise ship vacation with your family can be an incredibly fun and memorable experience. However, trips don’t always go as planned. From missed ports to injuries and illnesses, you want to make sure you have adequate travel insurance coverage in place before departing.

But with so many policy options out there, how do you know what level and type of coverage to get?

This comprehensive guide examines the key types of Family cruise insurance, what they typically cover, how much they cost, and specific recommendations based on your situation.

What Type of Insurance Do You Need for a Cruise
Source: iStok Photo

We compare the pros and cons of the main policy types side-by-side so you can easily determine what’s best for your upcoming cruise with the kids in tow.

Types of Family cruise insurance Compared

There are a few main types of trip protection plans to choose from when insuring a cruise vacation. Here we outline the key differences between them:

ServiceCruise Line InsuranceCFAR Insurance“Cancel For Any Reason” Insurance
What it coversVaries by cruise line, but usually only trip cancellation/interruption. Sometimes limited medical.Same as cruise line insurance plus “Cancel For Any Reason” coverageCancellation/interruption for any reason + other limited benefits
Cancel for any reason?NoYesYes
CostLeast expensiveMiddle-ground costMost expensive
When to buyUsually only available to purchase when final cruise payment is due30-60 days after initial trip payment/depositWithin 1-2 weeks of initial trip payment/deposit
Policy CustomizationsNone, set coverage by cruise lineVery limitedVery limited
Who handles claimsCruise lineThird party insurerThird party insurer
Ideal for…Basic cancellation/interruption protectionFlexible cancellation for things out of your controlMaximum trip flexibility and cancellation leeway

Now let’s explore each of these options in more depth:

Cruise Line Trip Insurance

Many cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line, offer basic trip cancellation/interruption coverage when you book directly with them.

The policies are convenient since they are built right into the booking process, but coverage is quite limited compared to third party insurance plans.

Here is an overview:

What Cruise Line Insurance Typically Covers

  • Trip cancellation – Gets a refund if you need to cancel for a covered reason like illness, injury, death of a family member, etc. Note policies usually exclude cancelling due to things like fear of travel, border closures, quarantines, etc. so there are limitations.
  • Trip interruption – Reimbursement if you have to cut your trip short for a covered reason

What it DOESN’T Cover

  • “Cancel for any reason” – Ability to cancel for any reason and get a future cruise credit
  • Financial default of travel suppliers – No coverage if the cruise line suspends service or goes out of business
  • Medical emergencies & evacuation abroad
  • Lost/delayed baggage
  • Travel delays like missed ports due to weather
  • Any other non-cancellation related incidents before or during the trip


Cruise line cancellation policies are the least expensive option because coverage is so limited. Expect to pay in the range of $49-$129 per person.

Exact pricing depends on:

  • Length of cruise
  • Number of travelers/cabins booked
  • Cost of cruise

Usually the daily rate ranges from about 5%-7% of total cruise fare.

When to Buy

Cruise line insurance can only be purchased when your final payment is due, which is typically 90-120 days before sailing.

You usually can’t add it after that point. So if you’re within a few months of departure, this may be your only option.

Ideal For

The main advantage of basic cruise line trip insurance is that it offers some degree of cancellation protection for covered reasons, while being affordable and easy to add when booking.

However, the policies are quite limited and restrictive.

They really only make sense financially if you are booking an inexpensive cruise, traveling alone, or purchasing insurance close to departure when options are limited.

Read Also: Best 7 Cheapest Cruise Destinations

For anything beyond basic cancellation coverage, one of the following alternatives is likely the better choice:

“Cancel For Any Reason” (CFAR) Cruise Insurance

“Cancel for any reason” trip insurance provides the highest degree of flexibility if you need to call off your cruise for reasons outside of your control.

As the name suggests, this type of policy allows you to cancel up to 2-3 days before departure for any reason at all and receive a partial trip refund, usually around 75% of amounts paid.

CFAR plans also typically bundle in basic cancellation and interruption benefits as well.

