Warning over 'exorbitant' costs catching Aussies out on cruise ships

While cruises are meant to be relaxing, they can quickly turn into a financial nightmare.

Australians are being warned to be aware of hidden costs associated with taking a cruise after a health scare among thousands of passengers once again put the cruise industry under the spotlight.

A dual outbreak on the Grand Princess cruise ship, which earlier this month had travelled along Australia's southeast coastline, led to multiple cases of gastro and Covid, with some passengers claiming of unsanitary conditions onboard.

Passenger Geoff Lines told The Advertiser he smelt “a sewerage type smell" on the ship and that their room was experiencing "plumbing problems".

Passengers on their balcony as their cruise departs Sydney.
Australians are being warned over spiralling costs associated with health care on cruises. Source: Getty

Cruise operator Princess Cruises denied there were any large-scale outbreaks on board, however Natalie Ball, director of Comparetravelinsurance.com.au, says the health scares highlight how easily people can become sick on cruises.

“Infectious diseases can spread rapidly on cruise ships due to the high number of people mingling in close proximity," she said.

Cruise ships were routinely the source of major outbreaks in the early stages of the pandemic, with scores of infected passengers famously let off the Ruby Princess in Sydney in March 2020.

Evacuation from a cruise can reach $50,000

Ball said many are unaware of the 'staggering costs" associated with seeking medical treatment on a cruise.

An example of a such costs emerged this week when a 76-year-old Sydney man was quoted $235 for a Covid test due to a 'doctor's consultation fee', the Daily Mail reported.

"As the passengers of the Grand Princess cruise can attest to, holidays don’t always go to plan and the last thing you need on a relaxing holiday is an exorbitant medical bill," Ball said.

She warned Australians travel insurance is "a must" for a cruise. In the worst case scenario, Australians can pay up to $20,000 to be evacuated from a ship in Australian waters, and $50,000 in international waters.

Some insurance policies will also cover trip cancellations, luggage cover and weather delays.

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