Along with booking your flights and checking that your passport is in date, arranging a visa is one of the key requirements when planning a cruise holiday. Fail to get the necessary visas in place in due course, and you’ll be left unable to board your ship.
Visa requirements can change at any time, so we recommend checking with CIBT visas, which is the global leader in travel visas, to make sure that you have the necessary documents.
Which countries require a visa?
For British passport holders, visas are needed when you visit any country which isn’t included in the British passport agreements.
Currently, Britons can travel to over 170 countries without needing a visa. Luckily for us Brits, the British passport is the third best in the world for visa-free travel, behind the German passport and the Singaporean passport. However, if you plan to visit one of the countries not on the list, you’ll need to arrange a visa. You can easily check if a visa is required for your cruise by visiting cibtvisas.co.uk
How do I arrange a visa?
It’s the responsibility of travellers to make sure that they have the correct visa for their cruise. While your Six Star Cruises Concierge can help with most aspects of your luxury cruise holiday, passengers are required to apply for their own visas. The easiest way to apply for a visa is through cibtvisas.co.uk. However, if you have the time and patience you can save money by applying to the embassy yourself.
Can I just stay on the ship?
If you don’t have the necessary visas, staying on the ship can sometimes be an option, but it depends very much on the rules of each of the countries that your ship calls at.
If you plan to do this, you’ll need to check that this is allowed in each country on your cruise itinerary. In reality, not many people choose this option, as exploring new destinations is one of the main highlights of any cruise holiday.
Specific visa requirements by country
The different countries of the world have various rules and regulations around visas, and you should check cibtvisas.co.uk for the very latest information as it can change relatively frequently.
It may be the case that some countries require visas for those entering by air but not by land or sea. Others have ‘special administrative regions’ which don’t require a visa, whilst the rest of the country does. Some countries also have visa exceptions for ‘transit passengers’ – those staying in the country for only a few days. Other rules in place may include having a certain length of time left on your passport before it expires, or having a certain number of empty pages left in it.
However, it can be the case that visa rules are interpreted differently by cruise lines and local officials, so if in doubt, it’s wise to play it safe and apply for the full visa even if it costs more.
Passengers visiting St Petersburg or one of several other Russian cities, who book excursions with the cruise line, or with an authorised excursion provider, are able to go ashore on a group visa rather than having to apply for one themselves. As the visa is included in the cost of the excursion, this can be a cheaper and easier way to experience Russia during your cruise.
The alternative, should you wish to explore on your own, is to apply for a visa. This application process takes around four weeks and all applicants need to submit scanned fingerprints at a visa application centre located in London, Manchester and Edinburgh.
If you wish to get off your cruise ship in Cuba, you’ll need either a visa or a Cuba Tourist Card. Cuba Tourist cards can be purchased from your cruise line, either before you cruise or once on-board the ship. These are priced at around $75pp, which is cheaper than the Cuba visa. Depending on the cruise line, you may be required to book an excursion for each of the days that you’re in Cuba.
Passengers on cruise ships calling at India must have an Indian visa even if they do not intend to go ashore. Indian visas can take an incredibly long time to be processed and tourists are advised to apply no later than 120 days before departure. So, if you’re looking for a last-minute cruise that includes India, you’ll need to have your visa in place in plenty of time.
If you’d like any more information about the visa requirements for cruise passengers, take a look at the cibtvisas.co.uk website where you’ll find everything you need. And for any help or advice with planning your cruise holiday, please give our luxury cruise experts a call on 0808 1234 118.