Planning a cruise? Don’t fall into the visa trap!

Cruises are a great way to check off a lot of destinations in one trip, but they can also be perilous in terms of documentation. A recent incident where a couple were forced to disembark their cruise liner halfway through their holiday highlights the importance of checking visa requirements before you leave! Do you know which popular cruise destinations require UK citizens to apply for a pre-travel visa? Read on to find out!

What We’ll Cover

  • Visas for cruises to Russia

  • Visas for cruises stopping in China

  • Cruise visa requirements for India

  • Viasa for cruises calling in Sri Lanka

cruise russia


Some travel companies will hold a visa for the ship itself, but not all will so it’s important to check first. If you are docking in St. Petersburg and going on an excursion organised by the cruise company, you will be able to take advantage of the ship’s collective visa.

Do be aware that you can pre-book excursions with Russian-based tour operators and still enjoy this perk, if the trips organised by the cruise company aren’t of interest to you. You must have your own personal visa if you intend to explore Russia independently, however. This must be obtained before you leave and can take a while, as you must provide biometric data at a visa centre, so ensure you’ve left yourself plenty of time.


cruise china


If you’re docking in Mainland China during your cruise, you may require a visa if you are stopping at more than one destination within China (not including Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan). This is one of the few countries which will require you to have a valid visa simply to dock in China, even if you don’t plan on disembarking the ship during your visit. If you are stopping at one port, you may be able to apply for the transit visa on arrival, dependant on your citizenship.

If your cruise will take you to several ports within Mainland China, remember that each of these stops will count as one entry into China. Therefore you will need to ensure your visa is double or multiple entry if there are several stops. China are very strict in the enforcement of their visa policy, so don’t take any chances.


cruise india


If you are visiting India, you will require a visa. This is required even if you don’t intend on disembarking the cruise ship. It’s important to note that the new eVisas introduced by the Indian Government only covers two entries into India and certain seaports (Cochin, Goa and Mangalore).

If you are making more than two stops or docking at a different port, it would be best to apply for the traditional full visa. The process for this visa type differs from the eVisas and is generally a slower process, therefore you must apply in plenty of time before your date of departure.


cruise sri lanka

Sri Lanka

There are two types of electronic travel visas available for Sri Lanka. One is classed as a transit visa which is short-term and limited in the amount of entries and duration, and the other is the full tourist eVisa.

As a cruise passenger, you may be able to request a transit visa on board in order to disembark for a short visit into Sri Lanka. This all depends on the tour company so it’s important to check what’s included in your package. A transit visa will usually cover you for two ports of call within Sri Lanka and day trips to the mainland only. If you are unsure, you can apply for the full eVisa which will cover all eventualities.

It’s always best to contact your cruise company when you’re booking your trip to make sure you don’t run into any issues. If any destinations require a visa, ask if they have one which will cover you or if you are required to apply for one individually. Remember, don’t assume that you will not need a visa just because you are planning on staying on board at that stop, because this is not always the case.

Ashraf Vachhiat
Ashraf Vachhiat

Ashraf is the Marketing Technologist at Vital Consular, which means he handles all the technicalities involved in bringing this blog to life! He also enjoys creating in-depth articles around current affairs which impact the travel and relocation industry. In his free time, Ashraf relishes travelling as much as possible, and is always looking for quirky spots to take some great photos.

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