After sailing the waterways of Europe, many North American travellers are beginning to look at some of river cruising’s more exotic destinations, like Asia, Russia and even the Amazon. But if you’re based in North America and have never travelled to one of these countries before, there’s an extra step you’re going to need to take before you can set off on your adventure.
Specifically, you’re going to need to get a visa.
Besides a financial investment — which can be substantial — the process of securing a foreign visa can also present some logistical problems for the frequent traveller.
To start with, applicants are typically required to submit their passport with their completed forms, meaning the passport could be be out of your possession for up to six weeks. Your passport must also have two blank, facing pages; note that these cannot be the Amendments & Endorsements pages. Your passport must also be free of rips, tears, or other excessive wear. If it isn’t, expect either a lengthy delay or an outright rejection of your application.
You also have to provide one professional, passport-style photograph — in color — with your application.
Then, there’s the visa Application Form itself, which varies depending on each country you’re applying for. Viking River Cruises has a convenient partnership in place for its guests that will allow applicants to use a company called GenVisa to simplify the process. It’s more costly than preparing the application yourself and submitting it with the required fee, but for more complex visa applications, this service could be worth the extra charge.
The questions and information you are required to provide will depend on the country you are applying to, but it is important to thoroughly read all the questions and answer them truthfully. Failure to do so can result in excessive delays or rejection. For some countries — like Russia — you must specify the exact dates you will be in that country. These cannot change at all, so make sure you have your itinerary in front of you, and never guess. Again, most river cruise companies can assist with the process.
Some countries — again, such as Russia — want to know every country you’ve visited for the past decade — down to the exact date (example: March 28, 2003, France). It will be beneficial to prepare this information before beginning your application, as some online applications are time-limited to 20 minutes or less.
Not all applications are as involved; the form used to request visas to Egypt, for example, is a simple, three-page affair.
So what do visas cost? Here’s a rough rundown of some basic visa application fees, in US Dollars, current as of April 15, 2013. Note: We’ve used pricing that reflects what GenVisa charges its clients, since many prospective cruisers will likely use a similar service; actual fees for applying directly to each country will be slightly less.
|COUNTRY||COST PER PERSON (Agency)||COST PER COUPLE (Agency)|
|CHINA & TIBET||$208||$398|
|EGYPT & JORDAN||$98||$179|
Despite the financial and time constraints associated, visas should be thought of as an investment. After all, some of the world’s most beautiful destinations await — once you obtain the right to enter legally.