Can DACA Recipients Go On A Cruise?

DACA recipients are those people who entered the US unlawfully as a child, but have now been granted protected status to allow them to apply for a work permit, a driver’s license and a social security number.

But can someone on DACA go on a cruise? After all, they aren’t granted citizenship of the US under the policy – would they be allowed to return to the US once their cruise was completed?

Explorer Cruise ship

Can you go on a cruise with DACA?

Generally, DACA recipients are not able to go on a cruise that leaves the US. Even if the person does not leave the ship, they will have been considered to have left the US, and without a permit (which cannot be sought for the purposes of a vacation), they would not be readmitted. Only cruises wholly within the US are suitable for DACA recipients.

Unfortunately, for those protected by DACA, they are very limited in the travel they are allowed to do. The US government website clearly states that anyone receiving DACA is risking their status by engaging in unauthorized travel outside the country, and it may interrupt their status of continuous residence.

US cruise with DACA

The only permitted way to travel outside the US as a DACA recipient is to successfully apply for Advance Parole. However, you are only allowed to apply for Advance Parole for one of three reasons:

  • Humanitarian – traveling for medical treatment, or to visit a sick or elderly relative, or for a funeral for a family member
  • Educational – specifically for academic research or studying a semester abroad
  • Employment – undertaking overseas assignments, attending meetings or training etc.

A cruise doesn’t fall under any of these. You might argue it’s educational as you learn about the world, but those guidelines are strict.

And so DACA recipients can’t apply for Advance Parole, meaning they can’t go on any cruise that leaves US waters.

This does leave some exceptions – mainly US river cruises, Great Lakes cruises, and cruises to Hawaii on the Pride of America – Norwegian Cruise Line’s ship that is unique as being an ocean cruise ship homeberthed in the US and that exclusively offers cruises to Hawaii.

Can DACA recipients go on closed-loop cruises?

DACA recipients are not permitted to travel on closed-loop cruises. While closed-loop cruises are return cruises from the US, they visit other countries and so even if the recipient does not leave the ship, they are considered to have left the country and may be refused re-entry.

closed-loop cruises

There’s a little bit of confusion over closed-loop cruises because US citizens can usually sail on them without a passport. However, they are still required to show documentation such as a birth certificate which proves they are a US citizen.

DACA recipients are not US citizens and so can’t board these cruises without risking the fact they may not be allowed back into the country when their cruise is completed.

Suggested read: The Best Cruises For 18-Year-Olds

Can DACA recipients go on a cruise to Hawaii?

DACA recipients are able to go on a cruise to Hawaii provided it is on an itinerary that exclusively sails to Hawaii and back to the US – they cannot sail on a ship that visits any other country. The Pride of America – the NCL ship which only sails to Hawaii – is the most suitable option.

cruise to Hawaii

However, while this does provide options for DACA recipients who want to cruise, you must understand that the Pride of America tends to offer cruises that are more expensive than other NCL cruises. That’s because, as a US-flagged ship with only US crew, the ship is more costly to run.

Still, while it may be an expensive choice, it is one of the only options for an ocean cruise for DACA recipients and so it is worth considering.

Can DACA recipients go on a cruise to Alaska?

DACA recipients generally can’t board a cruise to Alaska because most of them dock in a port in Canada as part of the itinerary. While some cruises don’t call at Canadian ports, the ship would be considered international travel and so re-entry to the US could be denied.

cruise to Alaska

So unfortunately if you’re a DACA recipient who found a cruise only sailing to US ports, including Alaska, you probably shouldn’t risk it as you are likely to be refused re-entry to the US when you sail back home. You can fly to Alaska, but even then you are taking a risk on your return.

Can DACA recipients go on a cruise to the Bahamas?

Recipients of DACA can’t cruise to the Bahamas – it’s considered leaving the country, and they would put themselves at serious risk of being denied re-entry to the US on their return. DACA recipients must stay within the US to retain their status of continuous residence, on which their DACA hinges.

cruise to Bahamas

Can DACA recipients go on a cruise to the Caribbean?

DACA recipients can’t cruise to the Caribbean. Any international travel for DACA recipients must be accompanied by an Advance Parole permit, which only covers travel for humanitarian, educational or employment reasons. A cruise to the Caribbean would not be covered and Advance Parole could not be applied for.

Cruise to Caribbean

Can DACA recipients go on a cruise to Mexico?

Anyone receiving DACA is not allowed to leave the US for recreational travel, and so a cruise to Mexico would not be allowed. The recipient would be considered to have ‘self-deported’, meaning they would be treated as an illegal immigrant on their return once again and would be denied entry to the country.


Final word

Unfortunately for DACA recipients, the options for travel are heavily restricted and ocean cruising that involves any kind of international port of call or even internationally-flagged ship would be considered breaching those guidelines.

You do have the option of a river cruise or a lakes cruise within the US, but if you’re a DACA recipient and you want the full ocean cruise experience, you’re best looking at the Pride of America and her Hawaii cruises.

She might be one of the smaller NCL cruise ships but she still has some excellent features, and so you still get the full cruise experience.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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