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How to Navigate Marine Insurance in 2021

  • By Jennifer Brett
  • Updated: June 30, 2021

Sailboat wrecked by Hurricane Matthew

If you’ve been on the hunt for a marine insurance policy over the past year or so, you likely already know that it’s a challenging market. Sailing and cruising groups on social media and web forums are filled with frequent posts about people struggling to find coverage, keep coverage, or just afford it. It’s a problem that seems to be affecting beginning cruisers and circumnavigators, with old boats or new. So what gives? How did the situation get to this point, and what can sailors do to protect their dream?

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I’ve never seen a market this hard,” said Morgan Wells, a yacht-insurance specialist with Jack Martin and Associates. “There’s been a great reduction in the number of insurance companies writing boat and yacht insurance, and the international-cruiser segment of the market has been more adversely affected, particularly for boats anywhere on the US East Coast, and even more so for people looking for new policies for Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.”

Indeed, cruisers across the spectrum of locations and sea time are feeling the pinch. When looking to renew their current insurance policy last year, circumnavigators Behan and Jamie Gifford, who live aboard their 1982 Stevens 47, were met with a surprise. “When it came time to renew, we were quoted more than double our cost for insurance the year we planned to cross the Indian Ocean, 2015—an arguably very risky navigational area—and we now had the added requirement of a third adult for passages,” Behan said. “In the end, we didn’t renew at all, and currently have liability-only insurance. I’m not pleased about that and hope to get back to full hull insurance when the market comes around.”

Owners of newer boats don’t seem to be having an easier time either. “We bought a 2015 Jeanneau 64 in October 2020,” Dan Stotesbery said. “I have a lot of experience sailing, but none of it was logged, so I don’t have any credentials like a Yachtmaster or anything like that. My wife has even less experience. When we heard it was tough getting insurance, we were definitely worried about getting covered. Complicating the situation was that the boat was in Turkey, and I needed to sail it across the Atlantic to get to my wife and family. We reached out to the company that insured our house to see if they could find us a company that would insure the boat and especially the crossing. We received two quotes back and ended up getting insured with Concept Special Risk. They did put in a lot of stipulations, like we needed to have a captain for the crossing and at least two other people with bluewater experience, a list of countries we aren’t allowed to go in, and a 250-miles-from-land limit once the crossing was complete. It was extremely expensive, and there was an additional cost for the crossing.”

Young man steering a sailboat

Changing Marketplace

So how did it get to this point? “We need to put it into context of a market that was very soft for many years—underwriters were looking for business,” Wells said. “There was a bit of a hiccup in the mid-2000s with some fairly significant storms, but generally it didn’t cause much change, and underwriters were still looking for ways to say yes. But then in 2017 came hurricanes Irma and Maria, then Dorian in 2019—these were extremely large losses to very large fleets of boats. Since 2017 we have seen the market flip from a soft to a hard market, and in fact, a very hard market by early 2021. We really have a big change now with fewer insurance companies and greater demand for insurance. And the pricing is much higher than it was a year ago. Irma and Maria showed the vulnerability in the market.”

Laura Lindstrom-Croop from Legacy Underwriters, noted that “many insurance companies left the Caribbean market in 2019-20. Pantaenius America was the first to leave,” she said. “The agency that I work with had YachtInsure, which lost its underwriter, Aspen Insurance, last summer. They have recently secured a new carrier, Clear Blue Specialty, that is writing new business but has new guidelines. Our second underwriter, Concept Special Risk, lost its company, Great Lakes Insurance, on January 1, 2021, but now it has a new company, Clear Springs Property and Casualty, that is writing new business with new guidelines.”

Suzanne Redden, mid-Atlantic branch manager for Gowrie Group, has had a similar experience. “Traditionally, when we would have someone coming in with a sailboat who wanted to do extended cruising, we had five, six, seven…at least that many companies who were willing to write that policy,” Redden said. “So there really wasn’t too much of an issue finding coverage for the customer, depending on where they wanted to go and their level of experience, that sort of thing. What we’re really struggling with now—and it’s a struggle—is that so many carriers have basically pulled out that our options are very limited as far as who is willing to write Caribbean navigation and worldwide navigation. Our choices are few. And what happens then is, of course, the prices go up because the company’s philosophy is ‘no one else wants to write here; we’ll write here, but this is what our actuaries tell us it’s going to cost to allow us to do that.’ So that’s why the rates have gone up.”

The cost to insure his Jeanneau 64 was definitely a bit of a surprise to Stotesbery: “The policy had to be paid upfront. That was the biggest surprise to us because we are used to paying car insurance monthly. This is also a hurdle that I think can be hard to overcome for some people. Not a lot of people have that kind of cash on hand to just fork out.”

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Underwriting Difficulties

Along with higher costs, Redden also pointed out that the underwriting has changed a lot too. “Where before you would have had somebody who maybe had just a year or two experience, or they had just bought a boat, more companies would have been willing to let them take a trip. They look at it much more closely now when a new submission comes in. That’s made it more difficult, I think, for that sort of person to find insurance.”

According to Emma Whittemore, a service manager for BoatU.S./Geico Marine Insurance, underwriting has become much more sophisticated. “With the growth of data, insurance companies can really tell what group is a high-risk group,” she said. “We’re monitoring a lot more to make sure that the right people are behind the helm on these big, 35- to 60-foot boats. We want to make sure it’s not these customers’ first boat, and that they really know what they’re doing. Underwriting is fluid, but in general we always like to look at the ownership experience.”

This has been a particularly vexing problem for potential cruisers. Dana Fairchild and her husband live in Minnesota and have been planning for their cruising dream for the past few years. The couple has taken ASA sailing courses and chartered on Lake Superior but never owned their own sailboat. “Our cruising plans are to buy a boat large enough to live aboard; a 35- to 38-foot Island Packet is what we have in mind,” she said. “Due to the price point of Island Packets, we are looking at models from the 1990s. We plan to keep it on the East Coast of the US—somewhere above the hurricane zone during hurricane season, and probably down to Florida in the winter—for the first six months to a year while getting comfortable with the boat and used to the liveaboard lifestyle. After that we want to head to the Bahamas for a while, and eventually work our way down to the rest of the Caribbean and stay there.”

