What do I do if I have to cancel my cruise for some reason?

Disclaimer: this post has an affiliate link for InsureMyTrip at the bottom of this page.  If you clicked on it and bought insurance I’d get a small commission to help me keep up this site. It would not cost you more.

What if I have to cancel my cruise

One question that I hear often is “What would I do if I had to cancel my cruise for unforeseen circumstances?  I know that there are never any guarantees when it comes to cruising.

Cancel early

If you have to cancel your trip, and you can do it early enough, you may be able to get a refund, or at least a partial refund from the cruise line.  Be aware that it will not be refunded back to your charge card as quickly as it went onto your charge card when you paid.  That’s why I always advise to pay your deposit, but not to pay the rest of your cruise off till it’s nearly due.  That way you won’t have as much to be refunded if you cancel early. 

Always check your cruise line’s policies to see the timeline with percentage of your fare refunded.  For example, on Royal Caribbean 5 Night or longer cruises  (as of August 19, 2017), if you cancel before day 90 before your cruise, you will get 100% of your money back, but between days 89-57 days before your cruise is scheduled,  you get your deposit back.  From 56-29 days before your cruise, you get 50% of your total fare back, excluding taxes, fees & port expenses.  28-15 days before the cruise you only get 25% back, and 14 days or less,  you only get your taxes and fees back.

How to protect yourself

So, you may be asking yourself, how do I protect myself from losing all my hard earned money if I cannot go on my cruise?  Whether it be an emergency at home, a hurricane, terrorism or a missed flight,  you can have peace of mind if you buy travel insurance.  I never go on a cruise without it.  Your home medical insurance may not cover the cost of illness or injury while at sea or in a foreign country, and Medicare does not usually cover medical care outside the US.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance will cover a number of different things, depending on the type of insurance that you buy.  I always buy the comprehensive policy because it covers the most things.    For instance, I’m now looking for coverage for our next cruise. You can buy travel insurance from the Cruise line, but it always costs more than buying it elsewhere.  I always use InsureMyTrip.com (This link is an affiliate link, I would receive compensation but it wouldn’t cost you more) to find my travel insurance because they allow me to review multiple types of plans and compare plans side by side.  I can compare how much money I’d get back for covered trip cancellation or interruption.  Also, I can see how much they will pay for baggage loss or delay. And I can see how much they cover for medical needs and evacuation.  

Travel Insurance is usually the secondary provider when it comes to medical, your health plan would be the first.  You can also purchase accidental death coverage for an additional cost.  All coverage amounts are per person, not per couple.  You can also buy medical coverage separately, but it’s not much less than buying the comprehensive coverage, so I’d recommend that.  Also, on the InsureMyTrip.com site, you can read reviews of the plans before you choose, and see their Better Business Bureau rating.  Be sure to click on the dollar amount of the Trip Cancellation coverage to see the fine print of what is actually covered.


I’m comparing two different companies right now, and I can see that both of them would give me the same dollar amount for covered Trip Cancellation per person.  The amount quoted adds up to the amount we paid for our trip.  But one of the companies pays way better for Trip Interruption.  I read the fine print for Trip Interruption in each company by clicking on the dollar amount, and they are very similar.  The other company has a better baggage loss and baggage delay reimbursement.  There are exclusions, so again, read the fine print.   

The decisive factor for me is going to be that one has a much higher (secondary) Medical Limit with no deductible, and also has a much higher medical evacuation coverage.  You just never know what’s going to happen while you’re on vacation.  I’ve never had to use my trip insurance, but for me it’s better safe than sorry.  I’d rather buy it and not need it, than need it and not have it.  I always pay under $100 for the comprehensive plan.  I truly do like InsureMyTrip the best, but you can also check with individual sites and compare that way.

Once you buy your Travel Insurance, you will receive an email with your Insurance Documents.  Print them out and bring them on the ship with you in your carry-on luggage, and leave a copy at home.  They will have instructions on how to submit, if you should need to use the protection.

Not everyone purchases travel insurance, it depends on how comfortable you feel about losing part of your cruise fare in the case that you need to cancel.  It’s a very personal decision.  As for me, I’m way too cautious not to have it.

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