Here is an overview:

What CFAR Insurance Covers

  • Ability to cancel for any reason. Get a partial refund (typically 75%) as future cruise credit if you simply change your mind about going or cancel for an otherwise excluded reason.
  • Standard cancellation/interruption reasons like illness, injury, death, military deployment, etc. – Get 100% cash refund or credit for future travel.
  • Limited extras like travel delays or hospital benefits – But lacks comprehensive coverage of issues abroad compared to standard “cancel for covered reasons” insurance.

What It DOESN’T Cover

While very flexible for cancellation, “cancel for any reason” insurance does not provide extensive protection during your trip if:

  • An emergency happens while traveling that requires an expensive medical evacuation home
  • Baggage is lost or delayed for days
  • The cruise ship has a major mechanical failure and you miss multiple ports
  • Any other incidents and delays (besides what’s directly related to cancellation)


CFAR cruise protection is more expensive since it offers expanded cancellation flexibility. Expect to pay in the range of $125-$350 per person depending on trip cost.

The CFAR rider alone will add about 50-60% on top of the base cancellation policy cost.

When to Buy

Unlike cruise line insurance which can only be added last minute, CFAR insurance must be purchased within 1-2 weeks of your initial trip payment/deposit to qualify.

So it’s best to consider this option early if cancellation flexibility is important to you.

Ideal For

“Cancel for any reason” cruise insurance makes the most sense for travelers who:

  • Want complete flexibility to cancel or reschedule the trip for any personal reason
  • Are taking an expensive once-in-a-lifetime cruise where losing the entire prepaid cost would be devastating
  • Understand the tradeoffs – While very flexible for cancellation, CFAR insurance won’t cover emergencies or issues while traveling beyond a basic trip interruption benefit

These policies include a strong medical/evacuation component along with standard cancellation benefits, travel delays, baggage, and other key protections.

Here’s an overview:

What Comprehensive Insurance Covers

  • Trip cancellation & interruption – Get reimbursed for prepaid, non-refundable amounts if you need to cancel or cut the trip short for a wide variety of covered reasons.
  • Emergency medical & evacuation – Covers doctor visits, hospitalization, life-saving air ambulance transport, etc. while traveling internationally. Policies with a $100,000 limit or higher provide the best protection.
  • Travel delays – Reimbursement for missed ports, hotel/meals if delayed 6-12+ hours. Important given risk of cruise ship breakdowns.
  • Baggage loss, damage, delays
  • 24/7 travel assistance & concierge services

What It Typically DOESN’T Cover

  • “Cancel for any reason” – Can only cancel for specifically listed covered reasons, like illness, injury, death in the family, etc.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions – Check policy details for exclusions.


Expect to spend about 4%-8% of total prepaid, non-refundable trip costs for a comprehensive cruise policy.

So figure about $400-$800 for a $10,000 cruise vacation. Cost depends on:

  • Length of trip
  • Traveler ages
  • Total trip cost
  • Policy upgrade options

When to Buy

A key advantage of comprehensive insurance is that you can purchase it any time from initial booking up until 1-2 days before departure.

Unlike CFAR, there are no narrow purchase windows to worry about.

Ideal For

Travelers who:

  • Want robust medical and financial protection in event of costly issues and emergencies while aboard and internationally
  • Are cruising for 2+ weeks far from home where risks are greater
  • Have pre-existing health conditions that need coverage

If simply wanting enhanced cancellation flexibility but less worried about emergencies while traveling, then CFAR insurance may be sufficient.

Read Also: Best Travel Insurance for Europe

Recommended Insurance for a Cruise Vacation with Family

So in summary, here are some general best practice recommendations on cruise ship insurance for a vacation with kids and family members:

On an inexpensive, short cruise to the Caribbean?

Basic cruise line cancellation insurance may be adequate, especially if travelers are generally young and healthy.

Still consider upgrades like medical evacuation depending on health history and risk tolerance.

Taking an expensive, bucket list transatlantic or around the world cruise?

Strongly consider “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) insurance to maximize pre-departure flexibility while also having basic medical/evacuation coverage as a backup.

Be sure to purchase within the first 1-2 weeks after making an initial payment while CFAR is still available.

Read Also: Simple Guide to Solo Female Travel in Ship

Traveling with grandparents or family members with health issues?

Go with a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes robust emergency medical, medical evacuation, and other key protections.

Prioritize plans with $100,000+ limits designed specifically to cover international cruise ship travelers.