While the couple hasn’t purchased a boat yet, they’d heard the news that insurance might be difficult to find, so they reached out to a few companies to explain their plans and intended boat. “The short answer to what we’ve been hearing from insurance agencies is no. The reason for this is predominantly that we have not owned our own boat that is of comparable size, or at least within 10 feet. They don’t take into consideration that we have sailed and chartered boats of the same size, but really only want to see that a boat of comparable size was titled to us for at least two years”

This boat in Coconut Grove, Florida, nearly sank from all the debris.

Looking Ahead

So when faced with a denial, a notice of nonrenewal or a steep increase in premiums, what can a cruiser do? Is there coverage available? “What I am seeing, you have more choices if you limit your cruising to the US East Coast down to the Turks and Caicos,” Lindstrom-Croop said. “If you go to the Eastern Caribbean, you have fewer carriers, and some are writing coverage that doesn’t include hurricanes.

“I think cruisers are going to have to be patient and flexible. Also, update your sailing resume so when you shop around, you are giving the company a reason to give you the maximum credit available. Lower rates are probably not going to happen for a couple of years, climate change is weighing heavily on insurers, and the large number of storms recently is worrisome.”

Communication is crucial. Each of the insurance professionals I spoke with made it clear that underwriters are looking much more closely than in years past, and detailed sailing resumes and hurricane plans can help your chances. For newer cruisers, scaled-back sailing plans could help as well because finding coverage for a smaller cruising area will likely be much easier than, say, the entire East Coast and Bahamas. And for older vessels, a survey might be required for renewal.

“Some of the companies have gone to where they won’t write a boat over 40 years old,” Redden said. “Gowrie Group offers the Jackline program, which is a cruising program through Markel Insurance, which is really one of the last US companies still doing extended cruising, but they’re very restrictive on what they will write and how they’ll write it. But they will take older boats. Experience is the key.”

“It is harder to insure an older boat, but it can be done,” Lindstrom-Croop said. “There are just fewer markets. An older boat needs to be maintained well and have a current survey, within three years. I like to submit the survey along with the application when marketing so the underwriters can see the boat.”

For the time being, it seems that cruisers, such as Stotesbery, who currently have—albeit expensive—coverage are doing what they can to keep it. “We have had several major repairs to do on the boat, which we probably could have put in a claim for, but we are too worried about getting dropped or not covered next year, so we just paid for the repairs,” he said. “So it’s sort of a Catch-22. Unless we have a catastrophic type of claim, we don’t want to make one, but we still pay the high premium without really being able to take advantage of the protection. We will definitely start shopping again once we get closer to our renewal date. Unfortunately, there just aren’t a lot of insurance choices out there, so it is quite limiting, and they hold all of the cards.”

Others, such as the Giffords, are going without full coverage for now, while potential cruisers, such as the Fairchilds, might need to put their dream on hold. “As for how this is impacting our plans, it has really made us start to second-guess that this is even a possible plan. We have become discouraged, and this has really put a halt to most of the steps we were taking,” Fairchild said.

Wells, Redden and Lindstrom-Croop are optimistic for things improving in the insurance market over the next year or so, but all emphasize having patience. “We’re hoping that things will change for the better,” Redden said. “We’ve got some companies now that pulled out that are coming back, but it’s a very slow process.”

Jennifer Brett is CW’s senior editor.

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Alden Allied Amel Angleman Arcona Baltic Bavaria Bayana Beneteau Bruce Roberts C and C Cal Cantiere del pardo Grand Soleil Catalina CCYD Cheoy Lee Damstra Dean Dehler Delphia Deutsche Werke Dufour Duwamish Erickson Fisher Fountaine Pajot Freedom Freeport Fuji Gib Sea Gulfstar Hanse Yachts Hallberg Rassy Kelly Herreshoff Hinckley Hunter Hylas Kanter

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Bluewater cruising insurance – what you need to know

Yachting World

  • April 13, 2022

Janneke Kuysters looks at bluewater cruising insurance and explains what you need to know and why it's become increasingly difficult to insure your yacht for long distance cruising

caribbean yacht insurance

There’s no getting around the fact it has become a lot harder to get boat insurance, particularly bluewater cruising insurance. However, there are still ways to secure good coverage – you just need to know what makes insurers tick.

If you want to ruin any cruising sailors’ potluck party on a tropical beach, just drop in a question about boat insurance. Many boat owners have stories to tell. Just about every aspect of the process has become more complicated for bluewater cruising insurance, it takes a bigger chunk out of the cruising budget every year and the rising deductibles make it more and more tempting to go uninsured. So, what is going on in the market and how do you get proper insurance to match your cruising plans?

How bluewater cruising insurance works

First, let’s look at who you are dealing with when you try to get your yacht insured for a trip to the Med, the Caribbean or a circumnavigation.

The insurance company covers your yacht: they write the cheque when there are damages to it or when you’ve caused damage. All this depends on the conditions that you agreed to when taking the policy, but in general, you don’t deal with the insurance company directly when you try to get insurance for a bluewater itinerary. Unlike car insurance, boat insurance is a very specific product and it requires a tailor made approach. Most likely you’ll do business with a broker or an underwriting agent.

caribbean yacht insurance

Uninsured yacht owners could face enormous salvage, repair and environmental damage costs if the worst should happen. Photo: Ben Welsh Premium/Alamy

The broker considers you, your boat and your plans and presents this ‘package’ to several insurance companies. A single insurance company may want to insure you, but it could also be a syndicate of insurers: each insurer accepting a certain percentage of the risk presented by your package.

There are different kinds of brokers; the difference lies in the amount of work they take off the hands of the insurance companies. If the broker is just helping you to get cover for your beautiful blue water itinerary, you’ll get a policy with the header of the insurance company. If the broker does a lot more work, for instance manning phone lines for 24/7 assistance and handling of claims, you may find their company name at the top of your policy. Brokers that take the most work off the hands of the insurers are called managing general agents (MGAs).

What has changed?

