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Cruising in the Schengen Zone

I apologize if this is a repeat topic but after getting no true response from the consulates, I'm at my wits end. How does this rule apply to cruising? For example, one of our cruises
encompass many Schengen countries except for 2 days in St Petersburg. We leave Finland at 5PM and arrive in St Petersburg at 6:30AM. We do not leave St Petersburg till the next day(overnight) until 6PM and then arrive in Estonia at 7AM. My questions are as follows: on a cruise, will we be clocked out at 5PM when leaving Finland or on a cruise does the clock keep running? We are booked on 14 back to back cruises and the answer to this question will apply to several of them. Second question, can we apply for a temporary resident visa for our stay on the cruise ship.
Our trip starts on May 26, 2022 from Florida and ends in Florida on November 2022. I knew nothing of the 90/180 day rule till months after I booked and have been looking for answers ever since. Any help would be much appreciated.

Posted by
15 posts

When you stay more than 30 days in the country you need a visa..when you are less than 30 days in a country you don´t need a visa.

Posted by
3654 posts

You will have to add up all of your days in the Schengen zone countries, including days sailing between Schengen ports. It will be a fair amount of work to see if the 90/180 day rule is exceeded. You will have to count fractions of days as whole days.

Visas to exceed the 90/180 rule are not designed for what you are doing, but first determine whether there is a problem. If you want to get a visa you are going to have to apply to the country you are spending the most nights in. You may need to travel to another city, say Washington, to apply for a visa and have an interview.

Since you appear to have a lot of money, you could overstay and risk the fine and banishment for a certain number of years, and possibly some hours in a cell depending upon the country, but if you follow that strategy make sure that after your 90 days are consumed that you don't leave the Schengen zone and need to re-enter before the end of the trip. That could be a stressful or interesting thing to have hanging over the conclusion of the trip depending upon your outlook.

Here's a primitive calculator for you to use, format is dd/mo/22, stack the entry and exit dates for each time in Schengen then hit calculate.

https://ec.europa.eu/assets/home/visa-calculator/calculator.htm?lang=en

Edit: I posted some unethical possibilities around the 90/180 rule but then deleted them. Pretty sure they would work though.

Posted by
5533 posts

As Tom has said, firstly you need to establish how many days you are going to be spending in the Schengen Zone. You count days not nights, so a week’s holiday is 8 days. Part days should be added in. Not all countries in Europe are in the Schengen Zone. Nights at sea count if you are in Schengen Zone countries.

As far as I am aware, there isn’t a visa that would cover your situation, so you should limit yourself to 90 days in Schengen or be prepared for the consequences. Long term visas are available, but that’s for residency in one country, not zapping around Europe as you are proposing. Getting a residency visa isn’t that easy.

Posted by
13471 posts

When you stay more than 30 days in the country you need a visa.

Not true. American citizens with U.S. passports may visit any combination of Schengen countries as tourists, without a visa, for an accumulated total of 90 days out of each 180-day period. The clock starts ticking at first entry into a country in the Schengen zone, and leaving the Schengen zone stops but does not clear and re-start that 180-day clock. Visas may be required for visiting purposes other than tourism, such as work. cmbarry, I'd go with (edited) what Tom, Jennifer, Bets and Paul are advising as I'll agree with the posters below that your situation is so complex that it's doubtful anyone here has a solid answer.

"The country" is also a nebulous term: countries outside the Schengen will have their own tourism requirements.

Posted by
8388 posts

This is a very complicated and unique situation that I don’t think anyone on this Forum has ever experienced. We are used to counting days on land, but you will be sailing into and out of international waters. You may need to consult a lawyer who handles European entry rules, such as an immigration or visa lawyer. That person should be able to advise you. You aren’t the first as there are several people who live permanently on cruise ships.

Posted by
5842 posts

Your situation is too complex to give a good answer without more information, and even then, a bunch of factors come into play.

  1. At the very least, one would need to know your whole itinerary, details of all 14 cruises, and time spent away from cruises.

  2. Cruises are an exception to standard travel. How the cruise handles immigration can vary based on where the ship is based, if it crosses international borders, and what arrangements are in place. For example, in the example you give, you will be in Russia, but likely under an exception for cruise ships on an escorted tour, so you forgo, probably, any need for a Russian Visa. In other places it could be the same thing, the cruise line provides information to the port authorities, but you do not show your passport, and technically, you may not even be "in" the country. Other cruises, like a river cruise entirely in the Schengen area or a country, then you enter the country as a normal tourist, the cruise line handles no immigration activity. It is also possible, that a cruise that starts and ends in the Schengen zone, may be considered all time "in" the zone, or I suppose, possibly "out" of the zone. This might be a question for each cruise line.

