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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pirating the Caribbean - Visas on the high seas

My wife and I had planned to honeymoon in the Caribbean, but had some rather funny visa problems ( see old post ). So we ended up going to Hawaii instead.

Now we plan to pirate the Caribbean sea once again. We have signed up for a cruise on Celebrity Solstice, departing Puerto Rico (USA) and returning to Puerto Rico. The table below lists destinations the ship is visiting, and the visa situation.

DestinationVisa on CruiseVisa OtherwiseMotivation to go
Puerto Rico (USA)Need a valid US visa to enter Puerto Rico. The cruise starts from here, and we arrive here by air.Valid US visa neededOld San Juan
St. Thomas, US Virgin IslandsValid US visa needed. The cruise company has advised us that we require a US visa for the US Virgin Islands, despite going there for 1 day on a cruise.Valid US Visa NeededTrunk Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands
Sint Maarten / Saint MartinCruise Ship passengers do not require a visa for stays of less than 48 hours.The Dutch embassy in London (and I assume other cities around the world) issues visas to Sint Maarten. Not sure if the French Embassy issues visas for Saint Martin. FYI, the island is shared by Netherlands and France.Phillipsburg Harbour, St. Maarten
AntiguaCruise Ship Passengers do not require a visa to Antigua & BarbudaTourist visa required by Indian passport holders. There is no Antiguan embassy in India. However, their High Commission in London will accept applications from Indian nationals.Boat in Antigua
St. LuciaCruise Ship Passengers do not require a visa to St. LuciaI have written to the High Commission to find out. I have read somewhere that Commonwealth citizens do not require a visaThe Pitons, St. Lucia
BarbadosCruise Ship Passengers do not require a visa to BarbadosTourist visa required by Indian passport holders. There is no Barbados embassy in India. However, their High Commission in London will accept applications from Indian nationals.Thunderclouds

Hope this helps you plan your travels to the region!

Update:
I am just finishing up this trip. I had no trouble at all with visas. My US B1/B2 visa was perfectly valid for Puerto Rico (this was my 3rd entry to the USA on this visa). I have had no trouble using the B1/B2 visa for business and tourism. No other country on this trip demanded a visa (or even a passport).

Sources:
St. Maarten: http://www.dutchembassyuk.org/consular/index.php?i=538
Antigua & Barbuda: http://www.antigua-barbuda.org/Agtip01.htm
St. Lucia: http://www.stlucia.gov.lc/faq/do_i_need_a_visa_to_enter_saint_lucia.htm#Visa_Fees_And_Exemptions

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great! I'm preparing to take the very same trip this November with my partner and wanted to be sure about visas for the islands. I'm Canadian and my partner is Filipino and a permanent resident in Canada, with a US visa. I appreciate your links to the different websites as some of the phone numbers I had originally found online were not helpful. Glad to hear you enjoyed your cruise!

villdre said...

I am glad my post was useful. Message me on twitter if you have any questions: @villdre. Enjoy your cruise!

Anonymous said...

My aunt and uncle hold a valid Indian Passport with a valid tourist US visa. We are planning on a Caribbean cruise in June 2012. The cruise will stop at Bahamas, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. What visas will they need for these destination ports?

villdre said...

They will not need a visa for St. Thomas (part of USA) and St. Maarten. I read somewhere that Bahamas requires Indians to get a visa, even if coming off a cruise. I suggest you check with your local Bahamas consulate.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I have Valid US VISA b1/b2.
i am taking the cruise from FL to San Juan,Puertorico,St. Thomas and Martins and St.Kitts.
WIll i need any other Visa..Please let me know..
I have the Valid Indian Passport and i have mutiple entry

villdre said...

If you have a US visa, you can visit Puerto Rico, as it is part of the USA. Same for St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands).

If you are coming off a cruise ship, you don't need a visa for St. Martin.

I am not sure about St. Kitts - please check with their embassy.

Anonymous said...

