Prison is a highly stressful environment. From the threat of assault to enclosed spaces, people have every reason to want to avoid it. It can, however, be impossible if convicted of a felony.
Felony offenses attract a penalty of over a year in prison. This prolonged incarceration naturally causes many to crave their freedom. Once released, one of the best ways to celebrate this liberation is a vacation.
Cruises have become a popular choice that takes guests to various ports of call. So you may be wondering, can a felon go on a cruise?
Before we answer this, let’s make the case for vacations. A holiday is a great way to relieve the stress of having been in prison. It allows you the freedom to enjoy the environment without feeling encumbered.
It also allows you to interact with strangers that do not know about your past. Many felons feel discriminated against when with people that know what they did. A vacation opens them up to new experiences with people that will treat them normally.
Traveling abroad or just across the border also means a chance to immerse yourself in a different culture. This can be very enjoyable. Other countries can also mean an opportunity to take up learning or make a business investment.
With most felons able to access passports, there is rarely a reason to avoid the chance to go on vacation.
Let’s know discuss why cruises make for a great option when planning your trip.
What Is a Cruise?
A cruise is a getaway on a ship. Cruise ships are luxury vessels that are designed to cater to the needs of passengers. They are tailored to offer a variety of amenities and facilities for enjoyment.
Also referred to as floating cities, they provide much the same conveniences you would enjoy at home. From Wi-Fi connections to restaurants, there are few creature comforts you would miss.
These vessels are as much a part of the vacation as the destined ports of call. Many will have a route they follow, with stops at various ports in several cities and countries. During stops, passengers have the opportunity to disembark and tour the area for sightseeing and shopping.
Cruises make for great vacations as there is a good mix of destinations along the way. Many package deals offer excellent value for money when compared to visiting the same destinations otherwise. You get to unpack just once in your cabin but get to visit many places.
These cruises can follow various paths, including Europe and the Caribbean. So whether you are hoping for sights of tropical paradise or glaciers, there are options.
This and the fun to be had onboard is hard to beat. Some of the popular activities include playing bridge, dance classes, yoga, and live music performances.
With everything from the itinerary to accommodation included in the package, there is nothing to plan. Many cruises are also family-friendly, meaning you can easily include others on the trip.
You might think that because you are on the high seas, it might be uncomfortable. In reality, the massive size of these vessels means that most can hardly tell they are on moving water. Also, they are equipped with stabilizing technology that reduces feelings of motion.
Do You Need a Passport and Visa?
This will mainly depend on the type of cruise. Closed-loop cruises begin and end at the same U.S. port. Open-loop cruises, however, have different start and ending ports.
With closed-loop cruises, U.S. nationals are not usually required to have a passport. This is when the cruise will take passengers on a trip around destinations like Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
In such cases, it is sufficient to just carry an acceptable proof of citizenship. This could be a government-issued birth certificate or photo ID like a driver’s license.
For open-loop cruises that tend to take longer routes around the world, passports are necessary. Many countries require this to disembark.
While many countries do not require U.S. passport holders to take a visa, some countries do. It may be required even before you depart on the cruise. That means applying for a visa from the country’s embassy in the U.S. beforehand.
Do consult with the cruise line when booking to find out if the ports of call will require a passport or visa.
Why Have a Passport Anyway?
We do however advise that you get a passport and travel with it no matter the case. Felons are as entitled to acquire a passport as any other U.S. citizen. Unless you committed treason, trafficked drugs, have unpaid federal debts, owe child support, or committed passport fraud.
Outside these offenses, you should not have a problem getting a passport. We recommend this because:
- If you miss the ship’s departure at a port of call, you may need to fly home
- Certain emergencies may force the cruise to terminate along the way, with passengers having to return differently
- Misconduct on the ship may force the cruise line to cause you to disembark
- Some ports of call may require a passport for entry
And if you were wondering, cruise lines do not carry out background checks. So technically, there is no hindrance to going on a closed-loop cruise from a U.S. port. At worst, you can simply opt to remain onboard fulltime.
Tips for Felons Going On Cruises
Confirm The Need For A Visa
Itineraries are usually provided when making inquiries and bookings. You can carry out an online search to confirm if you will need a passport or visa. You can also make inquiries with the cruise line.
If you encounter ports that may not grant you entry, plan ahead. Have activities that will keep you occupied as others disembark and tour. Take advantage of highly demanded attractions, like the spa, while there are fewer people about.
If you, however, can disembark, be sure to have studied the destinations. You will have limited hours to explore so know ahead of time what attractions you must visit.
Depending on the destinations you will visit, be sure to pack suitable attire. Consider the climate and culture. While a bikini may be great for a tropical island, it may be ill-advised in a conservative region.
Also, ensure you can dress up or down according to the activities you partake onboard. You may end up invited to the captain’s table and should dress well.
Do Not Double Tip
It is normal to want to tip, especially for good service. However, ships typically add on a 15% service charge on the bill. That is more than adequate so just pay your bill.
If still uncertain, you can always consult with the cruise line or travel agent. Many have a no-tipping policy as they already include this in billing to ensure crew members enjoy a fair wage.
Tour The Vessel
Even if it is a short trip, you do not want to spend it all doing the same thing. Try to take some time early on to explore the ship.
Ensure you identify the various attractions and restaurants. This way you can enjoy a varied experience each day. From discos to adult-only pools, there may be much fun to be had.
Indulge Without a Bulge
As you try our different cuisine and styles of dining, be sure not to overdo it. Buffets are particularly popular and easy to overeat when there is no limit.
Make a habit of taking long walks or visiting the gym or pool regularly. Even as you enjoy yourself, maintaining good health is vital. You do not want to return home well rested but fat as a pig.
Traveling internationally is possible as a felon. While it is up to the country you are visiting to approve or deny entry, you can still enjoy a cruise.
And barring certain offenses like drug smuggling and human trafficking, most countries do grant entry Especially if it is just a short visit.
Do however remember that there may be restrictions if on parole. Seek permission from your parole officer before any out-of-state travel.
Going on vacation can be a great way to refresh your mind and spirit. If you have a family, it can also help rebuild connections and just have fun together. To make up for the negative memories from your time in prison.
Many felons leave prison with the first goal being to find a decent job. However, if you have the finances, consider a cruise that will help make that new start all the more enjoyable and encouraging.