The $10 to never avoid paying on a cruise
SAVING money on a cruise is easy. Don't pay for a balcony room; the view's just as good from the main deck and there's no additional charge for enjoying it. Forgo the window too. Not having a window is better than any hotel blackout curtain you could dream of. Paying for any kind of extra room space is usually overkill as well. You need a bed and a bathroom, but you don't need a lounge and a dining table.
Similarly, you can save by not buying shore excursions and making your own way around each destination on foot. And only a fool would cough up for the pictures the official photographers insist on shooting every time you step off the ship or enter the dining room. I can take my own selfies, thanks.
But being frugal doesn't mean you should skimp on everything. Case in point? Cruise insurance.
It's reassuring to know that your cruise ship has medical professionals on board who can deal with heart attacks, broken limbs and wide-scale gastro outbreaks when you're miles from land. However, those doctors can set their own charges free of any government regulation and, like everything else on board ship, there's a massive mark-up involved.
If you're insured, that will generally cover your medical costs. If you don't have insurance, you can easily end up paying more for your medical treatment than you did for the cruise.
That's true even if your cruise operates only in Australian waters. Your domestic health insurance won't cover you for anything that happens while you're at sea. Nor will Medicare. And while they might cover you if you trip in the streets of Burnie during your Tasmanian cruise (opinions and policies differ), your existing Australian health cover certainly won't compensate you if you can't make it back to the ship because you've ended up in hospital.
Bottom line: you need cruise insurance every time.
That doesn't mean you'll have to pay heaps. If you're younger, cruise insurance can cost around $10 a day. Like most insurance costs, it gets more expensive as you get older, but the likelihood of needing it also rises.
A good cruise insurance policy will cover you for everything you expect from regular travel insurance (lost luggage, medical issues, cancellation) as well as issues specifically relating to cruising (missing your connection, cabin confinement because of illness, missed shore excursions).
Cruise insurance won't solve everything. One common trap? Your insurance will help if a connecting flight to get you to the cruise is cancelled because of bad weather, but may well not help if the problem is that your flight is cancelled because of mechanical issues.
The other key warning: insurance won't pay for anything if your injury is due to your own recklessness. So go easy on the margaritas, Gertrude.
Compare a couple of policies to get a sense of what you need before signing up. It's true that insurance is nowhere near as sexy as sunning yourself on the main deck, but it's one cost you can't afford to skip.