5 Things Every Beneficiary Should Know About Medicare Coverage and Cruise Ships

How does Medicare coverage work while you’re out of the country on a cruise? Here are five things to know about Medicare benefits, costs and coverage before you take your next cruise.

Did you know that your Medicare insurance won’t typically cover routine health care you receive outside of the United States? This could have a potentially costly impact if you go on a cruise and need medical care while you’re on your trip.

Here are five things you should know about how Medicare does ­– and doesn’t ­– cover beneficiaries on a cruise. 

1. Medicare may cover medically necessary care on a cruise ship

Medicare Part A and Part B (known together as Original Medicare) may provide coverage for care that is received on a cruise ship if each of the following conditions apply:

Compare plans today.

Speak with a licensed insurance agent


  • The care is medically necessary
  • The cruise ship that you are on when you receive the care is in U.S. waters (within six hours of a U.S. port)
  • The doctor rendering the care is legally allowed to provide medical services aboard a cruise ship

2. Medicare may be used in more places than you think

Medicare is not restricted to only the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. It is also available in U.S. Territories.

Original Medicare coverage is also valid in:

  • Puerto Rico
  • Guam
  • American Samoa
  • The U.S. Virgin Islands
  • The Mariana Islands.

3. There may be situations when emergency care can be covered in a foreign hospital

In most situations, Medicare will not provide any coverage for emergency care that is received outside of the of the U.S. or a U.S. territory. 

There are a few exceptions to this rule, however, that may apply while on a cruise.

If you are in the U.S. or a U.S. territory when an emergency occurs and the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat the injury or illness, Medicare will provide coverage for the care received at the foreign hospital.

4. Some types of Medigap plans can help pay for foreign emergency medical care

While Original Medicare is limited in its coverage of emergency care received outside of the U.S. and U.S. territories, some Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans provide coverage for emergency care received outside of the U.S.

These plans provide 80% coverage of the emergency care costs after you meet an annual deductible (there is also a lifetime maximum benefit):

5. Some Medicare Advantage plans may provide coverage during foreign travel

Some Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans may provide coverage for emergency care received during foreign travel.

If you have such a plan, contact your plan carrier to see if you might be eligible for coverage during your cruise.

You can get help comparing Medicare Advantage plans available near you by calling today to speak with a licensed insurance agent. A licensed agent can help you compare coverage, benefits, costs and more.

You can also compare plans online for free, with no obligation to enroll.

Compare Medicare Advantage plans in your area that cover skin cancer

Compare Plans

Or call TTY Users: 711 to speak with a licensed insurance agent. We accept calls 24/7!


About the author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with MedicareAdvantage.com. He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

Christian has written hundreds of articles for MedicareAvantage.com that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at Mike@tzhealthmedia.com.

MarketWatch logo

Yahoo Finance logo 


WebMD Logo

South Florida Sun Sentinel Logo

WRAL.com Logo

Deseret News Logo

Healthcare Finance Logo