Do I Need A Visa For My Cruise?

Posted on May 21, 2018 by Guest Writer

British passport holders are able to visit more than 170 countries without a visa. But there are still some places that require a little paperwork before you can explore them – even if you are on a cruise. While most cruise lines and travel agents will sort this out for you, applying directly to the relevant embassy can save you some money. Just be sure to go on the official website so as to avoid any unnecessary third party charges.

Here are a few popular ports of call that need a little forward planning before you embark on your cruise. We’ve also included some links to the relevant sites where you can find more information.


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If your cruise itinerary includes Australia then you will need to obtain an eVisitor directly from the Australian Department of Immigration & Border Protection, or an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) via your agent or airline – even if you are staying onboard the ship.

The Australian government also calls for most travellers over the age of 75 to undergo a health examination before they can obtain their visa. So if this applies to you then it’s worth factoring in some extra time to get your visa sorted.


United States of America

UK Citizens will need an electronic ESTA permit to enter the US, prior to arrival – even if you are staying on board the ship. This also applies to the ports of San Juan, the Hawaiian Islands and the US Virgin Islands. You can do this on the US Customs and Border Protection website.

If you hold a British passport but are not classed as a Full UK Citizen, then you will need to apply for a full tourist visa which requires an interview at the US embassy in London or Belfast.
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If your itinerary includes a visit to Canada by land or sea then you don’t need a visa. However, if you will be flying into the country you will need an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) prior to travel, which you can obtain on the Canadian government website. It costs around £4.



Visiting China can be a little more complicated depending where you are sailing in to and what you plan to do whilst there. Hong Kong and Macau are classed as ‘Special Administrative Regions’ and don’t need a visa.  A 15 day free visa stay is granted to anyone in transit sailing in and out of Shanghai on the same vessel and allows you to travel to various coastal provinces within that time.

If you wish to visit Sanya on Hainan Island then you can do so without a visa, provided you are taking part in an organised excursion. Any other form of travel within China will need a visa which can be applied for on the Visa for China website.



Visiting India requires a valid Tourist Visa or an Electronic Visa – the former being a little easier to get through customs due to the process of verifying eVisas on arrival. Both of these can be obtained online via the Indian Government website as well as more information on which visa is most suitable for your trip.

Applying for an eVisa requires you to submit a photo of yourself and to scan in the bio page from your passport, which can sometimes be a little tricky when trying to get the size and resolution right. India also has a tendency to change its entry requirements quite regularly so be sure to check in plenty of time before you travel.
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If you are heading to St Petersburg then you can go ashore without a visa, provided you are booked onto an organised excursion – either via your cruise line or certain authorised local travel agencies. If you’re wanting to explore independently then you’ll need to apply to VFS Global  for a visa in advance of travel. You’ll also need to attend one of the offices in London, Manchester or Edinburgh to provide fingerprints, though there is a new mobile biometric service now available for an extra fee which utilises your own touchscreen devices such as phones and tablets.


Travel Tip: Check a few weeks before you travel to see if there have been any unexpected changes to visa requirements. You can find links to most embassies via the UK Foreign Office website as well as information on entry requirements and general travel advice.