  3. In your example, you mention times, but any portion of a day in the Schengen zone is a full day, even if it is a few minutes.

  4. Consulates are going to be about as much help as you have already experienced, same with your Congressman.

  5. Applying for a long stay visa is not a solution. The intent with those is that you are staying the majority of the time in one location and work with a Country for the visa, no Country will issue a visa for you to just travel elsewhere. I suppose, if there is a country in the Schengen zone central to most of the cruises, you could rent an apartment there for the duration and attempt to get a visa under the guise that you will be "resident" there, may be handy to use as a base.

Just a rough impression, that is a long time, if all of the cruises are within the Schengen zone, then very likely you will exceed the 90 days.

Posted by
3193 posts

Not enough information to give an answer. Can you provide a link to the cruise?

Posted by
3789 posts

I assume that you didn't use a travel agent...since you were not made aware of Schengen rules until months after booking. You can transfer privately booked cruises to an agent who then may be able to help you wade through the rules. However, you will want to i terview the cruise specialist agent to ensure they are knowledgeable to help you.
Have you asked this question on Cruise Critic? That is primary cruising forum for North Americans. If all of these cruises are on the same cruiseline, start by asking in the cruiseline forum. Though to be honest, not that many cruise so extendedly in Europe, but give it a try.

Posted by
2125 posts

Ask your cruise line(s) if you actually leave the Schengen and if the clock stops. You’ll need an exit stamp to prove you’ve left the Schengen and that may not be provided by the cruise line. Paul gives a good explanation about cruising exceptions for immigration.

Tom gets one point for unethically thinking outside the box. But nul points for practicality.

Posted by
3193 posts

Just read the post a bit better and realised that it is a number of cruises. Ask the cruise companies how immigration is handled during the cruise and then use the tool mentioned earlier to determine how many days you will be in Schengen. But it sounds to me like you will not be able to stay within the 90 days if all those cruises are in Europe.

Posted by
7679 posts

A cruise or series of cruises may be different but we have always had to comply with Schengen when traveling in Europe even though we would have liked to stay in Europe longer. Didn’t any of the cruise lines question this plan of yours?

Posted by
21039 posts

Given that arrival day and departure day both count when totaling up Schengen time, the only days that won't add to your Schengen total will be ones spent entirely in non-Schengen countries. How that works when you're on a cruise, I have no idea. However, it seems possible you will not have enough time in non-Schengen countries--even if your cruise lines accurately record out-of-Schengen days--to get down below 90 Schengen days if your trips starts with arrival in Europe May 27 and ends in November. You didn't give us your November departure date, but even if you depart on November 1, that would be a 159-day trip. Are you spending 69 or more days in the UK, Ireland, Turkey, Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Croatia, Albania , Ukraine and Russia?

If you're over-committed to Schengen destinations, I'd start working with the cruise line(s) on converting one or more of the cruises to a credit you can use in 2023. You don't have to fly home during the period you originally planned to cruise; you can spend the former cruise time in one of the non-Schengen countries I've listed. (All subject to COVID regulations, of course.) Non-cruise time in Russia would require a visa that can be a pain to obtain.

Posted by
3654 posts

It’s going to be complicated. Here’s the outbound cruise:

https://www.princess.com/cruise-search/details?voyageCode=2309

Max 4 of the 17 initial days of the trip are in Schengen.

And then assume the final cruise stops in the Canaries or the Azores and the Schengen exit occurs then and the overstay is caught then. Seems like serious punishment in this scenario is unlikely, they are already on passage home.

Is this really a serious post? Somebody dropping $300,000 (for 2) on a trip must know ways around trivial matters like this.

Posted by
8601 posts

Seems like serious punishment in this scenario is unlikely, they are already on passage home.

Other than being banned from returning to a Schengen country for ? number of years?

Posted by
21039 posts

People who've been stopped at the airport, delayed so much that they missed their flights, fined and banned were also on their way home.

