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HERNANDO AND CITRUS COUNTY
THE JOYS OF CRUISING
Cruisers must learn passport/visa requirements for foreign travel
By Margaret Hammond
Hopefully, I have convinced you that cruising a great way to travel. Now that you are looking for that special destination, there’s the question of needing a passport or possibly a visa. All American citizens can travel by air or sea within the USA, including Hawaii and Alaska, using their driver’s license as identification. Caribbean cruises have a different set of rules, and all cruises to the Mediterranean require a passport. Travelers visiting Australia also need a visa for travel. Only a few countries ask for a visa these days, and the one for Australia can be obtained via the Internet for about $20 with your credit card. Some countries require you to mail your passport to their embassy, which isn’t something I want to do. There are so many places to go, and so few with this requirement. India wants you to send the actual passport if your cruise docks in Mumbai, but for other cities in the same country, you can get an electronic visa. It is a strange way of doing things, but enough to make me reconsider another visit there. Some countries will issue one visa that covers all of the passengers aboard a cruise ship for the particular day you are in their country. When you dock in St. Petersburg, in Russia, this is usually the case. Both Oman and Jordan issue a ship’s visa for your port day, so you do not need to get an individual visa before sailing from the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal to these areas.
For Caribbean cruises that stop at foreign ports, you do not need a passport, but you are required to have more identification than your driver’s license. Passengers need a U.S. state-issued original or certified copy of their birth certificate, and women with a different last name must also present a copy of their marriage license (or divorce papers) to verify the difference in last names. This same sort of identification is needed for Alaskan cruises that have stops in Canada before returning to the USA. You will be refused passage at the pier if you have not brought the required papers when boarding.
Now is a fine time to make reservations if you are planning to cruise to Alaska in 2018. At the moment, there are many good offers on line for several different cruise lines. Prices are usually lower at the beginning and end of the summer season when it is cooler. Mid summer finds more families with school age children on board. It is a wonderful time to do a grandparents’ trip with one or more of your grandkids. Alaskan cruises can begin and end in Seattle, or begin in Seattle and end in Vancouver. They also offer “cruise tours” that include time on board a ship and a few days spent in hotels, with travel by train or bus. Most of these are 10 days or longer, while basic cruises are usually seven days in length.
All cruises are booking far in advance for special itineraries around the world. Dates more than a year ahead are quite common, and even some booking two years down the line. Not long ago, I found one on Celebrity, from Dubai up through the Suez Canal to Rome, which sails in March 2019. The ship is almost fully booked at this time, and is a really good price for that itinerary. When you find it, grab it! No payments are due on this one until Feb. 2019, and you can cancel without penalty up until that date.
If you decide to apply for a passport, you can get detailed information and the needed forms at the Clerk of Court office at the government centers, in Brooksville, or on Forrest Oaks Drive, in Spring Hill. A passport good for 10 years costs $110 for an adult. You will need a photo with the completed form and your payment check. Passport photos of the correct size can be taken at any drug store, or at the AAA office, if you are a member. Once you have your passport, it is the only form of identification needed for most of the places you cruise.
Here I am, at 88 years old, and just got my new passport good until 2027. Hopefully, I will last as long as the passport and don’t expire prior to that date.