Can I cruise to US from Sydney?

The restrictions in place on travelling to the United States since Donald Trump became president are causing many would-be travellers to the country to wonder if they will be admitted. Cruise-goer and artist Charles asks if he will be able to disembark with his easel at an American port.

Q. Charles
I really look forward to catching my first impressions on canvas whenever I visit a new city. My bucket list this year includes going on a trans-Pacific cruise to the US, but are there restrictions on such voyages with the tighter border controls now in place there? I’ve heard that Aussie passengers are not allowed to sail with certain shipping lines. Plus, it seems to me that US cruises tend to depart from Brisbane rather than my hometown, Sydney. How can I avoid having to travel to Queensland to set out on a US cruise?

A. Pack your paintbrushes, Charles, you will be allowed to step off your cruise liner in the US. However, take care which company you book through. It was reported a few years ago that some Australians looking to save money were caught short when they booked their cruises on American online travel sites. They found that shipping lines reserved the right to deny boarding at check-in if travellers who booked with a US agent were not American residents – the rationale being that the sites offer cut-rate fares only to US citizens. Other nationalities are expected to pay full price.

Australian website Clean Cruising is one platform that reliably features a number of voyages out of Sydney towards the ‘Land of the Free’, docking at several tropical Pacific locations along the way.

The ships do not sail all year around, limiting their departures to Australia’s late summer and early autumn. In the trade, this is called ‘repositioning’ the vessels at the end of the domestic US cruising season. You can choose from:

  • Holland America Line’s Amsterdam sails to Los Angeles and its Noordam sails to Honolulu
  • Oceania Cruises’ Regatta sails to San Diego
  • Carnival Cruises’ Carnival Legend sails to Honolulu
  • Princess Cruises’ Golden Princess sails to Los Angeles and its Ruby Princess docks there, too, before making its way northwards to San Francisco and Astoria, in Oregon, and on to Canada.

If a Hawaiian holiday is your thing, you will find many more cruise liners that will transport you to Honolulu in March and April each year.

There are other less well-known liners that sail straight to San Francisco, but check with your booking agent before you commit, in case they have exclusions. For more tips on overseas ocean liner holidays, check out Cruise Lines International Association’s Australian website.

If you have sailed to the US recently from Sydney, which cruise liner did you travel on and what was your American destination?

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Fly free to cruise Asia
Savings for solo cruisers
Europe river cruising must-knows

Written by Olga Galacho


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