Why has it become more complicated to get yacht insurance for blue water voyages? Mike Wimbridge, managing director of Pantaenius UK, explains: “Yacht insurance for offshore itineraries has always been a tailor made market. And we see that, in recent years, there has been less appetite from the insurance companies when it comes to yacht insurance in general. For coastal cruising in UK waters, things are still fairly easy to insure. But for more bespoke risks like insuring a bluewater cruise, we see that the market is nervous.”

There are several reasons behind this change, Wimbridge says. “Up until 2017 this was a highly competitive market, so prices were as low as possible. It then became untenable for many insurers, especially when a few big windstorms tore through areas where lots of yachts were stored.

“Insurance companies and their reinsurance companies pulled out of the market, leaving a few behind who needed to safeguard their financial situation. So the premiums and deductibles rose. Things are stabilising now, but we still see slight increases annually.”

There are other factors at play. The effects of climate change mean extreme weather events happen more often.

caribbean yacht insurance

Sailing off the beaten track can be challenging to insure. Photo: Janneke Kuysters

The typical consumer profile has also changed. In the past, yacht owners usually set off on passage armed with sextants, paper charts and a wealth of experience. Nowadays it has become a lot easier to get started – thanks to everything from computer-based navigation systems to powered sail handling – so owners can set off on a bluewater cruise with less experience.

At the same time, boats have become larger and potential claims more expensive: a single lightning strike can destroy tens of thousands of pounds worth of electronics, so it’s perhaps understandable insurers can be nervous to write bespoke policies.

However, there are signs that the market is rebalancing. Ric De Cristofano, director of underwriting with Topsail Insurance, says: “The good news is that the insurance market is cyclical: it will bounce back. I think we have the worst time behind us and we’ll see that insurers become more open to write policies for bluewater cruising yachts.”

How to get bluewater cruising insurance

If you are looking for insurance for a bluewater itinerary, Wimbridge says, “Getting a quote is getting harder and harder. You have to ‘pitch’ yourself, your boat and your plans to the insurer. The broker can help you to do this or you can select a carrier that has staff on hand who are experienced in this area. Things like your sailing CV, diplomas and those of your crew, previous long passages that you have successfully undertaken, and technical or managerial skills that will benefit your sailing, are very important to mention.

“When it comes to the boat: the more seaworthy, the better. There is no real threshold when it comes to boat value, but a well found yacht that is suitable for offshore cruising is paramount to get insurance.”

“We have added a maintenance log to our ‘pitch’ to get insurance,” say American cruisers Jason and Nicky Wynn (see gonewiththewynns.com). “This has added to the success of securing insurance for our boat.” Keep receipts and take photographs as proof of upgrades and repairs, and record a log of routine maintenance.

“The third element in your ‘pitch’ is your itinerary,” continues Wimbridge. “The Atlantic and Pacific are well-cruised areas where insurers can assess the risk they are writing. But if you’re heading around Cape Horn or further afield in the Indian Ocean, premiums will rise. So with your choice of itinerary you can influence the height of your premium and insurance conditions.”

caribbean yacht insurance

Hurricane damaged yacht. Photo: Pantaenius

In general, insurers are not keen to cover your yacht if you sail in areas with a cyclone/hurricane risk. They have predefined areas and dates which are important to adhere to if you want to stay insured. You will also have a very hard time finding insurance to sail in areas with political instability, war or threats of terrorism. War Risk zones are internationally acknowledged areas where even large commercial ships pay breathtaking insurance premiums.

De Cristofano adds: “Start looking for an insurer at least six months before you plan to leave. Have a chat with your broker to see if they will be able to find insurers that will cover your itinerary. Give yourself ample time to put your ‘pitch’ together and to discuss possible alternatives with your insurer that will lead to a policy that fits your budget.

“It pays to negotiate about the deductible: if you are willing to accept a higher deductible, this may make a significant difference in the premium you will be paying, because it signals to the insurer that you have confidence in your yacht and your skills to maintain it properly.”

However, Wimbridge warns: “Price is not all; think of insurance as a partnership with the insurer. The cheapest policy may not do what you need it to do when you are in trouble on the other side of the planet. You need an insurer who has the knowledge and the capacity to get help to you where you are: spare parts, technical assistance or even worst case, salvage. A lot of the cheaper insurance options will require hiring a third party provider locally, which may present all sorts of cultural and language barriers. So look at the quality of the policy.”

Real world solutions

Bill Garlick is a well known name in the cruising community: many boat owners who have sailed to the other side of the world and run into trouble with their insurance get help from Bill at The Marina Shop in Opua, New Zealand.

“The marine insurance market had a monumental dislocation at the end of 2018 when many Lloyds pleasure craft syndicates closed their books,” Garlick explains. “The lost capacity created a worldwide shortage of marine insurance for pleasure craft. Cover was difficult to find and premiums started rising. Around 95% of our clients were insured with Lloyds at the end of 2018 and those now with Lloyds can be counted on one hand. A number of insurers stepped in to fill the abyss which meant brokers and clients had to deal with new policy wordings and cruising parameters. By the end of 2019 most clients were placed with new insurers.

caribbean yacht insurance

Keeping a log of regular maintenance can be helpful. Photo: Janneke Kuysters

“A consequence of the contracting market is that marine insurers have tighter criteria and marine insurance is more difficult to secure. Older (30 years-plus), smaller (under 40ft) and low value boats (less than US$100,000) are difficult and sometimes impossible to insure. Standing rigging must be no more than 10 years old (a rig inspection and report is no longer acceptable), surveys are generally required when an insurer takes on a new risk unless the vessel is a relatively new factory production model.”

He adds: “Registration is now the key factor in securing marine insurance. Many insurers are not registered in all countries/jurisdictions so they can only offer cover to certain flags. Choosing a flag is now the decision that determines which – if any – insurers can offer terms.”

Claudia Masson, CEO of the specialised German yacht insurance broker Preuss, says Brexit has also had an impact on European brokers: “Since Brexit, it is no longer possible for us to insure a UK registered yacht with a UK owner. We’ve had to cancel all the policies of our UK clients; this has limited the amount of alternatives there are for UK boat owners.”