Posted by
5842 posts

This is the type of problem that will probably get no good answer, but the Cruise itinerary TomMN posted is a good example of the issue. It starts in the US, ends in the UK, visits Iceland (Schengen) for 4 days. However, depending on how Princess and Iceland handle immigration, technically, they may never enter Iceland for immigration purposes. The cruise line may provide a manifest to Iceland authorities with all information, passengers are issued a "pass" of sorts for ID, and do not even need, or allowed, their passports for the day excursion, passports never stamped, hard to say what if any electronic tracking is done, a bit like being "in-transit". Basically, Immigration does not want to spend time checking passports in and out every day. Of course the opposite may be true, they may dutifully in-process and out-process every passenger, showing a record of 4 days in the Schengen zone.

Posted by
3193 posts

And then assume the final cruise stops in the Canaries or the Azores
and the Schengen exit occurs then and the overstay is caught then.

It will probably be caught earlier. The OP mentioned Russia, if the Schengen days have run out by then they would be caught in Tallinn.

Posted by
2095 posts

Instead of trying to understand this complicated question, I recommend you contact your cruise lines about this. I’m surprised you didn’t receive this information to begin with. After all, there will be other passengers in the same boat.

Ask each cruise line the number of days you will be in the Schengen zone, they should know this and, they will tell you if you need a visa for any country.

Posted by
2 posts

The first thing I did was contact my cruise line and my rep never even heard of the rule. He tried to find info but could not find out anymore than I have. I have reached out to all entities involved with the 90/180 day rule including border patrol who doesn’t even respond. I’m not reaching out blindly, I’ve just reached the end of the resources I can find. I was hoping to find someone who has experienced this. As to your remark that the cruise line should know, they directed me to my ticket agreement that states it is up to the passenger to find out what to do🤷‍♀️

Posted by
8388 posts

A ship company, like an airline, expects the passengers to be up-to-date on visa and entry info. And that is exactly what you are doing.
I don't think this situation comes up very often. Good luck and please let us know what you find.

Posted by
3193 posts

And you did not feel the need to check immigration rules for the countries you plan to visit?

If you want help, you need to provide more information. A good start is to list all the 14 cruises you have booked, dates, and ports.

Posted by
8388 posts

Not really a bad sign because how many times has any cruise rep dealt with someone cruising back to back for six months? I wouldn't be so judgemental. Usually if someone is out cruising for several months, they are doing a round the world cruise or cruises that go to different regions. This is a very unusual case.

Posted by
3654 posts

I'd start working with the cruise line(s) on converting one or more of the cruises to a credit you can use in 2023

This is the soundest advice. And really, it all starts to look the same after a while, the paintings, churches, and quaint cobblestone alleys, so this many months of vigorous sightseeing consecutively just in Europe isn't likely to be fully appreciated.

If you are set on the last part of your itinerary and really want to cruise for many months, you could leave Europe and cruise elsewhere and then return.

Posted by
13471 posts

I recommend you contact your cruise lines about this. I’m surprised
you didn’t receive this information to begin with. After all, there
will be other passengers in the same boat.

I highly doubt that other passengers will be in the same boat (pun intended) as this is the first I've heard of someone doing that many back-to-back cruises.

That said, the 90/180 rule has been around for over 20 years, I believe. The agent referenced should have known about it if they set up your complete itinerary.

Editing to add:

I think the key will be: Is your series of cruises (14) under ONE
cruise ticket.....you board and then you get off at the very end
(leaving your suitcases and belongings on the same ship the whole
time) OR are you reboarding like a brand new passenger each time with
totally separate cruise tickets?

Yes, I think this is key info as well.

Posted by
2095 posts

Another thought, have you posted your question on the website dedicated to cruising? I believe it’s cruisecritic.com.

Posted by
1934 posts

Okay: First some questions:

1) You mention cruise line (as in singular). So, does that mean you will be staying with one cruise line brand?
2) Will you be staying on the SAME ship? As you go from country to country, OR do you have to pack up your belongings and leave the ship at the end of one cruise and then separately re-board for your next cruise...14 times? It is VERY important for us to understand this before advising.

IF (key word) your cruise is ONE long cruise (with 14 different segments) where your belongings stay on that same ship, then likely (key word) you do not have a problem.

Cruise companies sell what they call " world cruises" or some other similar term, and typically there are people who sign up for that very extended itinerary and then a bunch of other passengers who will come on and depart the ship for smaller/shorter itineraries......such as someone might sign up for a 7 or 14 day cruise thru the Baltics, but that might just be one of many segments for the longer world cruise. So, you have the long-haulers and then you will have the come-and-goers.

But,if you have purchased separate cruises, where you are getting off and staying on your own in a country, then a week or so later getting on a different ship with an entirely separate cruise ticket, then you MIGHT have a problem.

