Ensure you are fully prepared
Whether you’re embarking on your first cruise or you’re an old hand at life on deck, one of the most important aspects of planning your trip is ensuring you have the correct documents to hand. In the flurry of last-minute packing, it’s all too easy for tasks to get overlooked, and the idea of your longed-for holiday being brought to an unexpected halt due to a lack of correct documentation simply doesn’t bear thinking about. Passport control may not work in the same way as it does when you arrive at a destination by plane, but that doesn’t make it any less crucial to have the right documentation. Here are a few titbits of information which might help ensure the process is plain sailing.
Passport and visa requirements
Travelling across the ocean or through a region on board a ship can provide passengers with a slightly deceptive feeling of being cut off from the rules and regulations of the outside world. However, whilst you won’t be queuing up at border control in the middle of the sea, any British Citizen will still need a valid passport for their journey. Whilst it’s essential to check requirements with the embassies of the countries you plan to visit, you can count on needing at least six months validity on your passport after your date of return and enough blank space for any entry or exit stamps.
As well as ensuring your passport is in order, you may require a visa for certain countries. British passport holders may be able to visit over 170 countries without needing a visa, but you might be surprised at the number of popular destinations that do require one. Always give yourself plenty of time when purchasing visas, just in case the application is delayed or rejected over a small omission or error. A holiday is supposed to be a time to relax and unwind – make sure you start off on the right foot and give yourself no cause for stress.
One country’s visa that can cause some confusion when cruising is the US. British nationals need to fill in an ESTA application which requires an address whilst in the country to complete. If you are not staying on shore, you can class yourself as visiting ‘in transit’ or select ‘unknown’ and put the name of the ship as the contact. Remember, if you are staying in a hotel in the US either before or after your cruise, you need to provide the details in your application.
When are your documents checked?
Your documentation will be processed at check-in, just as it would be for a flight. Whilst the port may seem chaotic on arrival, the process tends to be rather organised with allocated windows of time provided for different passengers to check in.
When your slot of time rolls around, make sure you have your cruise documents to hand, along with your passport, so that you can be successfully checked onto the ship. You will have your photograph taken for security purposes and be given a cruise card which is used for several things: from boarding, to letting yourself into your room.
In most ports, you won’t be required to show a passport, so many passengers might feel more relaxed by keeping their precious document safe in their cabin while they’re off exploring. However, you will most definitely need your cruise card in order to leave and return to the ship and, at some ports, a form of photo ID. Bear in mind, too, that in an emergency situation or in the event you find yourself stranded in a port, passport details could prove invaluable – why not carry a copy if you’d prefer to keep the original safe.
Even on board a cruise, booking the right travel insurance is an essential step in your holiday preparations. It might feel like you are in a bubble of safety with trained staff on hand to provide assistance in a myriad of ways. But remember that you might fall ill, have an accident which requires expensive medical or hospital treatment, you could lose your valuables, or even have something pricey stolen when exploring a port. Play it safe and get a quote for specialist cruise insurance with us.Get a quote