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Do Cruise Ships Run Background Checks on Passengers?

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In looking for a job after release, a felon may want to travel abroad by taking a cruise. This blog post will cover whether or not cruise ships run background checks on passengers.

  • What Is Included in a Background Check?
  • Background Check on Passengers?
  • Background Checks on Crew Members?
  • Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?


What Is Included in a Background Check?

A cruise ship is often called a floating city. Approximately 10 million people travel on cruise ships annually on trips that often extend to a week or more, traveling to a variety of domestic and foreign seaports.

A cruise ship might review a person’s background because they don’t want someone who poses a risk for security and safety issues, mainly because of dishonesty. Their criminal history can be a problem even if they are now committed to living an honest lifestyle.

A cruise line may view at least some of the following:

  • Credit reports
  • Driving records
  • Educational records
  • Criminal offenses

Background information helps a cruise ship to determine someone:

  • Past mistakes
  • Character
  • Financial Fitness

The criminal record review conducted by a background check includes examining criminal history files for any criminal offenses, which will reveal all convictions and non-convictions, including cases not prosecuted or ones dismissed. Convictions can be reported with no time limit while a non-conviction will show up for seven years. A crime will not show up on a background check if a felon has his or her record expunged.

Cruise Ships Run Background Checks on Passengers?

Cruise lines are not required by law to do a criminal background check on passengers. Published policies for cruise lines state any restrictions on passengers with a criminal history. At least one cruise line advertises that it does background checks at a seller’s expense, including the following information:

  • Social Security Number trace
  • Criminal records (county, state, and national)
  • National Sex Offender Registry

Cruise ships may ask for the following information on passengers:

  • Name
  • Aliases
  • Date of birth
  • Sex
  • Citizenship
  • Passport number and country
  • Destination
  • Date of departure and arrival
  • Purpose of travel
  • Business
  • Deportation
  • Military
  • Relocation
  • Criminal record
  • State or jurisdiction of conviction
  • Offenses requiring registration

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for keeping the country’s transportation systems secure, which includes airports and cruise ports. The TSA sets standards for maritime security. Each cruise line provides specific procedures for passenger entry onto a ship.

The TSA works with cruise companies to provide intensive security techniques, including:

  • Canine teams
  • Explosives experts
  • Advanced imagery technology
  • Terrorist watch list

Passengers may go through a security check before boarding a U.S. vessel in domestic or foreign waters. This is done as a joint effort of the TSA and the cruise ship operators. U.S. citizens are required to establish their identity with a government-issued photo ID. This may be a driver’s license, a passport, or a U.S. military ID.

When someone is on a cruise, the ship completes a manifest, a list of the names and details of each passenger. This is given to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Anyone with a warrant is typically apprehended when the cruise ship returns to port. Anyone departing the U.S. and returning must go through immigration.

Felons are permitted to go on a closed-loop cruise, which is one that departs from and arrives back at the same U.S. port.

Background Check on Crew Members?

Unlike for passengers, criminal background checks are a requirement for all crew members, and these are provided directly by the crew member from their local police department or third parties.

Anyone applying for a crew member visa can be denied because of drug or criminal offenses. All crew is subject to a full review every 90 days to maintain employment on certain cruise lines.

Typically, a person wanting to work for a cruise line must meet certain requirements, including:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Valid passport
  • Have a pre-employment medical exam certificate
  • Pass the English fluency requirements

Background checks on all cruise ship personnel are conducted by agencies in the candidate’s home country. A criminal history document and native country are required. Previous arrests or convictions are handled on an individual basis.

Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?

Doing a background check on yourself before going on a cruise will allow you, as a felon, to know exactly what will be discovered when the cruise line does its review through the TSA. A felon with any questions can contact an attorney. It is essential to take action and not risk a chance on the results.

There are different kinds of personal background checks that a felon can run:

  • From the court in which he or she was charged
  • A credit report will help determine how financially responsible an individual is
  • Driving records for any job involving driving, such as a truck driver
  • An educational report through the National Student Clearing House

For someone wanting to do a background check on themselves, there are places that can help. A felon would have the best chance at getting a job on a cruise ship by having his or her record expunged.

It is never a good idea to lie about your past history on an application. This could result in not being allowed on a cruise ship if the cruise line finds out about it. Take responsibility for past difficulties and explain how you are putting your life in order. Doing your own background check allows you to know what a cruise ship will see on your record.

Be willing to see yourself in a different light, and be ready to establish an honest life. The best opportunity for success in a new life begins with having support from family and friends.

So what do you think about this blog post about whether or not cruise ships run background checks on passengers? Have you or someone you know had a cruise ship run a background check? What was that like and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below. 

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