I think the key will be: Is your series of cruises (14) under ONE cruise ticket.....you board and then you get off at the very end (leaving your suitcases and belongings on the same ship the whole time) OR are you reboarding like a brand new passenger each time with totally separate cruise tickets?

I hope that question makes sense.

Posted by
1934 posts

which cruise line are you sailing with. And, if you post a link to the itinerary or give us the journey number (or numbers if plural cruises), I can take a look and figure out what you have going on.

Posted by
3789 posts

I did a quick google check and there was a question on Cruise Critic about how to calculate days on a cruise. It seems the clock counts all cruise days if you leave and arrive in a Schengen port. It also cites the rules for you to review. https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2639350-question-is-the-ship-in-schengen-area-while-cruising/
So it looks like the counter starts when you arrive in Iceland and unless you get a stamp for exiting the region, it will keep counting.

Posted by
3654 posts

So it looks like the counter starts when you arrive in Iceland and unless you get a stamp for exiting the region, it will keep counting.

Probably not, the UK is not in the Schengen Zone so leaving Seyðisfjörður is leaving Schengen. If they are formally logged in they will be formally logged out.

"where a cruise ship departs from a port situated in a Member State to a port in a third country, crew and passengers shall be subject to exit checks"

The example in the link is Spanish territory cruising to Spanish mainland. And as pointed out, we don't really know how any of this is logged into the Schengen computer system, whether there's some kind of transiting-the-country waiver used or official entries and exits or what. In any event the OP can prove he was not in Schengen the last days of the cruise even if it is in the computer system incorrectly.

Posted by
1 posts

I came upon this thread because we’re in a similar situation. We have 4 summertime 2022 European cruises booked already and are looking at 2 more. We also have 7 weeks on land in Spain and 4 weeks in Edinburgh. Our cruises are on 2 different lines. We wonder if our transatlantic trip to Barcelona starts the Schengen clock when we stop in the Canary Islands even though we have days at sea between there and Barcelona. Does the cruise out of London with many Scandinavian ports count Russia days??

I have several other nomadic friends in the same boat. For those who assume this is a luxury only for the uber-wealthy, that’s incorrect. It’s cheaper for us to cruise than to stay in hotels.

Posted by
343 posts

. We wonder if our transatlantic trip to Barcelona starts the Schengen clock when we stop in the Canary Islands even though we have days at sea between there and Barcelona. Does the cruise out of London with many Scandinavian ports count Russia days??

I don't know about Russia via cruise ship - it maybe different - by land obviously you're leaving the Schengen area and the time would NOT count against your Schengen count down.

Schengen counts days not hours - so even if you left Finland at t minutes past midnight -that day would count for Schengen.

I researched the same thing for Europe - and we arrive in Schengen in Madeira - days before we get to the mainland - all of those days count as Schengen - and in reverse so if the Canaries was your last port in Schengen then the count would stop then. The link quoted in the cruise critic thread is the one I found too be the official word on it.

The UK is not in Schengen and Scotland is still in the Uk - so that time does not count.

Just pick your cruises - I'm eying up a 7 day in Croatia - that starts and stops in Croatia - all outside of Schengen. In fact most of Eastern Europe is outside of Schengen. Also if you are in Portugal / Spain consider adding on Morocco

Also depending on your passport you may have an option for a tourist visa which does NOT count against Schenen - I believe as a kiwi I can get a 30 day visa for Spain which would NOT count against the 90 days in Schengen

Posted by
3193 posts

anythenomad: It is better to start a new thread instead of reviving an old one. It will be easier for other to spot that there is a new thread, and if you had started your own thread you would get an email every time someone posts on the thread. Now cmbarry will get an email every time someone answers your question (sorry about that cmbarry).

To answer your question, you need to check this with the cruise line and don't trust random strangers on the internet. Because this is a thing you really don't want to go wrong, that could result in a big fine and being deported with a five year ban on returning.

Just pick your cruises - I'm eying up a 7 day in Croatia - that starts
and stops in Croatia - all outside of Schengen.

Just keep in mind that that might change soon. https://vlada.gov.hr/news/we-expect-to-enter-schengen-during-2022/32532

Posted by
343 posts

LOL maybe @Badger - just like Turkey may join too - not going to be affecting tourists anytime soon Iwould think

Posted by
3193 posts

That is comparing apples to cheese. The membership negotiations with Turkey are de facto frozen, while Croatia has made a lot of progress towards Schengen membership. And while 2022 is optimistic in my opinion, I would not call it impossible.