We all like to think that if we, as Swedes, Americans, Italians or Germans, book a cruise, the travel agent or the cruise line we book with will let us know everything we need in order to get on the ship and into the destinations where we’re sailing.
But in fact, that’s not the case. Passengers are always responsible for securing their own visas and passports. As Europeans and Americans, given the luxury we have in being able to visit so many parts of the world without a visa, we sometimes forget to do this.
I have received quite a few letters from angry passengers who have been left behind because they failed to get the proper documentation to enter ports on their cruises.
In a case publicized earlier this year, 109 people were left at the dock in Fort Lauderdale watching the Carnival Splendor set sail, because they hadn’t secured visas for a port call in Brazil.
For Americans, this happens far too often on itineraries that include Brazil, one of the few in South America that demands a visa of Americans.
There have also been mishaps that have led to court cases filed by people from other parts of the world who didn’t know that almost any cruise to Alaska originating in the United States will include a stop in Canada. Those who fail to obtain a visa for Canada won’t be able embark the ship. (Note that U.S. citizens aren’t required to have visas to enter Canada.)
Passengers generally have no recourse in a U.S. court of law. They are reminded that the responsibility to get the right visa or passport falls on them. This is indicated in every cruise line’s contract. Passengers will often be asked to sign or initial those documents, indicating that they know this – so read the small print.
The reason cruise lines insist on the passenger being responsible for their own paperwork is that they say it would be difficult to keep up with the ever-changing policies of nations vis-a-vis other nations.
And as people from all over the world take cruises all around the world, the lines would have trouble knowing the multitude of visa rules they would have to comply with.
What do you think? Should cruise lines be responsible for their passengers visas and passports?