Skip to Content

You NEED Travel Insurance For a British Isles Cruise – Here’s How to Get it

If you are taking a British Isles cruise and are from Britain you may be wondering if you need travel insurance. I have taken a British Isles cruise and experienced first hand the benefits of travel insurance on this cruise.

In this post we will look at:

  • Why you need travel insurance for a British Isles cruise
  • What you need to be included in your travel insurance policy
  • How to find and book a policy to suit your budget and needs

Do You Need Travel Insurance For a British Isles Cruise?

All guests taking a British Isles cruise need to have travel insurance. Even guests who are British residents need travel insurance to cruise the British Isles. Many cruise lines have made travel insurance mandatory and guests will be denied boarding without a valid policy in place.

Travel insurance policies vary dramatically in price and inclusions, it’s important to find the right policy to suit your needs and budget.

travel insurance claim form

Why do You Need Travel Insurance for a British Isles Cruise?

If you are from Britain you may be wondering why you need travel insurance for a British Isles cruise that doesn’t travel into international waters.

The main reason why you need travel insurance for a British Isles cruise is because of the high costs of medical care on cruise ships and the risk of needing to be transported to land. If an accident did happen at sea the medical expenses can be astronomical.

If a cruise ship has to be diverted or a helicopter used to take a guest to land this can easily reach hundreds of thousands of pounds. If a guest didn’t have travel insurance they would be liable for this amount and the expenses could easily bankrupt a family.

The NHS treatment that we receive in UK hospitals may be free, but getting to the hospital isn’t.

What does Cruise Travel Insurance Cover?

Cruise travel insurance covers medical expenses, repatriation, and costs incurred from cancellations. Cruise travel insurance can include cabin confinement and missed port cover if purchased at an additional cost.

Some of the most important inclusions are as follows:


The majority of travel insurance policies cover cancellations. If your cruise was cancelled by the cruise line they would refund your fare but other things such as travel costs, hotels, car parking, etc would not be covered. Travel insurance would allow you to claim refunds on expenses such as these.

This is particularly important since the coronavirus outbreak as cruise cancellations are more popular.

Lost or Damaged Luggage

If your luggage is damaged on the ship or during your journey many travel insurance policies will cover replacement items or will refund you the costs.

This cover may also help you if your passport was lost and you incurred costs because of this.

suitcase packing

Cabin Confinement

Many travel insurance policies will include what is called ‘cabin confinement’ cover. This means that guests would recieve a set amount of money per day if they were confined to their cabins due to illness.

This illness would need to be recognised by the onboard medical centre and is designed to make up for any loss of enjoyment.

I’m sure the majority of people would prefer to be out enjoying their cruise but this can be a welcome surprise for guests who do fall sick when cruising.

Port Cancellation

Port cancellation cover is usually an add on to cover that comes at an extra cost. If you have port cancellation cover in a policy and for any reason a scheduled port stop is cancelled you may be able to claim a fixed amount per port.

It is never nice to have a port cancelled but unfortunately this is a very common occurrence. I would say around a quarter of the cruises that I have been on have had some sort of itinerary change or cancellation.

Common reasons for itinerary changes/cancellations include:

  • Weather (bad weather may cause a cruise ship to skip a port or substitute another)
  • Political Unrest
  • Ports Full (believe it or not this does happen)

To learn more about how to claim for a port cancellation, check out this post: Do You Get Compensation For Missed Cruise Ports?

Medical Expenses

All travel insurance policies will include medical expenses. Each policy usually has a maximum amount that it will cover in regards to medical expenses but this is often into the millions of pounds.

Your medical expenses will be paid by your travel insurance but in some situations the guest may be required to pay the expenses and then claim them back after the cruise.

This tends to happen in the case of minor injuries with major injury claims being sorted with the travel insurer directly.

Cruise ships do have medical centres and doctors on board. To learn more about where you can buy medicine on cruises, and how much you can expect to pay, check out this post: Cruise Ships Don’t Have Full Pharmacies on Board – Here’s What They Have.

What Are The Main Types of Cruise Travel Insurance?

Annual Policies

For guests that cruise frequently an annual policy is usually a good option. This is what I usually go for as I travel multiple times per year.

It’s important to remember that if you do select this policy you will need to select the countries that you will visit on ALL cruises when purchasing.

I would recommend purchasing worldwide cover with no exclusions as you may not know in advance where you plan to travel to. If you purchased an annual policy for Europe then booked a trip to Australia, you would not be covered.

One-Trip Policies

For guests who only travel once or twice a year a one-trip policy is usually the best option.

When buying a one-trip policy you will be asked to fill in your travel dates, some information about yourself, and which countries you will be visiting.

emma cruises
Me on a British Isles Cruise

Things to Remember When Buying British Isles Travel Insurance

Always Purchase ‘Cruise Cover’

The most important thing that you need to remember is to buy a policy that includes cruise cover. This is often an add-on or a box than you need to tick when purchasing travel insurance. Without this addition you would not be covered for any expenses during the trip.

Many websites will ask you if you need cruise cover at the start of the quoting process. Do not forget this step!

Declare Existing Medical Conditions

The most common reason why insurance requests are denied is because of undeclared medical expenses. All illnesses, ongoing tests, and past conditions must be declared.

It is MUCH better to mention more than less, if you are unsure whether a medication or medical issue is worth mentioning, do it.

