How the U.S. Government Shutdown Affects (or Doesn't) Cruise Passengers

October 2, 2013
(1:46 p.m. EDT) -- Day two of the limited U.S. government shutdown, and so far cruise passengers are mostly unaffected by the congressional deadlock. It's business as usual at airports and ports, and passport services are still operating. But passengers in ports with national parks as the main attraction are out of luck.

For instance, passengers on Norwegian Gem and Oceania's Regatta will not be able to visit Acadia National Park while in Bar Harbor, Maine, today as the park is closed to visitors. Acadia is the main attraction for any Bar Harbor port visit. Norwegian canceled its excursion offerings to Acadia and provided passengers other options. Other lines with Bar Harbor visits scheduled for the next few days include Holland America, Seabourn, Silverseas and Royal Caribbean.

Passengers with Boston port stops will also find their touring options limited as sites like the USS Constitution, Faneuil Hall Visitor Center and Bunker Bill Monument are closed.

Likewise, passengers on Hawaii itineraries will not be able to visit Pearl Harbor.

Travel Delays?
If the shutdown continues passengers might start to see slowdowns at airports and ports as more employees are furloughed or those who are covering for furloughed employees begin to burn out. Already, one-third of the Federal Aviation Administration's workforce has been furloughed, the Star-Ledger reports. FAA officials said the furloughs so far haven't affected daily flight operations or safety.

A spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, told The (Newark) Star-Ledger, staffing at airport security checkpoints won't be reduced.

At cruise ports, U.S. Customs and Border Control probably will be unaffected, as "they have been deemed law enforcement necessary or necessary for the safety of life and protection of property," the CPB states on its website. However when Cruise Critic reached out to the CPB for confirmation, we received this note: "Due to the lapse in appropriations and the emergency furlough, I am currently out of the office."

For cruise passengers in the process of getting a passport, the longer the shutdown continues the greater the chance the passport won't come. Currently, passport services are functioning as normal with processing times of up to four weeks for routine applications and two weeks for expedited service. For some people, though, actually picking up their passport could already be a problem as any passport agency located in a government building affected by the shutdown "may become unsupported," the Department of State wrote on its website.

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor