Getting VISA’s without being ripped off

Visas and passports can be a minefield. There are so many companies out there just trying to take your money. Always check visa requirements by countries, and then an application for visa requirements.

Even a TRANSIT within a country can require a visa. A transit from ship to airport or the other way round is almost always an entry into that country, if only for a few hours. Check what you need either with the cruise company or holiday company and as well look at the government site. The proper government site. There will be many sites with names that imply they are government sites, but they are not.

  • The first port of call is your cruise/travel operator who will tell you which visas you need.
  • The second port of call is the UK government web site, travel advice. Here is where they give all kinds of advice including weather seasons.
  • Always fill in all forms clearly and give time for this to happen.
  • The UK passport office often has a delay, so if you need a passport and visas start early.
  • Visas can make world cruises expensive.



Note you now need a travel ETA even to pass through Canada, and you can apply online BUT, even when you get an email saying success and giving you a number it might be a fail and stopped at the airport gate. There is huge confusion with this system. Is it worth it Canada, just for a few dollars? Travellers beware.

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USA entry requires an ESTA form as well as your passport. This includes transit. So if you are flying to Canaveral or Key West to join a Cruise Ship, for example, you will need an Esta to enter the USA. And time!

There are many sites online pretending to be the US Government, we suggest you find the actual Government department and apply directly to them. Other Visa centres can be hard. Chinese you need to book an appointment, as with the service for India. Make sure you are using the government-approved sites by going to the government websites first and seeing their advice, There are many companies that are not real and steal money. We will do a page on Visas next year but that is a long job. Good Idea though. The UK Government often offer advice and it is worth looking there.

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Do not try to get into India without a proper Indian Visa, this includes leaving or joining a ship at say Mumbai or getting off at any port. Your Cruise Card does not do it for the Indians. They will put you under arrest and send you home, no question, no remorse. I tried to re-enter Chennai with a single visa. The re-entry was a second visa requirement I did not have. I was arrested and flown home, using my return fare to do so. In Dubai on the plane change over I could not sit in the airport lounge but the centre for those being deported.

Medical holidays are increasing as India has some of the best medical care in the world. In Chennai, they are one of the few places performing heart surgery as keyhole surgery. However, because the trade and movement there to India is significant,  India is under pressure not to take medical tourists. If you write medical or dental treatment on your visa it might be refused. I had 4 tooth implants done in India plus a three week holiday, all first-class with a zircon car and driver and it was all cheaper than any UK dentist I could find. The dentist also guaranteed his work and when I flew back for a check, he paid the flight. My driver had the week before been driving an American man who had been over there for triple heart by-pass surgery.

India has so many answers to a web search for a visa, many are problematical. Check with the government of India and who their official contract is with. The whole thing can be done online direct with the government. Services of e-Tourist Visa involves a completely online application for which no facilitation is required by any intermediary/agents etc. It is advised not to believe or fall into the trap of any such unscrupulous elements. For any clarification of doubt may contact to [email protected]



China requires a visa, there are agents that will do this. You need as always to fill the forms in properly and make an appointment. Do not turn up an office expecting to be seen, however good your story! There are UK offices in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. This SITE has a step by step guide.


If you are cruising to St. Petersburg it is possible you will not need a Visa. Entry can normally be made with your passport and the receipt of your booked tour or excursion and the tour people are liable for you while you are there. This does make the tours where they leave you ‘on your own’ a little odd, but you have a slip of paper with some Russian writing and a phone number if you get in trouble.

To enter Russia you’ll need a visa before travel – make sure you apply for the correct type and duration of the visa. Apply for your visa well in advance. Russian diplomatic missions and the visa application centres in London and Edinburgh will collect biometric data (scanned fingerprints) from visa applicants of 12 years old and above. For information see the  Russian Embassy website and the website of VFS Global who manage Russian visa applications on behalf of the Embassy. Beware of pick-pockets in St Petersburg and other areas in Russia.

See our extensive list of films on tours in Russia and the Baltics


You must have a visa, but one can be obtained on-line. eVisitor visa direct from the Department of Immigration & Border Protection. There is no personal visa application charge or service fee for this, but there may be a surcharge if your travel agent does it.


Do not expect Visas to be straightforward for children. Child trafficking is so huge many countries have very tight demands. An ID may not be enough. Passports are often demanded for children. South Africa demands to see the original child’s birth certificate, India requires the parent’s written permission. But check, these rules change.

If you are travelling with a child and are not their direct biological parents read carefully about the requirements. Do not expect grandparents to get visas without a parent’s written permission or other. Check.