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Arriving at Your Destination on a Cruise

Many people love to take cruises, while others feel skeptical about them. One thing that people wonder about is what it’s like to visit another country from a cruise ship.

Cruises can give travelers the opportunity to visit many different places and see highlights in many countries.

Here’s what people considering cruises need to know about arriving in a destination on a cruise vessel.

What is a Cruise?

A cruise is a vacation where travelers reside on a boat for the duration of the trip. The boat usually calls in several ports, where travelers can experience all sorts of activities.

Some cruises have a specific focus, like a type of music or traveling with a celebrity. Others focus on adventure, while others focus on family fun, education, and more.

A few cruise lines own private islands and offer stops at these during some of their voyages. These give travelers the chance to experience island life without having to worry about visas.

Travelers can usually find a cruise focused on any interest they might have. They can also find family-friendly voyages, adult-only trips, and more.

Some people use cruises to relax while others use them to see places they want to visit. Some travelers prefer to stay on the boat while others prefer to get off whenever possible.

Travelers can make a cruise work for them. No matter what they want, there is likely a cruise line that offers the trip they’ve been looking for.

How Long are Cruise Trips?

Cruise trips can last from a couple of days to a few weeks to several months. In fact, the longest one available lasts right at 9 months. 

Most cruise travelers choose cruises that are 10 days or less, simply because of their allowed vacation time and the amount they have to spend on cruising.

Sometimes, the length of the cruise will depend on the locations being visited. If travelers want to visit a large number of locations or ones that are not close together, the cruise will be longer.

What Countries Have Cruise Arrivals?

Nearly every country with a port has at least one or two cruise arrivals. 

Florida, in the USA, is the most popular cruise destination. In fact, it has the three most popular ports: Port Canaveral, Port of Miami, and Port Everglades. 

This happens because cruises from Florida can easily reach the Caribbean, which is a popular destination for many cruisers.

The Port of Cozumel is the only Mexican port in the top list, though the country does offer several other ports that many cruisers love.

The Port of Nassau and the Ports of the Out Islands are in the Bahamas, and they are also common cruise destinations. 

The Port of Shanghai is popular and offers access to Chinese delights. Other ports in Asia may be more popular, but their exact cruise data is unknown.

The Port of Barcelona and the Port of Civitavecchia (near Rome) are the most popular ports in Europe, followed by the Port of Southampton, in England.

The Port of Marseille, in France, and the Port of Venice, in Italy, are also common cruising destinations in Europe. 

Outside of the Bahamas, the Caribbean offers the Port of George Town, the Port of St. Thomas/St. John, the Port of Philipsburg, and the Port of Jamaica as popular destinations.

Travelers can literally take a cruise to almost anywhere. Sometimes, they may have to put in dedicated work to find a cruise or wait until their desired destination shows up on one.

However, travelers can visit much of the world via cruise ship. If they can’t find a trip to a destination they want, they can contact a cruise company to see if one might become available.

What Does it Look Like to Arrive on a Cruise?

Most of the time, cruise ships dock at or near major ports. Some shipping ports do not allow cruise vessels or make it hard for them.

In these cases, cruise ships may dock within an hour or two of a major city or destination area.

Sometimes, cruise ships will pull right up to a dock, so passengers can get off on foot and automatically be on dry land.

However, these docks may be quite a distance from destinations. Passengers may need to take a bus or a taxi to get where they want to go. 

Other times, cruise ships will anchor offshore and ferry people to land. They have smaller boats that they use for this.

Either way, the boat will come to a full and complete stop and staff will take all necessary safety precautions before people are allowed to get off the boat. 

Sometimes, boats stay in port for a short time. Other times, they may remain there overnight.

Most of the time, a ship will arrive early in the morning, stay for 5-9 hours, then leave again in the late afternoon or the evening.

Passengers who get off need to make sure that they know when to get back on the boat. That way, they will be able to continue their cruise as planned.

Is a Permit Needed?

In order to disembark in some locations, travelers will need to get a visa. The type of visa they need will vary based on the country they are visiting and their nationality.

Some countries - usually those that have frequent cruise visitors - offer a cruise visa. These are only available for people who are registered as travelers on cruise ships. 

Others will ask people to get a regular visa in order to disembark from a cruise ship. This may involve applying through an embassy or consulate before beginning the voyage. 

Still, other countries like Canada offer the Electronic Travel Authorizations (ETAs) for cruise visitors. Travelers will need to obtain this online before they try to get off the boat.

Finally, some countries offer entry permits for cruise visitors. These may be obtained by the cruise company for travelers taking specific excursions from one of their vessels.

Occasionally, these will need to be obtained by cruise passengers. The cruise company should tell people if they need to do this, but it’s always a good idea for individuals to check, too.

Many cruise companies will obtain necessary visas or other travel permission for people on their vessels. In these cases, travelers may have to give the company permission to do this. 

It’s always a good idea to clarify with a cruise company who is responsible for getting travel permission.

This should be done early so travelers can have their paperwork in place before they leave home. Otherwise, they may not be able to get off the boat when they want to.

What is the Policy for Leaving the Cruise Vessel?

Different vessels have different policies for leaving, and so do different countries. Most of the time, the cruise company will tell travelers what they need to do to get off the boat.

Because there are so many people on a cruise ship, disembarking needs to happen in an orderly manner.

Sometimes, travelers will be assigned a number and they can get off when their number is called. Other times, they may have a color group to disembark with.

Often, people who have certain cabins, those who have paid for early disembarking, or those registered on official excursions from the cruise company will get to leave first.

It’s up to each traveler to make sure they know when they can get off the ship. This is usually made very clear, or travelers can ask ship employees before they get to port.

Most of the time, travelers are not advised to bring their passports with them when they disembark. They should, however, have a copy of their passport to carry with them. 

If a passport is required, the cruise company will notify passengers before they arrive at such a port. Travelers should have a safe way to carry a passport so it doesn’t get stolen.

It may also be possible to show a passport, then have it officially returned to the ship for pickup later. Some cruises offer this service, while others do not.

If a port requires a visa, the cruise company will usually get it. However, in some countries, like Russia, travelers will need to get their own visa before they travel.

Disembarkation Policies

Some cruises have confusing rules about disembarking.

For instance, travelers on cruises that leave and return to the same port in the USA do not need passports, but some of the island nations they visit, like Martinique, do require passports. 

Travelers taking a cruise to Alaska from Seattle can disembark in Vancouver, Canada without a passport, but they cannot travel through that province without one.

In addition, some cruise lines, like Holland America and Princess, require travelers to carry passports, even when the governments of any countries visited do not require it. 

Travelers who are not sure what they need to disembark their ship should call and clarify this with the cruise line before they travel. That way, they will have what they need. 

Most travelers who cruise love having it as an option for scratching their travel itch. They are excited to get to see and experience new places and new things.

As long as they have the correct travel permissions ahead of time, they should be able to do these things without a problem on their next cruise.

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