“Lightning, windstorm and saltwater damage to electronics and electrical systems are problematic,” adds Garlick. “Many marine insurers simply refuse to offer cover for these risks and others mitigate their exposure by offering high excesses/deductibles.”

Go uninsured?

Every year a number of cruising yacht owners decide to sail uninsured. There are several reasons for this, but usually it’s because of budget constraints or simply because they cannot find an insurer.

But there are considerable risks to going uninsured. First of all, some countries will not let you enter or leave without at least liability insurance – Panama being one example. The same applies to most harbours or marinas.

But the most important thing to consider when you sail uninsured is whether you can afford to lose your boat and equipment. Would being uninsured likely change your behaviour – would it make you less likely to issue a Mayday? In the case that you hit a reef, could you finance the cost of salvage and repairing environmental damage? Or the liability if you accidentally hit another yacht or a swimmer in the water?

“If you are considering sailing uninsured, there are insurers in the UK that will accept yachts for just the liability insurance,” says Ric De Cristofano of Topsail Insurance.

If you enjoyed this….

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Having been around boats and yachts for more than 40 years, I have always had a strong passion for the water. My career has taken me to seas and oceans around the world. Beginning my career in the UK and English channel, I transitioned to spending several year in the middle east (Abu Dhabi & Dubai), and then to the Mediterranean, all with work within the marine, automotive and aviation businesses.

I spent 5 years with Marsh as the Senior VP leading the Global Yacht division.  I then started the first of my companies, Private Insurance Services.  Private Insurance Services was acquired a few years ago, allowing me to retire from the corporate world in 2021. However I discovered that retirement was not for me – thus, the birth of Yachtsafe Global, LLC based here in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I’m honored and humbled to say that the response from former clients and industry leaders has been heartwarming.

It would be my pleasure, and that of my outstanding team members, to assist in meeting all of your yacht insurance needs.

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Meet Dylan, a seasoned yacht insurance underwriter with a decade of experience in the industry. Dylan specializes in both private pleasure and commercial risks and is dedicated to providing comprehensive coverage solutions to clients with a deep understanding of the unique challenges facing yacht owners and operators. Dylan is known for his expertise in risk assessment and mitigation, providing personalized insurance solutions tailored to each client’s individual needs. Dylan has a proven track record of exceptional service, ensuring clients are protected against potential risks and liabilities, making him a trusted advisor in the yacht insurance market. Contact Dylan today to learn more about his yacht insurance services.

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Here are a few things to consider as you prepare for the discussion:

Home and auto insurance policies may provide limited coverage for personal watercraft. Talk to your insurance representative about coverage limits. You may want to consider purchasing a personal watercraft policy to protect yourself and your water vehicle in the event of an accident.

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Typical policies include deductibles of $250 for property damage, $500 for theft and $1,000 for medical payments.

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12-01-2021, 13:35  
Boat: Swan 44 Mk II
for the of 2021-22, but GEICO/Boat US, my insurer, won't write coverage. They have told me they no longer write policies adding/including the .

Can anyone recommend a or company I can approach? It is never to early to start planning. Thank you in advance for your inpiut.

Ron
12-01-2021, 14:35  
Boat: 1990 Macintosh 47, "Merlin"
. EVERYTHING is 2 years old or less. We spent $250K of (mostly) company rebuilding after Harvey. They should have totaled the . But the damage was nearly all cosmetic, except that since the neighbor's rig came through our rig, and the stern ended up on the finger pier, a lot of was spent making sure everything was OK. and dropped, rig removed, rerigged, etc. Add $55K in , and about $40K in , it gets up there in a hurry.

We received 2 quotes. One from a notorious company that's well documented to be quite difficult when there's a claim. Another, nearly identical company out of .

Basically, because of the boat's age, nothing is covered over 20% of its replacement cost. Doesn't matter if the standing is new (it's new rod), it's depreciated 10% a year, based upon the age of the boat. The only real coverage appears to be if the boat is a total loss.

We might still go next year. But it's likely that we will go with liability only. Let us know what you find.
12-01-2021, 14:41  
Boat: Swan 44 Mk II
."

How about some company names? While well intended, this doesn't help much without names. But I am sorry the trouble you had.

Ron
12-01-2021, 14:46  
Boat: Beneteau 423
, formerly Ace. When we went to the we asked for and received a rider allowing for the distance and the region of The . We could have extended it to the Caribbean. I don't the cost of the additional premium. We did have to be north of by June 1. We use a friend that has a brokerage and boat firm near Boston - Admiralty Insurance - 781-721-5500. The owner is a sailor.


Harry
12-01-2021, 19:32  
Boat: Hanse 445 44’
policy that includes general liability, , Uninsured and damage through

I’m limited to the waters of the Caribbean except and maybe one other locale. 250 miles .

It was less than my prior policy that only covered the triangle in the from , and St Croix and a 25 mile limit.
03-06-2021, 12:05  
. Reach out to:

John Nelson
Insurance Specialist of SW
12780 Way Four, Suite 108
Bonita Springs, FL 34135
Office: 239.949.7717
Fax: 888.334.6454
[email protected]
10-08-2021, 09:19  
12-08-2021, 04:59  
Boat: Swan 44 Mk II
Wells
Vice President, Agent
Your partner in a changing world
Jack Martin & Associates | 135 Old Solomons Island Rd. MD 21401
Office: 410-626-1000
|jackmartin.com




HANHAM INSURANCE AGENCY
Yachts, , Marine
Mr. Hugo Hanham-Gross
T: +1 843 410 2990
E:
W:
12-08-2021, 06:08  
Boat: Camper & Nicholson58 Ketch - ROXY Traverse City, Michigan No.668283
.

We use ANJO purchased through an agent in Jolly harbor . They cover the Caribbean only. It was the only affordable option for our large old boat. ANJO is a Massy company.
12-08-2021, 06:11  
Boat: Swan 44 Mk II
12-08-2021, 06:36  
Boat: Camper & Nicholson58 Ketch - ROXY Traverse City, Michigan No.668283
.

Consider making the transit in the Salty Dawg rally in November.

