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OCEAN • RIVER • ADVENTURE • PORTS
Words Nahrain John
historic wonders can start
packing their bags because
cruise lines are returning to
Egyptian ports were removed
from Middle East and African
itineraries in August last
year after the coup of former
president Mohamed Morsi
sparked violent unrest.
But now cruise lines are
reintroducing Egypt into
2014/15 and 2015/16 itineraries.
Egypt back on
Holland America Line’s
Rotterdam will call into Sharm el
Sheikh and Safaga in September
during a 49-day Africa Explorer
cruise from The Netherlands to
Silversea’s Silver Spirit will
visit Alexandria for an overnight
stay before heading to Israel for
a 14-day Greece to Italy
itinerary in October. The line’s
Silver Cloud will also visit
Alexandria in November on a
12-day Greece to Italy itinerary,
while Silver Wind will call at
Alexandria, Port Said and
Sharm el Sheikh during a
16-day voyage from Greece
APT’s general manager of
marketing and sales, Debra Fox,
said the line has no immediate
plans to reinstate operations in
Egypt, but it will be included
in the line’s Luxury Small Ship
program in 2014 and 2015.
Two sailings will visit
Egypt, with guests leaving the
ship during the day to enjoy
sightseeing. “We believe this is a
much better suited travel format
for this region because it ensures
LAZY WAY TO
KEEP IN TOUCH
journey but too lazy to send
social media posts or emails?
Now you can automate your updates.
A new app called CruiseTraka
enables you to share the progress
of your cruise and the ports you’re
visiting without having to lift a finger
to a keyboard.
By combining GPS tracking of
your ship’s location with automated
guest safety at all times and gives
us the ability to reorganise plans
with minimum disruption to
the overall itinerary if necessary,”
Ms Fox said.
An MSC Cruises’
spokesperson said the line
plans to return to Alexandria
in Egypt in December 2015
and for the 2016 cruise season.
Meanwhile, the Department
of Foreign Affairs and Trade
has maintained its position on
Egypt and is advising Australian
travellers to reconsider the need
to travel there.
update messaging through social
media or email, CruiseTraka lets you
share your journey as it happens. And
if you are connected to friends via
Facebook or Twitter, CruiseTraka can
be used to automatically send update
posts to your contacts.
When your ship reaches a new
port, your friends can click a link to
see a GPS tracking map that displays
your ship’s location. You can even
have CruiseTraka send daily emails
with a summary of ports visited each
day and a link to the GPS tracking
map for your cruise.
The CruiseTraka service is free,
simple and entirely automated – you
just enjoy your cruise and let the app
keep your friends updated on your
progress. The app includes a free
online photo album.
CruiseTraka is available on all
major cruise lines and ships sailing
from Australian ports.
You can register for the service
Many people do not realise that
a Medicare card is often useless
when they are on a cruise.
Words Nahrain John
Picture the scene. You are cruising
between Sydney and Brisbane when
you have a fall and need medical
treatment. The doctor thinks you may have
broken an arm, and suggests you wait in
the medical centre until the ship reaches
port in two days.
Since you believe you haven’t left
Australian waters, you’re relaxed about the
bill because you assume Medicare will help.
Think again. Unless the doctor has
Medicare-eligible status, you may find
yourself facing a hefty bill.
Unfortunately, many lines use
international crews and do not carry
Medicare-eligible doctors, yet with more
ships across the country on all-Australian
itineraries it is a common error to think a
Medicare card will protect you at sea.
The Australian Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade website advises travellers
that “Medicare benefits are payable only
when travelling between two Australian
ports and if services are provided by a
A doctor, nurse or other health
practitioner must be registered with the
Australian Health Practitioner Regulation
Agency and have access to Australian
provider numbers for Medicare cover
to apply. However, there is no formal
requirement for cruise lines to employ
Royal Caribbean International
commercial director Sean Treacy said
the company did not have Medicare-
eligible doctors, adding that since most
of the line’s cruises leave Australian
waters, the benefits would not apply
in any case.
P&O Cruises spokesperson
David Jones said the line
contracted onboard doctors globally.
“Itineraries that involve only Australian
ports account for only a small proportion
of total passenger cruise days across a wide
range of itineraries,” Mr Jones said. “ W here
an Australian doctor is contracted, it would
not be on the basis of him or her holding a
Medicare provider number.”
So if you are sick at sea, even in
Australian waters, you’re not likely to see a
health practitioner registered with Medicare
and will be held responsible for any medical
expenses incurred during the cruise.
Natalie Ball said the cost of medical
treatment at sea varies, but it can run
into thousands. For example, if you were
to break your leg on a cruise ship, the first
thing you’d have to do is see the onboard
doctor. A visit to the medical centre can
cost from $150 to $200.
Then, as cruise ships are not floating
hospitals and may not equipped with
the right medical equipment to handle
something like a broken bone, you would
either have to be flown to the closest
hospital, which can cost up to $20,000, or
wait in the medical centre at a cost of about
$5,000 a day, until you reach a port.
National Seniors Insurance emphasised
the importance of taking out travel
insurance before going on a cruise.
“ Travel insurance providers have
emergency assistance teams operating 24
hours a day,” a company spokesperson said.
“In addition to non-medical
emergencies, they will help with medical
problems, including locating the nearest
port with medical facilities and, if need be,
arranging your evacuation home.”
When choosing a travel policy,
National Seniors said cruisers
should look for a plan that
covers cancellations, medical
emergencies, emergency dental,
additional expenses related to
medical evacuation and out-
of-pocket medical expenses.
For example, a basic
policy covering medical
and personal liability
for two adults on a two-
week Australian cruise
can be found for $97 at
For more comprehensive
coverage, including accidental
death, loss of income, overseas
medical coverage and theft
of cash, the cost is $283.
So what do you do? Pay $100-
$300 before you leave or risk a bill
of $20,000 after something happens?
Suddenly travel insurance isn’t looking
so bad after all.
Weasked Cruise Passenger readers
whether they bought travel
insurance before they leave and this is
what they had to say:
LORRAINE: People seem to think
travel insurance is expensive and
that it will cost hundreds and hundreds
when actually it doesn’t.
GRAEME: I never travel without
insurance, even when cruising locally.
GEOFF: Even if doctors on our
cruise ships had Medicare provider
numbers, they would be loath to offer
it, as they would have to bulk bill
anyone with a health-care card.
If you can afford to cruise, you can
afford travel insurance.
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