Documents required to travel

If you are a European Union citizen you will not need any visa if your ship is calling European ports. If you travel only inside Europe, you will most probably need your National I.D. You will be allowed to go out of the port and visit the city and come back again to join the vessel and continue your journey. But, if the ship is going to travel to USA, you will need a valid passport and a B1/B2 USA visa. So, regardless your country of residence, if you enter USA by ship you will need a B1/B2 visa (tourist visa), which you’ll have to take in advance (prior to your arrival). In the first American port you arrive, Immigration officers who come onboard will stamp your passport and will give you a permit to stay inside USA. You will have to fill in a form, containing some personal data and a part of this form will be attached to your passport (the other part remain with the Immigration department). Along with the passport, this form will allow you to go ashore and visit the city and also allows you to come back and join the ship again. If your journey includes more American ports, you will be able to go outside the port and come back again on ship only if you present the passport together with the Form I-94 to the local authorities. In your last American port you will have to return the Form I-94 to the Immigration officers and continue the journey with the vessel outside USA. If your port of disembark is one American port you will have to return the Form I-94 to the airport, before leaving the country. Take into account the fact that you are not allowed to take this Form I-94 outside USA and loosing it can cause a lot of problems for your future travel into USA and even you can be subject to penalties.

If you travel by vessel to South America, Asia, Australia or Africa you will also need a valid passport. If you are a citizen of European Union, you may be entitled to get some visas on arrival, but some countries require a visa to be taken in advance. You can find all necessary information from your local agent with whom you booked your trip or check the internet prior to your booking – if you want to make an idea of the paper work involved.

Along with a passport and a visa you will need some more paper work to do before joining the ship. Depending on the company you are traveling with, more or less paper should be needed to take care of in order to finally get the permission of stepping on board.

The most common paper you will have to sign before joining the vessel is the Letter of Indemnity. This paper states that you are the only one who should be held responsible in case of any injuries which may occur while onboard the vessel. You are travelling by your own risks and for this reason you should comply with all the safety rules and regulation which are active on the ship in order to complete your journey safe and sound.

You will also need a medical insurance policy to cover all the area of your traveling and a health certificate to state that you are fit to travel for a period of time. The medical insurance will be most probably included in your booking fees. The health certificate can be taken from your local doctor and must be translated into English (or at least ‘Fit to travel’ words must be in English). Passengers over a certain age ( 75+) may be required to take some more medical exams.

If you travel to Africa or some parts of Asia, you can also be required to have a valid certificate of vaccinations. The most common and wide spread vaccine is the one against yellow fever which you can surely take in a hospital in your country (taking into account the time required for incubation).

It may seem that you need quite a lot of papers and preparations, but you do not have to be discouraged by it. You are to be embarked in a beautiful journey and you need to be sure that things are going to be great for you. For this reason, it is better to start preparation many months in advance. Longer the trip, the earlier you can start. Thanks to the internet, you have now many possibilities of staying informed and you can learn useful things from other travelers who like to share their adventures in personal blogs or books.

The most important key in all this experience is information. The more you know, the better it will be for you.