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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 two British Isles cruises and had wonderful times on both trips – experiencing parts of the British Isles I had never seen before.

Loch Ness visited on a Princess Cruise
Loch Ness visited on a cruise with Princess Cruises

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, so 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 cost of medical care on cruise ships and the risk of needing to be transported to land.

If you did have an accident whilst at 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 the cost could easily be 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 coverdepending on the level of cover you choose.

Cork in Ireland
Cork in Ireland. (We also visited Irish ports and France during my last “British Isles” cruise.

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.

Insurance is particularly important since the Coronavirus outbreak, as cruise cancellations have become more common.

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.

Packing with Hudson
Packing with a little help from Hudson

Cabin Confinement

Many travel insurance policies will include what is called ‘Cabin Confinement’ cover.

This means that guests would receive 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 the payment 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 and can claim on their Insurance Policy.

Port Cancellation

Port cancellation cover is usually an “add-on” 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.

Find out more about claiming for missed ports here:

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 more about compensation for changes, 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 upfront and then claim them back after the cruise.

This tends to happen in the case of minor injuries – but sometimes in the case of major injury claims too.

A reader emailed us to tell his story of Norwegian Cruiseline Travel insurance.

I had a $8000 medical emergency on a transatlantic cruise aboard the NCL Escape.  The medical staff were super and got me feeling better quickly.  However, what bothered me was that they wanted me to pay ASAP. I HAD TRAVEL INSURANCE FROM NORWEGIAN.  You would think that they would have a system where they could take care of getting their money direct from the insurer they use and let me concentrate on getting better. Instead the process is PAY NOW and when you get home file a claim and then wait for them to determine if it is a legit claim.


Cruise ships do have medical centres and doctors on board.

To learn more about medical care onboard, and how much you can expect to pay, check out this post:

How Much Does Medical Care Cost on a Cruise? Real Examples (X-Rays, Consultations & More)

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 and then booked a trip to Australia, you would not be covered.

Make sure any Travel Insurance you take out is Cruise Specific – otherwise, you may 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.

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 that you need to tick when purchasing travel insurance. Without this addition, you would not be covered for your 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 conditions. 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 off purchasing insurance.

How to Buy Travel Insurance For a British Isles Cruise

I have a full step by step guide about looking for, and taking out travel insurance. Make sure you read it!:

Cruise Travel Insurance – Why You Need it and How to Get It: (Step by Step Illustrated Guide)

british isles Loch ness
Loch Ness

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 their insurance requirements – and probably suggest you take out their own cruise line insurance!

Cruise lines are entitled to check travel insurance at the terminal so it’s important to make sure that you meet the cruise line’s 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.

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 would 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.

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 can 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 necessary requirements.

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.

Find out more about whether it is a good idea to take out your own insurance, or go with the one the cruise line offers here:

Should You Buy Your Travel Insurance Through The Cruise Line or Directly from an Insurance Company?

Liverpool from Princess cruise ship

Medical Evacuations Are More Common Than You Think…

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.

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)!

Very recently I took a cruise on P&O’s largest ship, Arvia. When we were on the way back to Southampton a lady had an accident onboard, and the ship had to make an unscheduled stop at A Coruna in Spain.

Find out more about my eventful cruise on Arvia here:

Before You Go

Find out how to stay healthy on your cruise holiday, and what first aid items it is sensible to pack “just in case” here:

Staying Healthy When You Cruise, Avoiding Seasickness – Medications and First Aid Items to Pack

Find out everything you need to know when booking a British Isles cruise here:

British Isles Cruises: (Real Prices, Weather & More) – Everything You Need to Know

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.