A recent study done by 1Cover Travel Insurance has found that a staggering 30 per cent of Australian travellers did not take out travel insurance on their last cruise.

The study has also reveled that 14 per cent of all Australians have taken a cruise, while a further 23 per cent are keen to in the future, 27 per cent of people have become sick on a cruise, with one in ten of them requiring medical assistance. Which means that, given the standard ocean liner houses 3,000 passengers, statistically 300 people need medical help on every ocean cruise.

According to Richard Warburton, Chief Operating Officer at 1Cover Travel Insurance, cruising, like all forms of travel, has its risk.

“As much as people may like to think it is, cruising is not always smooth sailing. Unfortunately, things can, and do, go wrong. Outlaying a small amount for comprehensive travel insurance before you go really can make an enormous difference if anything untoward does happen before or during a cruise.”

Warburton explained that medical costs at sea can be very expensive, and people are often caught off-guard when they’re faced with hefty bills they assumed would be covered by Medicare.

“Many people just don’t realise that once they depart Aussie soil on their cruise, Medicare, for the most part, will not cover them. If they get sick and don’t have travel insurance, they’ll have to foot the bill. With medical costs on board cruise ships generally charged at private healthcare rates, it’s not surprising people often struggle to pay. A visit to the ship’s doctor could easily cost a couple of hundred dollars, while medical evacuation runs into the tens of thousands.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) states that Medicare benefits are only available to those travelling between two Australian ports, and if a Medicare-eligible doctor provides the services. Medicare-eligible doctors are not common on international ships.

“The odds of falling ill whilst aboard a cruise ship are heightened, particularly for tummy bugs, such as the norovirus that’s been in news as of late, along with respiratory infections. With these types of infections, medical assistance is frequently required to ensure symptoms don’t worsen.

“Choosing to skip travel insurance means people are forced to choose between getting medical treatment and footing a bill they may not be able to afford, or simply hoping their illness gets better on its own. What an awful predicament for someone to be in, and it’s the exact reason everyone should get travel insurance. It’s there to help you out if things don’t go to plan on your holidays.”

But it’s not just medical costs travel insurance can assist with. In the last 12 months, 13 per cent of 1Cover’s cruise claims were for lost, stolen, or damaged personal items, while 15 per cent were for expenses relating to trip cancellations or trip delays.

“In many cases, people save for years to go on these trips. So, for people to lose it all simply because something happens that’s unexpected and out of their control … well, it must be just devastating,” said Warburton. “Travel insurance certainly doesn’t take away from the frustrations and disappointment, but it does helps to ease the stress a little.”