They offer lots of help, routing, communication, and in the end, good community. We did the 2016 rally and have remained members. We were greeters in Harbor, as the arrived last November.

A nice shake down might take you to Hampton, Va where they officially start or you could depart anywhere on the coast and join the rally. Island hopping from up will take a long time. Our transit was 1500 miles, 7.5 days.
12-08-2021, 06:44  
insurance trend continues the manufactures are going to have to go into the insurance business, or sell a lot fewer boats.
12-08-2021, 08:04  
Boat: Camper & Nicholson58 Ketch - ROXY Traverse City, Michigan No.668283
12-08-2021, 11:23  
. Nothing south of that. I'll contact ANJO, they seem to be the better option at this time.

Thanks
 
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What’s the best Caribbean cruise for me?

Zachary Laks

Jul 15, 2024 • 9 min read

caribbean yacht insurance

Whether you're a family of four or a solo adventure junkie, the Caribbean has a cruise for you. Walter Bibikow / Getty Images.

It feels like just about everyone is headed on a cruise ship, and for good reason. There’s a real appeal to embarking on a getaway where your travel plans are already sorted; you only have to unpack once and arrive each morning in an exciting port of call.

Plus, new ships are rolling out incredible bells and whistles that push the limits of fun at sea (think indoor skydiving, roller coasters, and go-karts). At the same time, the cruise industry has shifted towards sustainable efforts that have emerged as fundamental to modern cruising. 

Recent statistics from CLIA (the official Cruise Line International Association) show an increase of nearly two million passengers in 2023 (totaling 31.7 million) compared to pre-pandemic numbers in 2019.

And there’s no more popular cruising region than the Caribbean , where upwards of 37 cruise lines with 154 ships rove the idyllic paradise of islands. With so many options, sorting out which ship and itinerary fits you best can be confusing. 

Here’s a handy guide to help determine which cruises are best for you, along with tips and advice to ensure you’re setting yourself up for a smooth sail. 

Passengers relax as the Oasis of the Seas departs the Bahamas

What Caribbean cruise is best for me?

Sailing for adventure.

Whether you're into ziplining through the rainforest, scuba diving one of the world’s largest coral reefs or swimming at the base of a waterfall, cruises throughout the Caribbean offer excellent opportunities for adventure.

Cruise ports known for high-octane activities include St-Martin (known for its superb scuba diving), Belize (cave-tubing and ziplining throughout rainforest treetops) and St Lucia (the Sapphire Falls Hike). 

Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises and Holland America have cruises that frequent these ports.

Best ships for families

Look for larger ships with kid-friendly pools, expansive kids' clubs and family-friendly entertainment. Royal Caribbean’s fleet features action-packed decks great for families with water slides, laser tag and mini golf. 

Disney Cruise Line’s fleet sails extensively throughout the Caribbean to ports that span from Cozumel , Mexico, to Willemstad , Curaçao. The line’s most common Caribbean offerings are shorter 3- and 4-night itineraries that are perfect for families looking for a short trip.

Cruise lines with private islands operate predominantly in the Bahamas , including Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line. These stops are great family destinations as they feature enclosed, private environments with kids' activities and the ease of charging everything to your sea pass card.  

Singles at sea

Cruises can be an excellent place for singles to mix and mingle. A standard cruise stateroom rate is usually calculated at a minimum two-adult rate. Singles wishing to book a standard stateroom are typically charged a single supplement fee ranging from 50% - 100% of their base fare. 

As the demand for single cruise accommodations grows, new ship builds include solo staterooms, both interior and with balconies. Look to Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, and Norwegian Cruise Lines for some of the best accommodations for solo travelers. 

Most relaxing getaways

The most relaxing cruises sailing through the Caribbean tend to be the smaller ships focusing on a more “resort at sea” vibe. The higher-end ships with all-inclusive rates offer the luxury of seamless vacations. Windstar, Seabourn and Viking are the best lines for a relaxing cruise.

On these ships you’ll find daily activities that swap dance parties and poolside games for fitness-oriented activities like yoga and strength training classes, lectures on upcoming ports and ample lounge chairs to soak up the sun by the pool.

From your first step onboard, all your food and drinks (except for certain vintage wines and spirits), activities and sometimes your port excursions are included in your rate. 

Itineraries like the Viking Ocean Cruises’ West Indies Explorer sail a 10-day itinerary roundtrip from San Juan, Puerto Rico, with stops that include Tortola, British Virgin Islands; St. Kitts, Saint Kitts & Nevis and Roseau, Dominica. Rates for Viking Ocean Cruises include one shore excursion per port.

The top of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship with a balcony looking down over a pool with people and lounge chairs.;

Best parties at sea

As the classic notion of cruising sunsets – goodbye white glove service, shuffleboard, Baked Alaska – a new era of fun is afloat.

Large ships are built to maximize fun, whether you're hopping pool parties, dancing the night away at late-night discos or cheering your team at rousing sports bars. Special interest cruises are also an excellent option for the most immersive fun at sea, whether that’s a full ship charter rock concert like the Rock Legends Cruise , a trip dedicated to Golden Girls fans , or an LGBTQ+ charter like VACAYA . 

Favorite lines that feature an upbeat party vibe include Margaritaville at Sea (particularly on their new Islander), Virgin Voyages and Norwegian Cruise Line.

A quick getaway

You’ll find cruise lines are leaning into shorter itineraries that offer weekend getaways to nearby ports in the Caribbean. Most of these sailings are roundtrip from Florida’s top cruise ports: Miami , Fort Lauderdale and Orlando (Port Canaveral). These are often 3- and 4-night sailings featuring a stop in The Bahamas or Bermuda . 

The vibe onboard is often more upbeat and celebratory, as guests do their best to maximize their limited time at sea. 

A few favorite lines for this style of travel include Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean (who is launching Utopia of the Seas this summer as its first-ever large-scale ship that will exclusively sail short getaways) and Disney Cruise Line.

