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Commencing your cruise in China, you do not need an expensive visa if certain conditions apply. My wife and I have recently returned (12-11-17) from a two week cruise in the Far East. We joined the ship (Holland Americas cruise ship VOLENDAM) in Shanghai China. Prior to the cruise I was informed by my external cruise agent’s documentation that a visa was required for entry into China. I researched the visa process and discovered that the Chinese embassies in the UK, located in Manchester and London utilise external agencies to process and issue access visas for China. I accessed online the SHANGHAI GENERAL STATION OF IMMIGRATION INSPECTION. The document listed several visa exemption possibilities depending upon your travel schedule. There are several visa agencies online and be aware, the charges vary considerably from £175.00 to £250.00 per person, and the process is not straight forward. Having explored various cruise advice pages on the web, it was intimated that there is a facility for Chinese visa exemption depending upon how many days you would be in China and where your cruise schedule was destined. I contacted my cruise agent and they were no help at all, stating that it was the passenger’s responsibility to sort it all out and they the agent would not provide any guidance apart from a contact number for CIBIT Visa processing agents (who just happen to be the most expensive visa processing company). E-mailed the British Embassy in Shanghai, yes, thank-you for your e-mail, but we don’t answer any questions concerned with visas, (so I wonder what they do, do over there.) Next, I contacted Holland and America, not a lot of help or enthusiasm there, same story they were not really interested, but they did have a visa specialist in America who may be able to answer my question, “do I need a visa for entry to China when I will only be in china for a short duration before sailing on to Japan, within 48 hours?” Well thank you, H&M, could you contact your specialist visa person and get back to me, yes, they didn’t. After 3 phone calls to H&M, three different advisers, eventually they decided that for this cruise as we were only in China for 30 hours and were going to a third party country (Japan) we did not need a visa. So, 7 days before we go, a letter arrives from Holland America via my cruise agent informing us that a visa is required for China. Grrr, frustration, once again contacted H&M, who were at this point not sure don’t think you need a visa, but here is a number for the visa agency we recommend so I could check with them, (just happened to also be the most expensive visa agent.) Success, rang the visa agent, informed them of my itinery travel plans, and they assured me a visa was not required. So, feeling 90% sure we did not require a visa, we set off to Manchester airport, at check-in they told us we needed a China entry visa, we said no we didn’t, they checked and verified we did not need one, the same situation in Amsterdam initially refused check in without a visa, Amsterdam checked and verified we did not require a visa. When we arrived at Shanghai airport, there was a special passport checking area for the issue of visa exemptions. Passport control checked our travel itinery cruise documentation and issued permits, process took approximately 20 minutes. Be very, very careful if you need a taxi at the airport, there are numerous taxis touts at the airport entrance that are not officially, registered taxis. We agreed a price for the 20 mile drive to the cruise terminal. I am sure that he was a racing car and dodgems driver in his spare time, horrendous journey to the cruise port and then he asked for more money, holding our luggage to ransom in the boot of his taxi and would not unload it until we paid double the fare. We conversed with many UK Passengers over the next 14 days, many repeated the same visa verification nightmare, and in every case they had purchased very expensive China access visas, when they did not need them, because no one could or would give them positive visa requirements information. And yes this is a long story, but if it’s saved you £500.00 it’s been worth reading. And, so to the cruise ship itself, overall, average in every aspect. There were plenty of sitting/relaxing areas, good, as most cruise ships appear to have their relaxing areas replaced with specialist premium cost dining. Cabin was cramped due to excessive furniture. The dining experience, average in choice of menu and food quality and quantity. Standard cruise line overpriced drinks. The entertainment 50% outstanding (ships singers and dancers) the rest was dire with the exception of an outstanding guest violinist. The service was outstanding in every aspect. Ports of call, all city type, hence the overpowering traffic pollution. Interesting experience and lots to see and do. Shore excursions, they were probably the most expensive that I have ever come across, on any of the previous 14 cruises that we have experienced, hence, we did our own thing. There were very few children on the cruise. Would I go again, probably not, we enjoyed the experience and observing the different cultures, but in some respects it was all much of the same. The cruise line does need to offer promotional inducements, I doubt that we will be sailing with Holland America in the future. AND TO ALL YOU CRUISE COMPANIES AND AGENTS YOU DISAPPOINT ME, I EXPECT BETTER SERVICE, VERY EXPEDIENTLY YOU TAKE OUR MONEY, AND ARE CLEARLY NOT INTERESTED IN OUR WELFARE.

China visa nightmare, advice, visa not always required

Volendam Cruise Review by jacksoc6

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2017
  • Destination: Asia
  • Cabin Type: Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Commencing your cruise in China, you do not need an expensive visa if certain conditions apply.