Bottom line tips when insuring a cruise with family:

  • Don’t rely solely on restrictive, limited cruise line cancellation policies
  • Make sure to include medical evacuation given remote regions ships often sail to
  • Consider CFAR or trip delay coverage to help recoup costs if ships breakdown or itineraries change
  • Read policy documents closely and ensure the entire traveling party’s specific situation is covered

Now that you understand the main options – cruise line, CFAR, and comprehensive insurance – it’s time to start shopping plans and quotes.

Be sure to work with an experienced travel insurance broker or advisor to ensure you get tailored recommendations based on your family’s specific situation and concerns.

They can explain policy fine print and exclusions while helping identify affordable plans that truly provide peace-of-mind.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Still have questions on the best way to protect that upcoming cruise with kids, grandparents, or other family members?

Here we answer some commonly asked questions on securing travel insurance for a cruise line vacation:

1. Is travel insurance really necessary for a cruise?

Absolutely – cruise ships have billions of dollars worth of machinery and complex systems working 24/7 during voyages. So things like electrical problems, plumbing leaks, propulsion issues, etc can and do happen randomly even on top lines.

Other common mishaps include missed ports due to weather, itinerary changes, rough seas causing passenger injuries, onboard illnesses, and more. Having insurance can help recoup some of the high cruise vacation investment if your trip gets interrupted or ruined.

2. What specific cruise insurance benefits are most important when traveling with family?

The top recommended coverage includes:

Emergency Medical Evacuation – To transport seriously ill/injured family members to proper hospitals that cruise ships can’t adequately handle

Cancel for Covered Reasons – Full cash reimbursement or credits if someone gets hurt beforehand or a qualified issue arises

Trip Delays – Provides some reimbursement and coverage if you miss ports or are stuck onboard

Travel Assistance Services – So you have 24/7 help while navigating issues abroad

3. Do I need specialized cruise insurance or is regular travel insurance sufficient?

You don’t necessarily need a dedicated “cruise insurance” plan. Many comprehensive travel insurance policies provide robust protection for cruises.

The key is making sure evacuation/transport coverage is included along with adequate overall limits, especially medical.

4. When’s the best time to purchase cruise ship insurance?

For maximum pre-departure flexibility, buy a CFAR policy within 1-2 weeks of your initial trip payment/deposit.

Otherwise aim for comprehensive insurance anytime between booking and final payment date, which is typically 90 days pre-departure.

Just make sure to allow a few weeks for underwriting approval if travelers have medical issues.

5. My cruise was just canceled due to COVID. What now?

Start by contacting your cruise line directly for rebooking options and refund policies.

If you purchased CFAR or Cancel for Covered Reasons insurance beforehand, file a quick claim to start the reimbursement process for any non-refundable paid portions.

Going forward, be sure to ask your insurer about enhanced COVID cancelation coverage as added peace of mind. Policies with strong Epidemic protections help significantly if viral-related issues arise down the road.

6. Does travel insurance cover family members too?

Yes! When getting quotes, simply add all immediate family members traveling with you to the policy to extend the same robust coverage.

Just confirm the ages of additional insureds fit within eligibility limits. Some insurer cut-offs are as low as age 70 while others go up to 85 years old.

7. I have family traveling from different countries – does that impact insurance?

Potentially yes. Where each traveler resides, their citizenship/nationality, age, length of trip, and other specifics all factor into pricing and coverage qualifications.

Be sure to disclose family members’ details accurately when getting quotes. Reputable insurers can accommodate complex group trips spanning multiple countries.

8. My elderly parents have pre-existing conditions. Can they still get cruise coverage?

Absolutely, just disclose all medical history accurately upfront. Insurers will likely ask detailed questions about medications, doctors, prior hospitalizations, etc. to set exclusions based on issues arising within the past 6-12 months.

While coverage may be limited for recent illnesses, policies can still provide strong protections for unexpected emergencies abroad.

Getting insured while managing health conditions just takes advanced planning. Ultimately the peace of mind is invaluable when cruising in remote regions far from home doctors.

Advertorial: This post contains sponsored content, advertisements, or affiliate links. Read our full advertorial disclosure here.

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