An extended journey through the Caribbean

Smaller cruise lines offer longer, extensive itineraries throughout the Caribbean; smaller ships can port far off the beaten path at more remote destinations. Itineraries like Seabourn’s “25-Day Captivating Antillean Treasures” sail to some of the lesser trafficked parts of the Caribbean including Marigot, St. Martin; Carambola Beach, Saint Kitts and Nevis; and Sopers Hole (Frenchmans Cay), BVI. Lines like Silversea, Windstar Cruises and Azamara are favorites that route to these idyllic destinations. 

When should I go on my cruise?

There are sailings throughout the Caribbean year-round, with high season running from November through April. This period is known for its optimal sailing conditions and weather. 

You’ll find cheaper sailings during the hurricane season, typically July through September, though you risk the chance of your trip being canceled or rerouted to avoid inclement weather. 

Holiday sailings (particularly during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve) are also excellent times to sail as cruise lines curate impressive decor and holiday-themed activities.

How do I know if my cruise line is operating sustainably? 

Conservation efforts have become a vital tenet of the future of cruising, with the industry gearing towards carbon-zero sailings by 2050 . Efforts underway include ship engines that run cleaner on alternative fuels, advanced wastewater systems that can better clean sewage water and exhaust gas cleaning systems to improve air quality at sea and in port. 

Friends of the Earth’s Cruise Ship Report Card is a great resource to assess a ship’s sustainability efforts. 

A few lines at the forefront of sustainable sailing include Ponant, Disney Cruise Line and Hurtigruten. Ponant recently became the first maritime cruise line to receive Green Globe certification, which recognizes the line’s commitment to reducing its environmental footprint.  The line has shifted away from heavy fuel oil and installed catalytic systems to reduce atmospheric emissions.

Disney Cruise Line aims to operate with carbon emissions at net zero by 2030, in part by shifting to alternative fuels like liquefied natural gas (LNG) and hydrotreated vegetable oil. 

Hurtigruten is currently developing a zero-emission propulsion ship, which is aiming to be unveiled by 2030. 

There are still a large number of travelers who oppose the notion of cruise ships for not only their impact on the environment, but on local economies as well. Groups like Friends of the Earth , CLIA and Oceana are excellent organizations devoted to regulating the cruise industry.  

ruise ships docked at pier on the Dutch side of St. Maarten, with passengers walking on the pier

Need to know before you go

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when you’re booking a Caribbean cruise. 

Book in advance...

Cruise lines offer better rates further from your sailing date, often making sailings available to book more than a year out. The earlier you book, the better the selection of staterooms to choose from. 

Or take advantage of last minute deals

Cruise Plum is our go-to with a comprehensive overview of discounted inventories if you're angling for a last-minute getaway. 

Opt for third-party travel insurance for hurricane season protection

Travel insurance is the best way to ensure smooth sailings on your Caribbean cruise. Typical cruise insurance rates hover around 5 to 10% of your total trip cost. 

Don’t just opt into the cruise line’s designated insurance option; shop around on a platform like Squaremouth for the most value. 

Look for a plan specific to cruise travel, with coverage that includes compensation for delays, cancellations (particularly helpful during hurricane season), emergency medical, and the premium option of canceling for any reason (CFAR). 

Be hurricane-aware

Hurricane season in the Caribbean is typically July through September. The outlook for the 2024 season from NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) predicts an 85% chance of an above-normal season with the potential range of 8-13 hurricanes with winds of at least 74 mph. 

Cruise lines work expeditiously to avoid sailing into the path of any major tropical storm or hurricane, often rerouting or shortening itineraries as threats arise. Cruises rarely encounter major storms as they’re able to chart the course of the weather and route accordingly. 

In the event you encounter a major storm while at sea, head to the middle of the ship where you’ll feel the rolling of the ship less, take over-the-counter aids like Dramamine or Bonine and keep your eyes on the horizon for stability balance.

You don’t necessarily need a passport 

Passports are not required for closed-loop sailings that begin and end at a US port. All you need is a boarding pass, a government photo ID (if you’re 16 years or older) and a certified birth certificate or certificate of US naturalization. 

However, keep in mind that you might not be able to disembark the ship at certain ports (those ports include Barbados , Martinique and St-Barthélemy ).

Third-party excursions can be a better value play

If you want to stretch your dollar further, consider booking with local tour operators before arriving at each port. It’s important to note that third-party excursions are the best when they’re morning-only activities. 

The ship won’t wait for you if you’re late returning from a third-party excursion. For full-day excursions, consider the line’s offerings, as the ship will wait for you, and there’s nothing worse than missing the boat.

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Stormy Seas: How Sailboat Insurance Covers Weather Damage

Sailing the open seas can be an exhilarating adventure, but it also comes with its fair share of risks, especially when it comes to weather. As a sailor, you understand the importance of protecting your vessel from the unpredictable elements. That’s where sailboat insurance for cruisers comes into play, offering peace of mind and financial protection in case of weather-related damage. Below, we are going to have a quick look at how sailboat insurance covers weather damage and why it’s essential for Caribbean yacht adventures.

  • Comprehensive Coverage:

Sailboat insurance for cruisers provides comprehensive coverage for a wide range of weather-related perils, including storms, hurricanes, lightning strikes, and heavy winds. These policies are specifically tailored to the unique risks faced by sailors, ensuring. That your vessel and its contents are protected against potential damage caused by adverse weather conditions.

  • Damage to Hull and Equipment:

One of the primary benefits of sailboat insurance is coverage for damage to the hull and equipment. In the event of a storm or other weather-related incident, your policy will typically cover the cost of repairing or replacing damaged components such as sails, rigging, electronics, and hull structures. This ensures that you can get back on the water quickly without facing a significant financial burden.

  • Salvage and Towing Costs:

In the event of a weather-related incident that leaves your sailboat stranded or in need of assistance, sailboat insurance can cover the costs associated with salvage and towing. Whether your vessel needs to be towed to shore for repairs or salvaged from a hazardous situation. Having insurance coverage can save you from having to pay these expenses out of pocket.

  • Protection for Personal Belongings:

In addition to covering damage to your sailboat itself, sailboat insurance policies also typically provide protection for your personal belongings on board. This can include coverage for items such as clothing, electronics, navigation equipment, and other personal items. That may be damage or lost due to weather-related incidents.

