October is National Plan a Cruise Month, putting cruise vacations in the spotlight when members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and travel agents look to boost cruise sales for the rest of 2015, 2016 and beyond.
Through October 31st, cruise lines are offering travel agents and their clients several perks, including free beverage packages, free shore excursions, credits for massages, free, pre- or post-cruise and hotel stays and shipboard credits.
While promoting the value, appeal and affordability of cruise vacations, CLIA also supports practices that foster a safe, secure and healthy cruise ship environment for more than 23 million people cruising each year.
Allianz Global Assistance, a leading provider of travel insurance and assistance, recommends that travel agents offer their clients travel insurance to protect their travel investment from losses due to a covered cancellation, travel interruptions and delays, baggage losses and medical emergencies*.
A national survey of travelers, including cruise passengers, found that 63 percent reported that they or a travel companion had become sick while on vacation. Some cruisers who become ill or injured may be treated on board for a fee, while others may require treatment or hospitalization in port. Travel insurance can provide coverage for emergency medical treatment on board a cruise ship or in port, as well as emergency medical transportation and evacuation.
Dr. William Brady, MD, Allianz Global Assistance’s U.S. Medical Director and Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Virginia, says, “Most ship doctors provide immediate medical care, but more serious emergencies require passengers to be transported to the nearest medical center for treatment.”
“During a cruise, it’s easy to forget that you’re far away from the nearest properly equipped medical facility,” says Brady. “While you might be healthy, you can’t predict when you might break an ankle, suffer a heart attack or catch the flu either on board or during a cruise excursion away from the ship.”
Activities sponsored by cruise lines are not without risk. Cruise lines may not be responsible for the actions of independent excursion companies. So before taking a cruise excursion, it’s important to know if:
- The local excursion provider is insured, licensed and properly trained
- The cruise line evaluated the reliability of the local excursion provider
- The cruise line and/or the local excursion provider disclaimed liability for injuries that passengers might sustain during excursions
Whether it’s a covered trip cancellation or a medical emergency, travel insurance can provide important benefits that can prevent cruisers from losing large deposits and will cover them for emergency medical treatment, up to the limits of their policy. It’s also important to remember that U.S. health insurance policies (including Medicare and Medicaid) may not cover international travel; those that do may not cover the cost of medical evacuation.