When Should You Buy Travel Insurance For a Cruise?

Travel insurance for a cruise should be bought as soon as the cruise is booked. The travel insurance comes into effect as soon as it is purchased. This means that if the cruise was cancelled it would be covered by travel insurance.

The price of travel insurance doesn’t get cheaper closer to the sailing date so there really is no reason to put of purchasing insurance.

How to Buy Travel Insurance For a British Isles Cruise

To buy travel insurance for a cruise I would always recommend using a comparison website like MoneySupermarket. MoneySupermarket allows you to enter your details once but to get multiple quotes from different companies.

You’re also able to save your quotes so you can come back later or repurchase cover at a later date. It’s completely free to use and only takes a couple of minutes.

All travel insurance quotes from MoneySuperMarket cover emergency medical expenses and repatriation (returning to the UK) if you catch COVID-19 while you’re away.

Step 1 – Get a New Quote

To start click here and then click ‘get new quote’.

get new quote travel insurance

Step 2 – Decide on a Cover Type

After clicking get a new quote you’ll be sent to a page where you have to decide if you would like an annual policy or a one-trip policy. For the purposes of this, I will be selecting a one-trip policy but if you do think you’ll be travelling multiple times per year, it may be worth doing an annual quote.

You can always do both quotes.

Step 3 – Enter Your Cruise Details

The next thing that you’ll be asked is for details of your cruise. You’ll be asked where you are going on the trip and when you will be leaving and returning. If you cannot see the countries that you’ll be visiting you can search for them in the search box.

It’s very important that you enter every country that you will be visiting.

If you are taking a British Isles cruise enter the UK and Ireland.

Note: Some ‘British Isles’ cruises also include stops in France and places like Guernsey. If this is the case make sure that you add these when submitting your quote.

cruise details travel insurance

Step 4 – Book Cruise Cover

At this point you’ll be asked if you need cruise cover. Make sure you tick this box!

If you would like to add gadget cover or winter sports cover this is where you would do this too.

Step 5 – Enter Your Details

After entering details about your trip you’ll be asked for details about yourself. This includes:

  • How many people are travelling
  • What are their dates of birth
  • What are their names
  • Do any of the people on the policy have any pre-existing medical conditions

After this you’ll be asked to enter your email address and then you’ll receive quotes from multiple companies.

fill in your email

What to Look Out For in Travel Insurance Quotes

Make Sure The Policy Matches the Minimum Requirements of The Cruise Line

Many cruise lines will have their own minimum travel insurance requirements. For example P&O cruises currently require cover of at least 2 million for medical expenses and repatriation.

When booking a cruise the cruise line will inform you of this.

The majority of the quotes provided to me, shown below, did include the 2 million pounds medical cover needed for a P&O cruise however one policy provided by boots only had 1 million pounds worth of medical cover. This is below P&O’s mandatory minimum and as a result, you would not be allowed to board the cruise with this cover.

travel insurance quotes

P&O have said that they will be checking travel insurance at the terminal so it’s important to make sure that you meet the cruise lines requirements.

Make Sure You’re Happy With The Excess Amounts

All travel insurance policies will have an excess amount attached to the policy. This is the amount that you have to pay before the insurance will kick in and pay the rest. Travel insurance policies with lower excesses usually cost a little more.

These three policies below have a £50 excess compared to the cheaper policies with a higher excess.

travel insurance excess

Check the Defaqto Rating

The Defaqto rating is a rating that provides a review of the quality of a product on a 1-5 star basis.

When choosing a travel insurance policy I usually look for the cheapest policy that has a 4* defacto rating, meets all the cruise lines minimum requirements, and has an excess that I am happy with.

defaqto rating travel insurance

Purchasing Travel Insurance from The Cruise Line or a Travel Agent

The majority of cruise lines and travel agents will be able to offer travel insurance directly. They usually partner with one company and are able to quote on this basis.

Although this is often a very easy way to get travel insurance it can be considerably more expensive than doing a comparison. The benefit of booking through a cruise line however is that you know that the cover you’ve chosen meets all of the requirements requested by the cruise line.

When booking a cruise you’ll usually be asked by the cruise line if you’d like to add travel insurance at the point of booking.

My personal preference is to use a comparison website as mentioned above because this gives me control and allows me to find a policy that fits both my needs AND my budget. I usually buy an annual policy and this is easy through a comparison website.

It Happened on my British Isles Cruise

A couple of years ago I took a British Isles cruise with Princess, which was absolutely amazing. During the cruise a man on the ship became unwell and the ship had to divert in order to disembark him.

A helicopter was not used but an emergency boat came to collect him from the cruise ship to avoid the cruise ship having to be docked. I’m not sure about the exact cost but I can imagine that it was not cheap.

When you think about the cost of the diversion, the extra boat, and the people involved in getting him to safety, it could have been very expensive. I hope that he had travel insurance (and was okay)!

british isles packing list

In Summary

Even if you are from Britain and are taking a British Isles cruise, you NEED travel insurance. The costs of medical care and repatriation should an accident occur could be huge.

Asides from this there are a number of other benefits provided by travel insurance such as cancellation cover.

If you are taking a British Isles cruise, make sure you check out our British Isles cruise packing list here: British Isles Cruise – Complete Packing List + Printable Checklist.

Taking a Cruise: Recommendations and Resources

Book a Cruise
Get Travel Insurance
Recommended Products

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.