Cancelling a booking or being forced to cut short a holiday represent nearly half the incidents involved in cruise insurance claims, according to Spanish specialist travel brokers, InterMundial Seguros
The company’s latest figures show cancellation and curtailment represented more than 46 per cent of the total claims made, while the other two main causes were medical assistance – almost 25 per cent of cases – and problems with luggage, at over 18 per cent. And while medical costs onboard cruise ships can be especially high, particularly if the ship is at sea, the company estimates that less than half of Spanish passengers pay for insurance cover.
While the US leading the world cruise rankings, followed by Germany and the UK, the Spanish market is growing. Most travellers are heading for the Mediterranean, with routes to the west of Italy the most popular, ahead of those to the east. Those people that travel further still generally stick to Europe, typically choosing the Norwegian fjords or the Baltic Sea.
But unlike more seasoned international cruise passengers, the Spanish are far less likely to take out insurance cover, a company spokeswoman told ITIJ. “It’s a cultural problem,” she said. “Only about 20 per cent of Spaniards in general take out travel insurance. In the case of cruises, we don’t have separate figures, but it is still probably less than 50 per cent.”
Companies such as InterMundial are working with the travel trade to try and impress on holidaymakers the need for insurance, pointing out to them that a repatriation from as close as the Mediterranean can cost as much as €40,000. “But many still see the cost as too high and think it is worth taking the risk,” she lamented.
In the case of health problems reported at sea, the company says that the most common are the worsening of pre-existing illnesses, intestinal, respiratory and sea sickness, and dental emergencies. It points out that medical costs on board can be ‘quite expensive’ with a consultation costing up to €100. And even where shore visits might appear to be covered by European Union (EU) health cards ‘that doesn’t mean the attention received is completely free’. She went on to explain: “There are differences in the legislation of EU member countries and there can be certain treatments that are either not included or involve part-payment.”