  • Liability Coverage:

Sailboat insurance for cruisers also typically includes liability coverage. Which protects you in the event that you cause damage to someone else’s property or injure another person while operating your vessel. This coverage can help cover the costs of legal fees, medical expenses, and property damage claims. That may arise from a weather-related incident.

  • Navigational Limits:

When selecting the best Caribbean yacht insurance , it’s essential to choose a policy that offers adequate navigational limits. Some insurance policies may restrict coverage to certain geographic areas or impose additional premiums for sailing in high-risk regions. Be sure to review the navigational limits of your policy carefully to ensure. That you’re adequately cover for your intended cruising grounds.

  • Emergency Assistance Services:

Finally, many sailboat insurance policies include access to emergency assistance services, such as 24/7 helplines and support for emergency repairs. These services can be invaluable in the event of a weather-related emergency, providing you with the support and resources you need to navigate safely through challenging conditions.

Conclusion :

Sailboat insurance for cruisers is an essential investment for anyone embarking on Caribbean yacht adventures or sailing in other high-risk areas. From comprehensive coverage for weather-related damage to protection for personal belongings and liability coverage. Agood insurance policy offers peace of mind and financial security when navigating stormy seas.

When selecting sailboat insurance, it’s essential to choose a reputable provider like BluewaterYacht Insurance that offers tailored coverage options and exceptional customer service. With the right insurance coverage in place, you can sail with confidence. Knowing that you’re protected against the uncertainties of the open water. At Bluewater Yacht Insurance, we’re committee to helping sailors enjoy worry-free adventures on the high seas. Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive insurance solutions for sailboats and yachts.

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Hurricane Beryl Triggers Record Payout for Caribbean Insurer

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Hurricane Beryl’s path of destruction through the Caribbean last week triggered a record $44 million payout to the nation of Grenada from a regional catastrophe insurance fund.

The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, or CCRIF, said it will be paying Grenada $42 million in cyclone insurance, $1.1 million in fisheries insurance and $549,000 for excess rainfall tied to Beryl.

CCRIF’s single-largest payout before the storm was about $40 million to Haiti following its 2021 earthquake.

The storm also triggered payouts in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for $1.8 million, Trinidad and Tobago for $373,000, and an undetermined amount for Jamaica, the facility said in a statement Wednesday. Since its inception in 2007, CCRIF has made 65 payouts totaling more than $274 million.

Beryl hit the Caribbean as the earliest Category 5 storm on record, causing as much as $1.5 billion in damage in the Windward Islands, according to an analysis by CoreLogic . Two of Grenada’s outer islands, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, “were completely devastated,” Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell reiterated Tuesday.

Photograph: Fishermen watch their damaged fishing boats after the passage of Hurricane Beryl in Bridgetown, Barbados, July 1, 2024. Photo credit: Randy Brooks/AFP/Getty Images

  • Caribbean Braces for Economic Punch After Season’s Deadly 1st Hurricane

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Is Disney World’s Jungle Cruise closing? Here’s what to know before your next trip to Magic Kingdom

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Planning a trip to see the 8th Wonder of the World? You might want to hold off until the holiday season.

Disney World announced that its Jungle Cruise attraction at Magic Kingdom will be closed because of refurbishments starting Aug. 26.

Why is Jungle Cruise closed at Disney World in Orlando?

The exact reasons for the refurbishment has not been released. WDW Magic does share that several permits were recently filed for the attraction, including one with contractor Underwater Engineering Services Inc.

Theme parks fans know the ride has gone through different "reimaginings," adding new animatronics and details to its backstory. It has not been closed to refurbishment since 2017.

When will Jungle Cruise reopen at Disney World in Orlando?

While the company has not announced a specific reopening date, it has shared on its website that the attraction is scheduled to reopen before the winter holidays begin at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

However, the ride has been removed from the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party attraction lists.

Is there a 'Jungle Cruise' movie? How to stream movie starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Emily Blunt

For those who already have a trip to Disney's Magic Kingdom set for fall 2024, you can still get your Jungle Cruise fix.

Disney turned its iconic rides into a movie in 2021, joining the ranks of "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Haunted Mansion" and "Tower of Terror."

Set in 1917 during World War I , USA TODAY wrote that the Jungle Cruise movie stars Emily Blunt as Lily Houghton, a British botanist in search of a legendary ancient tree that has petals with amazing healing properties and the potential to change medicine forever. She needs a way to get to it, though, and she heads down to South America where she meets Frank Wolff (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), a financially strapped riverboat captain who gives tourists jungle rides chock full of groan-worthy jokes and the occasional factoid.

More: Emily Blunt, Dwayne Johnson reveal most awkward 'Jungle Cruise' kiss, dirty jokes cut by Disney

Lily hires Frank and set sail in his dilapidated vessel to find their treasure, dealing with pesky natives, rocky waterfalls and other various obstacles on the way. 

The movie also stars Jesse Plemons, Edgar Ramírez and Jack Whitehall.

What other ride, attraction closures are at Disney World resorts in Orlando?

As of July 15, here are the refurbishment closures announced for Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida:

  • World Premiere Food Court , EPCOT - until July 31, 2024
  • Peter Pan's Flight , Magic Kingdom - until Aug. 20, 2024
  • Stormalong Bay and Shipwreck Pool , Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort - TBA
  • Fantasia Pool , Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort - TBA

Disney Tourist Blog also notes that permits have been filed for Big Thunder Mountain at Magic Kingdom, saying it's an "open secret that the roller coaster is closing for roughly one-year." There has not been any announcements from Disney World.

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At Least 40 Migrants Die in Boat Fire Off Haitian Coast, U.N. Says

The boat was carrying over 80 people and bound for Turks and Caicos. The disaster underscores the gang-fueled crisis that has spurred many Haitians to leave.

By David C. Adams and James Wagner

David C. Adams reported from Miami, and James Wagner from Mexico City.

At least 40 migrants were killed when a boat they were traveling on from Haiti caught fire, a United Nations agency announced on Friday. The boat, which was carrying over 80 people, left the northern coast of Haiti on Wednesday en route for the Turks and Caicos Islands 150 miles away, the agency said .

