This is not a sponsored post. I have not been paid to write it. It does, however, contain affiliate links to iVisa. What that means is that I will be paid a small commission if you use the service to apply for visas. As with everything on this FirstRead.Me, I fully vetted iVisa and am making my recommendation for using them only after extensive research.
Last year I wrote a pair of articles about visas for cruisers for Cruise Critic. They may have been the most complicated stories I have ever researched. The sad thing is that most likely the minute the articles were published, at least some of the information became obsolete. Why?
Visa regulations change
Even if you’ve visited a country recently, you cannot assume that the visa process remains the same. Countries that never required visas before now suddenly demand them. Countries are continuously changing not only their visa requirements but the costs, the delivery methods, what is needed to get one—even whether or not you need photos in addition to your passport photo.
The search for visa information left me feeling insecure
I spend a LOT of time researching stories online and I’ve got to tell you that working on those two visa stories left me feeling lost and insecure. Here are the problems I encountered:
- It’s hard to tell if the websites you find during your searches are legitimate government sites, paid re-sellers or worse, scammers.
- You have to dig deep on many government sites to find the type of visa you need as a short-term visitor.
- Cruises stopping at multiple countries make the process excruciatingly time-consuming.
- I like knowing what the processing time is, but that information is almost completely lacking on most foreign embassy sites.
- I want access to information before I begin the application process.
- I would be terrified to put my credit card information on a site I’m not even sure is real.
Won’t the cruise line take care of my visas?
The number one thing many cruisers get wrong is thinking that they don’t have to worry about getting visas. That is true for SOME countries, but if your cruise takes you beyond European Union countries, the Caribbean, plus a handful of others, American citizens often need visas in addition to their passports and in very few instances does the cruise line handle the process for you.
I finally found a better way
It has taken an entire year but I have finally found a better way to both determine if you need visas for your cruise and apply for the ones you need. iVisa is a safe and secure site loaded with information about any country you are likely to visit by cruise ship (as well as hundreds you may visit on non-cruise travel). You simply tell them where you are from and what country you plan to visit and you instantly have all the knowledge you could want and an easy way to apply.
Even the FAQ’s are well-organized
Have a dozen questions about the visa process for travel to Egypt? No problem. iVisa’s FAQ’s specific to Egypt include answers to not twelve, but sixteen questions! And they are not written in governmental legalese. The same is true for every country you are likely to want to visit.
The costs are spelled out
During my research, I discovered that not only was it difficult to find the cost of the various types of visas a country offered but often the government sites themselves swapped me to third-party sellers for the application process, many with hidden fees. I frequently found myself at a loss to know how much a visa was actually going to cost for any given cruise destination. iVisa clearly spells out what the cost of the visa is and what their service fee is.
iVisa won me over
You know what a skeptic I can be, especially when it comes to paying extra for a travel service. I’m definitely a do-it-myselfer when it comes to travel planning— and not inclined to pay a service fee when I can do something myself and avoid the fee or save a few dollars. But like everything you will find on FirstRead.Me, I feel it’s my job to tell you the #TravelTruth.
The truth of it is, getting your cruise visas without the assistance of professionals is a headache you should avoid.
Wander around iVisa’s website a bit and see if you don’t feel safe, secure, and better informed than when you arrived, better yet, do some cruise dreaming and punch in a few countries in the tool below to see how easy it will be to apply for the countries you long to visit by cruise ship!
Have you struggled with cruise visas in the past?