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BeckyHall

Immigration clearance when sailing to the US

24 posts in this topic

If I was going on a cruise from the UK to the USA, would I have to clear US immigration after leaving the ship or does this happen onboard? If it happens when you disembark, how long does this take please?

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When I last travelled to the states on a trip the US Immigration came onboard to arrange this in the theatre area before we disembarked, I would presume little has changed as they wouldnt want you on land unless you have cleared their controls,  The other thing to remember is to make sure your ESTA is all up to date.

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 NO Cruise Chef - it is done ashore now and depending on how many gates the immigration personnel man will determine how long it takes.

They take your fingure prints and photgraph your eyes now and it all takes time

Charleston took up to 8 hours

New Orleans 20 minutes

New York about 30 minutes

 

A lot will also depend on the size of the ship - it is pot luck

BobTroll likes this

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On Aurora at New York about five years ago it took six hours. The immigration was done in the terminal building and numbered tickets were issued to leave the ship. Shortly after immigration commenced a NCL ship arrived alongside full of Americans and our rate of disembarkation reduced to a trickle as most of the immigration staff left to deal with the Americans.

Brian

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It's a shame that consideration couldn't be given to have immigration officials go on the ship and process people on board on the sea days prior to the first USA port. It makes a mockery of spending thousands of pounds on a cruise if you spend most of the time getting processed when on land.

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Years ago on Cunard (QE2) it was the norm for US immigration to fly over to the UK and sail back to the US specifically to process people on board prior to arrival. 

 

I have no idea when this ceased to be the norm or why as it was a system that seemed to work very well but there must be a good reason why it is no longer done. 

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 NO Cruise Chef - it is done ashore now and depending on how many gates the immigration personnel man will determine how long it takes.

They take your fingure prints and photgraph your eyes now and it all takes time

Charleston took up to 8 hours

New Orleans 20 minutes

New York about 30 minutes

 

A lot will also depend on the size of the ship - it is pot luck

In New Orleans this year it took a lot longer than 20 minutes. That was on the Oceana.

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Homeland Security has become stricter in recent years.  The time it takes to clear immigration depends on how many officers are assigned.  This varies by port, and by how many ships are docking that day as well as how happy the staff are at any given time. When they were at odds with the government a few years ago, every possible delaying tactic was used and wait times were hours long.  On a transatlantic cruise all the crew have to be cleared first then the passengers.  This applies to ships repositioning from Europe.  I don't know the situation with Cunard when the ships are going back and forth all year.

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Thanks June63 I stand corrected, it makes me laugh that you have to do all this when you either have had to arrange an ESTA or Full US visa, so you have already been checked upon and then have to repeat the process. I sometimes wonder if they want the tourism trade??

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Thanks June63 I stand corrected, it makes me laugh that you have to do all this when you either have had to arrange an ESTA or Full US visa, so you have already been checked upon and then have to repeat the process. I sometimes wonder if they want the tourism trade??

Especially when they ask "are you a terrorist". A friend of ours once said that you should never link American and Intelligence together in the same sentence

HookedonCruising likes this

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If you embark in a US port and then sail to another US port will you have to go through immigration again?

I believe it depends if you go out of American waters as very often happens in the Caribbean if there is a mix of US Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands so you might have cleared immigration in the US then visited Barbados ( as an example BVI ) then on to St Thomas so you are back in American waters and would be required to clear immigration again.

MG16 likes this

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Just returned from Arcadia's US and Canada Cruise out from and back to Southampton. We docked in New York about midday as scheduled and were out of the immigration hall by 2pm, despite having been warned the whole process could take up to 5 hours! We were assembled in various parts of the ship soon after arrival, then called to the immigration hall in waves, those on trips and we independents at the same time (we had expected the tours would have priority). Once in the hall we were through in less than 10 minutes. The officer took our ESTA without even looking at it, scanned the passport and photographed us. He even smiled!

 

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If you embark in a US port and then sail to another US port will you have to go through immigration again?

 

That depends upon where the ship is registered and whether it visits ports outside of the USA.  Most cruise ships are registered in non-US countries, such as Bermuda, Malta, Panama, or even in the UK.  If so, American regulations stipulate that for non-US registered ships, a voyage cannot remain entirely within US waters.  The itinerary must travel outside of the USA, so cruises from New York to New England will visit at least one Canadian port, even if the ship returns to New York.  Similarly, Alaskan itineraries will call in at Vancouver.  And of course, most Caribbean islands are independent nations.