I'm taking the trip departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Both me and my wife are on valid H1B visas in US, and know that visiting the Puerto Rico and St. Thomas ports wouldn't be an issue. The only doubt is there for the St. Maarten port ... the dutch embassy site says that for cruise passengers they don't require a visa, the point where I'm getting a doubt is that the other half of the island is St. Martin which is a French controlled territory and the French website doesn't specifically mention anything for say that cruise passengers ... they say that Indian passport holders do require a visa to visit St. Martin ... can that be an issue even though our cruise ship goes ot the Dutch side?

villdre said...

St. Maarten & St. Martin (Dutch and French side) do not require visas from Cruise Ship passengers. So, go without fear.

I did not come across any border-controls or immigration officers in Charlotte Amalie, Philipsburg or anywhere else on the cruise (Barbados, Antigua, St. Lucia)except for Puerto Rico airport (where we went through normal USA immigration and customs checks).

There are no border controls between the Dutch and French sides of St. Martin (just a sign post marking entry into France). No issue at all in travelling without a visa. The cruise ship company had also confirmed this for us, before departing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks villdre for the clarification. Really helps!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have a B2 (tourist visa), will visit Florida and then Grand Bahamas (freeport) for 4 days. Is the B2 visa valid to enter Bahamas? I'm going by plane not on cruise ship. Thanks in advance for your help.

- Mary

villdre said...

Mary - that would probably depend on your nationality. Indian Citizens do require separate visas for the Bahamas.

http://www.bahamashclondon.net/page.php?page=8#six

travelerslounge said...

Thank you for your useful info!

Ganesh S said...

Thanks...great informaton, am planning a cruise trip around dec this year or Jan next year

Anonymous said...

Hi, and thank you so much for this. My husband and I are U.S. citizens, but his family is going on a cruise with us in 2 months. His brother and wife are Australian citizens, and his mom and sister are Indian citizens with Indian passports and 10 year multiple entry US Visas. We will be cruising out of Puerto Rico, stopping at the following ports: St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten. If I am understanding you correctly, we should have no issues with needing visas? The only ones I am not sure about are Barbados and St. Maarten for the Indian citizens. Thanks in advance.

Vipul Swarup said...

Hello - I did almost the same cruise, with my Indian passport and US visa. Had no issues at all. No one checked my passport anywhere except at Puerto Rico (both airport and sea port). Barbados, St Maarten, St Lucia, Antigua were no problem. These countries don't check passports/visas if you are there for less than 1 day, and arriving & departing on a cruise ship. Sorry - I don't know about St. Kitts.

Guru said...

Hi vipul
Then for all ur inputs or so many of us...really appreciated.
I am planning a trip to Virgin Islands specifically st. Thomas island end if this month (dec 2012) till first week of January 2013. I am on a valid h1 b visa approved but not stamped on the passport. My wife is on j visa but not stamped on passport either. We both have valid drivers licenses. Can we travel with out drivers licenses and passports and other documents without any hesitation. I understand you said we can in other answers but wanted to be doubly sure abt our situation.
Thanks in advance
Guru

insertindian said...

Guru - glad you have found my posts useful. I would advise taking all your documents with you. But USVI is part of the USA, and I'd be very surprised if there are any immigration checks at the airports (assuming that you are flying from a US airport). No one checked our passports when we went there by ship. Having said this - you probably should check with the right authorities.

Anonymous said...

hi my dad with an Indian Passport and 10 year multiple entry US visa is visiting US. During his stay he would like to visit st maarten for a short stay of 7 days to visit his cousins. does he need a visa ? or will they allow him to visit? He is being accompanied by my brother who has a US passport and he does not need a visa to visit St Maarten?

insertindian said...

It would be best for you to speak with your local Dutch or French embassy (the Island of St. Maarten is shared by both nations). My understanding is that a Visa is required, unless the visitor is coming on a cruise for a maximum of 48 hours.

Vipul Swarup said...

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