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Ahoy! Each year more and more Australians travel on cruise ships, the following information will ensure your next cruise holiday is smooth sailing.

Before you go

Make sure you have a valid passport whenever taking overseas holidays on the water. Many people don't realise that they need a passport to enter a foreign country's waters, regardless of whether they plan to disembark in that country.  Check the validity on your passport – many countries require at least six months validity from the date you leave that country.

You may also need to arrange visas. Check with your cruise operator or holiday provider well in advance of your planned departure date.

  • Read the travel advice for each destination.
  • Purchase the right travel insurance​ policy that includes suitable coverage for accidental injury, hospitalisation abroad, and medical evacuation at sea (the cost of medically evacuating a patient from a cruise ship by helicopter can easily reach $150,000).
  • Most cruise itineraries visit international destinations. Therefore it is recommended you research your destination and know the local laws of countries you will be stopping through. Be mindful that the laws on land (including drug laws) also apply at sea.
  • Don't be left all at sea - most cruises are cashless and require you to set up an account or leave your credit card as collateral. The ability to manage your account while on board is available 24 hours a day via the ship's reception desk.​

Staying safe on board 

  • Take responsibility for your personal safety on board. Participate in the safety drills and take the time to remember the evacuation points and procedures – often these will be posted on the back of your cabin door. Cruise lines are required to hold passenger safety briefing sessions prior to departure – all guests must attend.
  • In the event of an emergency, the crew is trained to respond effectively to ensure passenger safety. Follow all instructions from them.
  • Exercise is very important for both body and mind. Keep an active routine on board by making use of the gym, jogging track and pool. ​

Money and Valuables

  • Like in any other holiday accommodation, keep your valuables locked in the safe in your cabin when you're not around.
  • When on the ship and also while in port, keep your valuables close to your person and know where they are at all times.
  • If you see anything suspicious, make sure you report it to the crew.

Health at sea

  • See your GP for a general health check and vaccinations. Give your doctor the ship's itinerary as some ports may require you to have proof of vaccinations (i.e. yellow fever) to disembark.
  • Pack enough medication for the journey, your prescription and letter from your GP that explains why you have been prescribed the medication. Make sure your prescription medicines are labelled and keep a list of their generic names.
  • If you wear prescription glasses, pack a spare pair of glasses, just in case the first pair breaks.
  • Cruise ships are a closely confined environment. Remember to take appropriate personal hygiene measures to stop the possible spread of illnesses, .

Medicare and cruises

  • Medicare benefits are only payable to cruise passengers travelling between two Australian ports, with no stops outside Australia, and only if services are provided by an accredited Medicare provider.
  • Before you depart, contact your cruise operator to find out whether a Medicare-accredited doctor will be available. Some passengers have been charged large fees for medical services while travelling between Australian ports because a Medicare-accredited doctor has not been available.
  • Medicare benefits are not payable for journeys between an Australian port and a foreign port or between two foreign ports. This is why purchasing the right travel insurance is essential.​

Visa, entry requirements and shore visits  

  • Note that some ports of call will require an entry visa if you disembark from the ship independently (rather than participating in shore excursions organised by the cruise line). Check if your cruise line organises visas for those aboard – if not, apply for all necessary visas before leaving Australia.
  • Check your cruise ship's departure time before stepping ashore, as the ship will not wait for you if you come back late. Shore excursions offered by the cruise line will return you to the ship on time. Independent tour operators must be advised of your departure time.
  • In most cases whilst you are enjoying your shore side experience, your passport is held on board for local authorities to process accordingly. It is recommended make a copy of your passport before you leave and carry it with you while ashore in case of any emergencies. 
  • While onshore, make sure that you use reputable tour operators recommended by your cruise line or by a certified travel agent.
  • When going ashore at a new port, ask the staff on board about any parts of town that you should avoid, and remember to check the travel advice for the countries you are visiting.