My wife and I have recently returned (12-11-17) from a two week cruise in the Far East.

We joined the ship (Holland Americas cruise ship VOLENDAM) in Shanghai China.

Prior to the cruise I was informed by my external cruise agent’s documentation that a visa was required for entry into China.

I researched the visa process and discovered that the Chinese embassies in the UK, located in Manchester and London utilise external agencies to process and issue access visas for China.

I accessed online the SHANGHAI GENERAL STATION OF IMMIGRATION INSPECTION. The document listed several visa exemption possibilities depending upon your travel schedule.

There are several visa agencies online and be aware, the charges vary considerably from £175.00 to £250.00 per person, and the process is not straight forward.

Having explored various cruise advice pages on the web, it was intimated that there is a facility for Chinese visa exemption depending upon how many days you would be in China and where your cruise schedule was destined.

I contacted my cruise agent and they were no help at all, stating that it was the passenger’s responsibility to sort it all out and they the agent would not provide any guidance apart from a contact number for CIBIT Visa processing agents (who just happen to be the most expensive visa processing company).

E-mailed the British Embassy in Shanghai, yes, thank-you for your e-mail, but we don’t answer any questions concerned with visas, (so I wonder what they do, do over there.)

Next, I contacted Holland and America, not a lot of help or enthusiasm there, same story they were not really interested, but they did have a visa specialist in America who may be able to answer my question, “do I need a visa for entry to China when I will only be in china for a short duration before sailing on to Japan, within 48 hours?”

Well thank you, H&M, could you contact your specialist visa person and get back to me, yes, they didn’t.

After 3 phone calls to H&M, three different advisers, eventually they decided that for this cruise as we were only in China for 30 hours and were going to a third party country (Japan) we did not need a visa.

So, 7 days before we go, a letter arrives from Holland America via my cruise agent informing us that a visa is required for China.

Grrr, frustration, once again contacted H&M, who were at this point not sure don’t think you need a visa, but here is a number for the visa agency we recommend so I could check with them, (just happened to also be the most expensive visa agent.)

Success, rang the visa agent, informed them of my itinery travel plans, and they assured me a visa was not required.

So, feeling 90% sure we did not require a visa, we set off to Manchester airport, at check-in they told us we needed a China entry visa, we said no we didn’t, they checked and verified we did not need one, the same situation in Amsterdam initially refused check in without a visa, Amsterdam checked and verified we did not require a visa.

When we arrived at Shanghai airport, there was a special passport checking area for the issue of visa exemptions. Passport control checked our travel itinery cruise documentation and issued permits, process took approximately 20 minutes.

Be very, very careful if you need a taxi at the airport, there are numerous taxis touts at the airport entrance that are not officially, registered taxis. We agreed a price for the 20 mile drive to the cruise terminal. I am sure that he was a racing car and dodgems driver in his spare time, horrendous journey to the cruise port and then he asked for more money, holding our luggage to ransom in the boot of his taxi and would not unload it until we paid double the fare.

We conversed with many UK Passengers over the next 14 days, many repeated the same visa verification nightmare, and in every case they had purchased very expensive China access visas, when they did not need them, because no one could or would give them positive visa requirements information.

And yes this is a long story, but if it’s saved you £500.00 it’s been worth reading.

And, so to the cruise ship itself, overall, average in every aspect. There were plenty of sitting/relaxing areas, good, as most cruise ships appear to have their relaxing areas replaced with specialist premium cost dining. Cabin was cramped due to excessive furniture. The dining experience, average in choice of menu and food quality and quantity. Standard cruise line overpriced drinks. The entertainment 50% outstanding (ships singers and dancers) the rest was dire with the exception of an outstanding guest violinist.

The service was outstanding in every aspect.

Ports of call, all city type, hence the overpowering traffic pollution. Interesting experience and lots to see and do.

Shore excursions, they were probably the most expensive that I have ever come across, on any of the previous 14 cruises that we have experienced, hence, we did our own thing.

There were very few children on the cruise. Would I go again, probably not, we enjoyed the experience and observing the different cultures, but in some respects it was all much of the same. The cruise line does need to offer promotional inducements, I doubt that we will be sailing with Holland America in the future.

AND TO ALL YOU CRUISE COMPANIES AND AGENTS YOU DISAPPOINT ME, I EXPECT BETTER SERVICE, VERY EXPEDIENTLY YOU TAKE OUR MONEY, AND ARE CLEARLY NOT INTERESTED IN OUR WELFARE.
jacksoc6’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Cabin H
Too much furniture, addition of 2 seater settee resulted in cramped accommodation.
All a bit tired.
Not enough power sockets, one only
Navigation Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews