Visas on a Cruise: What you need to know

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So, you’re heading off on a cruise with lots of lovely port stops, surely you don’t need to worry about visa, right?  Wrong.  Not only do you need to have the right visas, you have organise them yourself.  The cruise line takes no responsibility.

Do you really need a visa?

On a cruise you need a visa, even if you don’t intend to get off the ship in port because technically you are in the country.

A visa is permission to enter a country under specific conditions.  These conditions can cover the right to work, as well as how long you can stay in the country.  If you don’t have one you can be bundled off and deported back to your country of origin.  It’s worth noting that on a cruise there is no way of getting away without the required visas because every passenger passport is checked.

Visa DIY?

You may have to get multiple visas depending on your destinations and your nationality.  Often different rules apply depending on your nationality and the country’s biases, for example a tourist visa into India will not be granted to a Pakistani passport, and entry into United Arab Emirates is prohibited if you have a visa stamp for Israel.

Each visa will require at least one form – which may be several pages long, scans of your passport, maybe a recent passport size photo and of course a fee.  Most visas cost over $100 per person.  So, on a cruise all this can add up to a very expensive bureaucratic nightmare which may have you considering cancelling the cruise then and there.

I don’t recommend DIY for visas, life is too short.

Hassle-free visas

Going to a travel agent is the best way to avoid the headache of organising visas, however they charge a hefty fee.  Who can blame them though?  I would.

But there is a way around this.

If you can, get the travel agent to book a flight and they will probably handle your visas at cost.  You only need to get them to book flights to a certain dollar value to be able to access a hassle-free visa service.

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