 

If the ship has visited any non-US ports, every passenger must clear immigration upon the ship's return to the USA.  So if most of the passengers are non-US citizens, they might experience long delays.  However, if British and other non-US citizens are in the minority, they might not have to wait so long.

 

The worst problem affects Princess Cruises or Royal Caribbean voyages to the Caribbean.  Many of those cruises include two back-to-back sectors, which return to Fort Lauderdale or Miami after the first week.  Consequently, passengers must clear US immigration twice, even if they don't want to go ashore after the first sector.  That is one major advantage of sailing with P&O from Barbados, compared with Princess Cruises from Fort Lauderdale or Royal Caribbean from Miami (even if P&O is not your favourite cruise line)..

 

Incidentally, similar principles apply to arrivals by air.  Some years ago, Princess Cruises booked us on an American Airlines flight from London to JFK, New York.  Most of the other passengers on that flight were US citizens, so we experienced no queues at the desk for "alien" arrivals.  However, Princess Cruises also chartered an aircraft from the UK, to carry other passengers for the same cruise.  Most of those 300+ passengers held UK passports, and it took US immigration over 3 hours to clear everyone.  So sometimes, it might be better to fly with an American airline.

MG16 likes this

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Do what we do and boycott the USA. The Immigration staff are rude, abusive, timewasting and the most unwelcoming people you could wish to meet. We did back to back cruises last year and had to endure their behaviour 8 times and wasted hours. Never again! If you want to do the Caribbean go via one of the islands or choose a company that doesn't use the USA ports. It stopped us using Princess and we hold Elite loyalty status with them. Good luck! Rather you than us.

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Do what we do and boycott the USA. The Immigration staff are rude, abusive, timewasting and the most unwelcoming people you could wish to meet. We did back to back cruises last year and had to endure their behaviour 8 times and wasted hours. Never again! If you want to do the Caribbean go via one of the islands or choose a company that doesn't use the USA ports. It stopped us using Princess and we hold Elite loyalty status with them. Good luck! Rather you than us.

 

It also limits which Caribbean islands you visit.

 

I have to say the only rude immigration staff I have come across is in Miami and I would now avoid that port at all costs, at the end of the day they have a job to do and we may not like their paranoia but it's their country .. their rules mellow.png

Captain Kidd II likes this

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Do what we do and boycott the USA. The Immigration staff are rude, abusive, timewasting and the most unwelcoming people you could wish to meet. We did back to back cruises last year and had to endure their behaviour 8 times and wasted hours. Never again! If you want to do the Caribbean go via one of the islands or choose a company that doesn't use the USA ports. It stopped us using Princess and we hold Elite loyalty status with them. Good luck! Rather you than us.

Isn t this rather cutting off your nose to spite your face? Of course you are entitled to your opinion, but you are losing the opportunity to visit many interesting places and use excellent cruise lines. Obviously there are sometimes problems, but there are also good experiences. Miami is not my favourite, either the airport or cruise port, but if the cruise I wanted to take left from there I would grit my teeth and go there. Remember how many Americans have suffered from terrorist action and you can understand why they are stringent.

BTW in many visits to US (probably more than fifty over the years) I have never been asked if I was a terrorist.

*Dancing Queen* likes this

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We are not long back from a double TA USA customs require clearance within their immigration halls the British came on board. Things change all the time though with immigration as last time the USA came on board which was far easier. Don't forget your ESTA if you haven't already got it and go through the official USA government site cost approx £14 don't confuse other sites which charge a fortune.

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We are flying into America next year and I'm not looking forward to it 

.

The last time we went I was hauled into a separate small room as I failed my finger scanning.

 

This was because Arthritis has bent the finger slightly - I guess as it's bent even more I will be hauled in again!! 

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Isn t this rather cutting off your nose to spite your face? Of course you are entitled to your opinion, but you are losing the opportunity to visit many interesting places and use excellent cruise lines. Obviously there are sometimes problems, but there are also good experiences. Miami is not my favourite, either the airport or cruise port, but if the cruise I wanted to take left from there I would grit my teeth and go there. Remember how many Americans have suffered from terrorist action and you can understand why they are stringent.

BTW in many visits to US (probably more than fifty over the years) I have never been asked if I was a terrorist.

 

What about the question, "have you ever been arrested for an offense of moral turpitude?".

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What about the question, "have you ever been arrested for an offense of moral turpitude?".

Look up the advice before opening mouth. If the cap fits wear it.

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What about the question, "have you ever been arrested for an offense of moral turpitude?".

Never been asked that either. Maybe I just look honest!!!!

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