In the wake of the recent norovirus outbreak that led to misery for hundreds of Royal Caribbean cruise passengers, necessitating an early return to port and a flood of complaints and queries from travellers, US-based travel insurance comparison site Squaremouth has offered some advice for holidaymakers concerned about the potential impact of such an outbreak on their travel plans.
“Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships affect cruisers and their itineraries regardless of whether they fall ill or not,” explained Jenna Hummer, a spokesperson for Squaremouth. “Travel insurance can help travellers in either situation, both covering illness-related medical costs and travel costs to return home early in the event a cruise is cut short due to the outbreak.”
Squaremouth has advised passengers that, for example, were they to become sickened with the pesky norovirus bug during their cruise, they could be covered for any resulting medical expenses under the Emergency Medical benefit contained within their travel insurance policy. Likewise, should they need to debark early, Medical Evacuation benefits could potentially cover their transportation off-ship, and even stretch to a return journey home if deemed medically necessary.
Should a cruise be cut short due to an outbreak, travel insurance can also cover passengers having to head home early, Squaremouth advised. Some operators may refund all or some of the money paid for a cruise in this situation, but Trip Interruption coverage will be of use here, potentially offering reimbursement for unused trip costs; this could include missed nights at sea and any pre-paid excursions included as part of the cruise package, as well as any expenses required to get a passenger home early.
However, Squaremouth warns, travellers labouring under the common misconception that they can cancel a trip in advance out of fear they might contract norovirus will be disappointed – at least under standard Trip Cancellation coverage. Should they take out Cancel For Any Reason coverage, they could still cancel and be reimbursed due to fear of getting ill.
We at ITIJ salute Squaremouth for its tireless campaign to inform the travelling public about what is and isn’t covered – and we look forward to the time hundreds of years from now when the information has finally sunk in.