When it comes to packing for a cruise, it’s easy to forget certain essential items. As it happens, some of the most frequently asked questions we receive here at Cruise Nation are those regarding documentation onboard.

It’s perfectly normal to have these concerns, which is why we have decided to compile all this information into one guide, so that you can have peace of mind that you have everything you need when heading to the airport or cruise terminal.

We’ve separated the information for flight and cruise documentation into two sections to make finding the information you need easier.



You must have a valid passport in order to board the cruise ship, so ensure yours is valid. In addition, it is no longer allowed for children to be included in their parent’s passports. Children’s passports are only valid for 5 years, so it’s a good idea to check their passports haven’t expired before you book. If you or any of your family doesn’t own a passport, make sure you apply for it at least 6 weeks in advance to avoid any mishaps or complications. If you need to apply for, renew or update a passport, you can do so via the GOV.UK website. Please note that adult passports need to have 6 months validity.

Travel Insurance

It’s strongly advisable to take out travel insurance for your holiday. This will cover any medical care you might need, lost or stolen belongings and also if you are in port and don’t make it back to the ship in time before it disembarks for its next port of call – the insurance will cover any hotel nights and/or flights you might need to catch the ship at the next stop in the itinerary. We recommend printing a copy of your travel insurance to bring with you and also storing the details of your travel insurance company and your policy number on your phone, so they are at hand if you need them. (Make sure it covers cruising

Booking Confirmation

After your booking is made, we’ll immediately email you your confirmation to check for any errors. This confirmation will include your flights, hotel and cruise details. In a separate email you will receive an e-ticketing letter advising completion of API for the cruise/flights. Once you receive this e-ticketing letter you can login and complete your API. Here at Cruise Nation if we do offer a service to complete your API for you. This service is £4.95 per person and telephone contact details to complete this service are on our documentation letters.

Online Check In

Online check in differs from airline to airline and likewise for cruise lines. Some will allow you to check in up to 30 days in advance whilst others can be just 24 hours in advance.

Boarding passes

Boarding passes will be issued nearer to departure date. Time frames depend on the cruise line/ airline; this can range from 30 days to 24 hours in advance. Nearer to the time of your holiday, we will send all documentation required for your holiday no later than 7-10 days prior to travel. We can post this documentation if necessary; the charge for this service is £4.95.

Personalise your cruise online (Pre Cruise Planner)

After we send you e-ticketing email for you cruise, there are many things you can book online directly via your Cruise Personaliser. This includes dinner reservations, excursions and drinks packages. If you have any special requirements such as dietary, mobility etc; please get in touch with our Customer Services team who will be able to help.

VISA’s and ESTA’s

For some countries, you will need a VISA or ESTA to visit – depending on your nationality. In particular, for holidaying in the US you will need an ESTA which you can apply for online. The fee is approx $10 and approval is almost immediate. You can print your ESTA as soon as it is approved. We recommend printing two copies just to be sure. To get an ESTA, apply here and to check and see if you need a VISA for any other countries check here. We recommend applying for VISA’s and ESTA’s as soon as possible in case your application is upheld for any reasons.


If you booked and paid for any excursions prior to your cruise, we’d suggest storing these details on your phone and printing copies to present to the excursion provider when you arrive at the location.

Important things to remember:

5 essential cruise documents to travel with:

When it comes to your cruise ship holiday, here at Cruise Nation, we know that preparation is key. By avoiding leaving things to the last minute and keeping on top of your documents, you can enjoy your cruise in a way that you deserve.

If you wish to speak to us about anything you have come across on this guide, or you have a general enquiry, feel free to get in touch. With a friendly and expert team of advisors at hand, we are more than happy to answer any of the questions you may have.

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