I’m Going On A Mediterranean Cruise Leaving From Southampton. My Daughter Lives In Gibraltar, The Second To Last Port Of Call. Can I Leave The Cruise There And Fly Back Under My Own Steam?
Most cruise lines will allow you to end your journey before the scheduled final port if it is possible, although you’ll probably be charged the full price and any gratuities added to the bill will run to the full length of the cruise.
However, you need to check with the individual companies beforehand to make sure this is allowed and most require you to submit the request in writing.
The USA has a specific law, called the Jones Act, that restricts foreign-registered passenger vessels from transporting guests from one port to another port within the USA.
European countries used to have something similar, but these laws have generally disappeared due to EU open trade rules.
In the US, it means passengers have to embark and disembark at the same port, or the cruise company will be fined. That’s currently around $300 for each person.
It’s complicated. If a cruise starts in the US, but calls at a so-called ‘distant port’ then the law doesn’t apply. But the nearest ‘distant port’ to the US is in South America – those in Canada, the Caribbean, Central America and Bermuda are not included.
Ships setting off from the US territories of Puerto Rico or the American Virgin Islands are also exempt from this.
And if you want to get off at a non-US port, such as Barbados, then again it’s not applicable.
Another problem to be aware of is that some cruise ports aren’t set up as international gateways in the same way that, say, international airports are. There might not be immigration staff at the port who can issue you with a visitors’ visa.
In your case, because your cruise doesn’t start and end in the US, so you should be able to leave early.
But because the rules are so complicated it’s important to contact your cruise line beforehand, and not just turn up at the gangway with your bags expecting to be let off.
And never just disappear – that can cause all sorts of problems with the immigration authorities!