January 30, 2017
(12:25 p.m. EST) -- Because President Trump's executive order on travel affecting immigrants extends to ports as well as airports, cruise passengers might find themselves caught up in some of the consequences.
The Miami Herald reported an Iranian chemical engineer returning on Allure of Seas from Mexico to Port Everglades was detained by U.S. Customs officials for several hours Sunday. Florida TV station WFTV also reported customs officials detained seven people, including a Jewish refugee from Syria who has resided in the country for 20 years and her three children, who are U.S. citizens.
The order, which came out Friday, bars refugees from entering the country for 120 days and from Syria indefinitely. It also blocked travelers from seven countries -- Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- from visiting the country for 90 days. Originally, it was unclear whether or not the order barred green card holders, who are in the U.S. legally, from returning to the country (all lawful permanent residents are required to carry a valid green card on cruises that begin and end in the U.S.) Reports of students, professors, families and other professionals being detained -- or not allowed to board flights at all -- were broadcast internationally.
After massive protests at U.S. airports and blockages from courts, the White House has amended the policy; the Department of Homeland Security released an order Sunday declaring legal residents exempt from the order, according to the New York Times.
Yet many people in the U.S. with green cards from all countries, not just those outlined in the order, are questioning its implications. On the Cruise Critic forums, member rajju077, who holds a green card and is not from one of the countries singled out, said she canceled a cruise today, as she was advised not to travel outside the U.S. unless it was an emergency.
Cruise Critic has asked cruise lines for their policies and what, if any, aid or reimbursement will be given to passengers who need to adjust their plans because of the order. Responses are below.
Statements from Cruise Lines
Cruise Line International Association (CLIA): "We understand that this week’s Executive Order on U.S. immigration policy is in effect for 90-days. As with many sectors of the U.S. travel industry, we are seeking clarity on the scope, precise meaning, and practical implications of the Executive Order on cruise passengers who sail to or from the U.S."
“As always, the goal of cruise lines is to provide an exceptional holiday experience that exceeds the expectations of all guests. CLIA member cruise lines are working closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other authorities to obtain clarity on the Executive Order so that appropriate steps can be taken to accommodate the needs of all passengers.”
Royal Caribbean: "Our records indicate only a minimal number of our guests are citizens of the countries affected by the executive order and its apparent requirements. We are reaching out to those guests individually to discuss their options."
Carnival Corporation & plc (10 cruise lines): "I am checking in further with each of our brands, but I don't believe we saw any impact over the weekend. We don't foresee any real impact going forward based in the latest update."
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings: "Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises are reviewing the recent executive order on immigration and will continue to work with the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, as well as local and regional authorities, in order to comply with all governmental policies. At this time, there has been no impact to our guests and crew.
We encourage all of our guests to review visa and travel documentation requirements with the State Department prior to travel to ensure that they comply fully. In the event that a guest, who is affected by the executive order, is scheduled to sail and wishes to cancel, we will allow them to do so without penalty.
With much unknown, all cruise line passengers traveling might want to take the following precautions:
- Allow extra time at airports and don't make tight connections. Protests are ongoing.
- If you need to move your flight up, call the airline as they might be able to help you.
- If you are overseas, Airbnb has offered free housing to people stranded by the executive order.
- It's impossible to predict whether you will be delayed, so ultimately, the decision on whether you should travel is a personal one.
- If you are detained at Customs, the ACLU and other nonprofit groups are offering legal assistance. The organizations recommend not surrendering your green card; travelers should ask for legal representation immediately.
- If you feel you can't travel because of the order, contact your cruise line as soon as possible.
- If you have a cruise coming up and have questions on whether the current executive order applies to you, call your cruise line for clarification.
--By Chris Gray Faust, Senior Editor