Cruise passengers and travel agents have complained that visa and passport rules cause complications, including not being able to sail.
I have twice met passengers who didn’t know which visas were necessary to visit certain ports. If the cruise line didn't work with the port to make an exception, debarkation would not have been allowed.
When complications arise, passengers generally get angry at the cruise line or whoever booked their cruise. Passengers have attempted to take legal action against the cruise line or agent to recoup the cost of a missed cruise or ports.
Cruise lines say they indicate that it is the passenger's responsibility to find out if they need a visa or passport for any of the ports of call. Cruise lines frequently say it would be very difficult to keep up with visitor requirements.
"Because Holland America Line is neither a governmental agency nor able to publish all up-to-date identification or immigration data related to each traveler’s specific situation, the information given is strictly advisory and is subject to change," HAL explained.
Carnival Cruise Lines said, "Due to the multitude of nationalities Carnival carries, and since the requirements change so often and without notice, it is the responsibility of the guest and the travel agency to find out what documentation is needed for travel."
Norwegian Cruise Line said that while it advises both travel agents and passengers on required documentation, the line encourages them to check with the State Department or with their local embassy or consulate.
Travel agents say they should convey passport and visa information to clients, but that ultimately it is not their responsibility.
"Agents aren't lawyers, accountants or customs agents," said Stewart Chiron of CruiseGuy.com. "They can provideadvice but are not authorities on related subjects. As each passenger's situation differs, [agents] aren't in a position to provide certain details."