Visa requirements for cruise holidays can be pretty complicated. You’ll probably be visiting several different countries during your cruise, and the visa rules for cruise passengers are sometimes different than for people who are arriving by land or transiting through airports.
This guide to the visa requirements for British passport holders will show you what visas you need for your cruise and how to obtain them.
Visa requirements can change at any time. It’s recommended that you check the visa requirements for every country that you’ll enter during your cruise on the UK government website.
Do UK Cruise Ship Passengers Need Visas?
UK passport holders may require a visa when visiting certain destinations on a cruise ship. Even if you do not get off the ship, you may still need a visa to be allowed to embark. It’s important to check the visa requirements for each country carefully.
So, here’s an overview of the visa requirements for each country at the time of writing, as well as where you can go to get the latest information…
UK citizens travelling to or transiting through the United States for a cruise must obtain an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) before arrival. As the United Kingdom is part of the USA’s Visa Waiver Program, a full visa isn’t needed, but UK passport holders must obtain an ESTA for cruises that involve entry into the US.
If you plan to be in the United States at all, even very briefly, then you need an ESTA. You will need an Esta for transiting through the United States to reach your cruise departure port even if you don’t leave the airport.
As Alaska is part of the United States of America, UK citizens travelling to Alaska on a cruise must obtain an ESTA. The United Kingdom is part of the USA’s Visa Waiver Program, so a full visa isn’t needed, but UK passport holders must obtain an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) before arrival.
British citizens do not need a visa to travel to the Bahamas. However, if your visit the United States at any point during your cruise holiday, including transiting through a US airport, then you must obtain an ESTA before travel.
British passport holders do not need a visa to enter Bermuda on a cruise. However, if you plan to visit the United States at any point then you must obtain an ESTA for entry into the US.
UK citizens flying into Canada must obtain an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization). However, if you arrive at a Canadian port by cruise ship then an eTA or visa is not usually required.
You can check the latest Canadian visa requirements on the Government of Canada website.
UK citizens don’t usually require a visa for a Caribbean cruise. However, if you fly via the US or visit any US ports of call during your cruise then you will require an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization).
British tourists entering Cuba must obtain a tourist card. This is a paper card that you must keep with your passport. US law prevents anyone from travelling directly from the United States to Cuba for tourism purposes.
You can apply for a Cuba visa online via your travel agent or contact the Cuban Embassy for more information.
Citizens of the United Kingdom can enter Mexico without a visa. If travelling to Mexico on a cruise ship, you must only visit the surrounding area and must leave on the same ship to continue the journey.
UK citizens require a visa to cruise to Cambodia, even if staying on board the ship. Electronic visas obtained online are only valid to enter Cambodia by air or land.
You can check the latest visa requirements for Cambodia on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Co-operation website.
Anyone visiting China on a cruise must ensure that they have the right visa for China. Depending on your cruise itinerary, you may need a single or double entry visa. It’s important that you provide full details of your cruise itinerary when applying for a visa for China.
All visa applicants between the age of 14 and 70 must apply for a Chinese visa in person at a Visa application centre.
Hong Kong Cruises
UK passport holders do not usually need a visa to cruise to Hong Kong. However, if you intend to visit mainland China before or after your cruise then you will need to obtain a visa for China.
Anyone who doesn’t hold an Indian passport must obtain a visa to visit India on a cruise. If you do not have an Indian visa, then it may be possible to remain on board the ship in Indian ports of call.
Visas for travel to India can take several months to process. The application can be tricky to complete and you must ensure that you select the right type of visa, as the wrong visa could result in you being blacklisted for travel.
Brits taking a cruise to Japan may require a visa. If you require a visa and do not have one, then you will not be allowed to board your cruise ship.
The visa rules for Japan may be subject to change at short notice, so be sure to check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan website for the latest information.
All UK cruise passengers arriving in the Maldives by cruise ship will receive a visa on arrival free of charge.
For further information on entry requirements for the Maldives, you should contact the High Commission of the Republic of Maldives in the UK or the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Maldives.
UK nationals must apply for a visa to enter Myanmar (Burma) on a cruise. You cannot use an electronic eVisa to enter Myanmar by sea. You should contact your travel agent or cruise line to arrange the visa.
British passport holders may require a visa to enter Oman. For cruise passengers, this is usually arranged by the cruise line. If you visit Oman for one day only, the visa is usually free of charge, but if the ship is in Oman for 48 hours or more then there may be a charge.
It’s recommended that you speak to your travel agent or cruise line representative for more information.
Sri Lanka Cruises
All cruise passengers must obtain an electronic ETA visa before arrival in to Sri Lanka. The visa is free of charge but must be obtained at least 48 hours in advance. If you do not have the required visa then you must remain on the ship in Sri Lankan ports.
You can apply for a Transit ETA visa for Sri Lanka via the Sri Lanka Electronic Travel Authorization System website.
United Arab Emirates
UK citizens travelling to the UAE on a cruise will receive a visa upon arrival in the United Arab Emirates free of charge.
British citizens must obtain a visa to visit Australia on a cruise. This applies to guests embarking or debarking in Australia, visiting a port of call in Australia or transiting through Australia to start a cruise elsewhere.
There are several types of visas for Australia including the ETA (Electronic Travel Authority), the eVisitor visa and the Transit visa. You can get help in choosing the right one for your cruise by using the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs website.
New Zealand Cruises
UK citizens visiting New Zealand on a cruise must have a visa. If you do not have a visa, then you will be denied boarding. Remaining on the cruise ship is not an option.
The NZeTA visa can be purchased from the New Zealand immigration website or app.
List of Countries You Can Cruise To Without A Visa
UK citizens can cruise to any of the following countries without the need for a visa:
- New Caledonia
- Reunion Island
- South Africa
You can also cruise to any country in geographical Europe without the need for a visa.
What if Your Visa is Refused?
Visas can be refused for all kinds of reasons, such as ticking the wrong box or even using the wrong colour of ink. To make sure that you have the best chance of getting your visa approved, you should be careful to read all of the questions thoroughly before filling out the application.
Be sure to apply for your visa in plenty of time so that you have time to try again if your visa is refused.
Can You Stay On the Ship Instead of Getting a Visa?
If you don’t have the necessary visa for your cruise, some countries will allow you to remain on the ship when it docks. However, some countries insist that visas are checked before boarding, so, depending on the rules, you may be denied boarding altogether.
The Bottom Line
So, do cruise ship passengers need visas? Well, the visa requirements for cruises are complicated. Luckily, there are many countries that allow UK citizens entry without a visa. Any time that you travel outside of Europe, you should check the latest visa requirements via an official government website, your cruise line or your travel agent.
Make sure that you do your research when it comes to which visas you need for your cruise, so that you won’t be left disappointed by not being able to visit any of the places that you want to.
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