An additional 41 migrants were rescued from the boat by the Haitian Coast Guard, the agency said, with 11 taken to a hospital. It said the boat caught fire off the coast of Cap-Haïtien, a city in northern Haiti.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

The episode, which took place around 3 a.m. Wednesday, was another disaster for the Caribbean country, which has been upended by rampant gang violence and an unfolding humanitarian crisis. This year, coordinated gang attacks rocked the capital, Port-au-Prince, forcing the closure of its airport for nearly three months. Since then, nearly 580,000 Haitians have been internally displaced, according to the U.N.

“This devastating event highlights the risks faced by children, women and men migrating through irregular routes, demonstrating the crucial need for safe and legal pathways for migration,” Grégoire Goodstein, the head of the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration in Haiti, said in a statement on Friday.

He said that Haiti’s socioeconomic situation was dire and that the “extreme violence” over the past months has pushed Haitians to resort to “desperate measures even more.”

The U.N.’s International Organization for Migration in Haiti said it had confirmed the number of survivors with its personnel on the ground and with Haiti’s National Office of Migration.

Cap-Haïtien, the country’s second-largest city, has been relatively unaffected by the gang violence that has wracked the country in recent months, but it is a jumping-off point for migrants. Attacks on public transportation, including on the main road between Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haïtien, has limited the potential for migrant smuggling.

Haiti has experienced a wave of gang violence that has brought surges in kidnappings, killings and the takeover of much of Port-au-Prince since the assassination in July 2021 of President Jovenel Moïse by armed men who broke into his bedroom and gunned him down in front of his wife. His killing is still under separate investigations in Haiti and Florida.

Amid the disorder, Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigned in late April. In May, Garry Conille, a former U.N. official, was appointed prime minister by a presidential transitional council.

Eight months after the United Nations authorized the use of international forces to be deployed to Haiti, the first wave of foreign law enforcement officers from Kenya arrived last month to try to wrest control of Port-au-Prince from dozens of armed groups that have attacked police stations, freed prisoners and killed with impunity.

The Kenyans in Haiti are the first of an expected 2,500-member multinational force to deploy, an effort largely organized by the Biden administration.

Since March, the U.N. migration agency said, the Haitian Coast Guard has observed an increase in the number of departures by boat. Coast Guards from countries in the region, including the United States, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and Jamaica, have also reported a growing number of boats originating from Haiti being intercepted at sea.

On Thursday, American and Bahamian officials announced the suspension of a search for a missing boat with an estimated 60 migrants bound for Florida. It was believed to have departed on July 4 from a collection of islands in the Bahamas that is a popular jumping-off point for Haitian migrants trying to reach the United States.

In June, a group of 117 migrants from Haiti arrived off Key West, Fla., in a sailboat, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Overall, maritime migration of Haitians — as well as Cubans fleeing for financial and political reasons — to the United States has reached its highest levels since the 1990s, according to numbers complied by the Migration Policy Institute , a nonpartisan research organization based in Washington.

It estimated that 7,000 Haitians and 6,000 Cubans were intercepted at sea by United States officials during the 2022 fiscal year, and that initial data showed similar trends for the 2023 fiscal year.

James Wagner covers Latin America, including sports, and is based in Mexico City. A Nicaraguan American from the Washington area, he is a native Spanish speaker. More about James Wagner

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    Why AMT. Commitment to marine and transport insurance. Comprehensive high quality service backed by sound underwriting and adequate reserves. Claims handling carried out by experienced claims executives exchanging tacit knowledge with underwriters. Dedicated team skilled and experienced in marine, focused on value creation for customers.

  20. What's the best Caribbean cruise line for me?

    Travel insurance is the best way to ensure smooth sailings on your Caribbean cruise. Typical cruise insurance rates hover around 5 to 10% of your total trip cost. ... as the ship will wait for you, and there's nothing worse than missing the boat. Explore related stories. Read more articles. Budget Travel.

  21. Best Caribbean Yacht Insurance

    When selecting the best Caribbean yacht insurance, it's essential to choose a policy that offers adequate navigational limits. Some insurance policies may restrict coverage to certain geographic areas or impose additional premiums for sailing in high-risk regions. Be sure to review the navigational limits of your policy carefully to ensure.

  22. Eastern Caribbean Travel Insurance

    Freshly-caught fish go straight from the boat to the kitchen. Orient Bay Beach is the most popular nude beach in the Caribbean. Children or general animal-lovers will enjoy the Butterfly Farm (Le Ferme des Papillons). ... Eastern Caribbean Travel Insurance. We highly suggest that part of your travel preparation include purchasing travel health ...

  23. Boat & Watercraft Insurance

    Personal insurance quotes available for residents of Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and North Dakota only. We offer policies for a wide variety of pleasure boats. From sailboats to powerboats, we will recommend the right boat insurance or watercraft insurance coverage for your needs.

  24. Hurricane Beryl Triggers Record Payout for Caribbean Insurer

    The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, or CCRIF, said it will be paying Grenada $42 million in cyclone insurance, $1.1 million in fisheries insurance and $549,000 for excess rainfall ...

  25. Boats, Motorcycles, RVs and ATVs

    Get a quote online here or contact our office online or call us at (208) 746-9646 or (208) 882-8544 or send an email to [email protected] to get your motorcycle quote! Note: We are licensed and can provide personal insurance products, including in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Utah and North Dakota (as of October 2015). American ...

  26. Jungle Cruise to close for refurbishment in August at Magic Kingdom

    You won't be able to sail along the Nile River in Disney's Magic Kingdom starting in August. The Jungle Cruise is closing for refurbishments

  27. OPEC+ unlikely to change oil output policy at Aug 1 JMMC meeting

    A mini OPEC+ ministerial meeting next month is unlikely to recommend changing the group's output policy, including a plan to start unwinding one layer of oil output cuts from October, three ...

  28. Boat Fire off Haitian Coast Leaves At Least 40 Migrants Dead

    The boat was carrying over 80 people and bound for Turks and Caicos. The disaster underscores the gang-fueled crisis that has spurred many Haitians to leave. By David C. Adams and James Wagner ...