Though you may be fully paid and reserved, there's still a bit of paperwork and information that needs to be put in order before you finally set sail. The process of completing this paperwork is called Pre-registration, and it's required by every cruise line.
The Purpose of Pre-registration
Cruise lines are required to collect personal information for every guest that's traveling on a particular ship, regardless of where you embark. Cruise lines need to know just who is sailing aboard a ship, where they're from, and where they are currently living. Not only is this for the safety of all passengers on board, it's also information that will be requested by local authorities upon arriving at individual ports. Many cruises travel to different countries, and the immigration offices at each port need to know who might be entering the country. The only way for the cruise lines to capture this required information is by requested it from each cruise guests. Entering personal information is a lengthy and tedious process, and if cruise lines had to input and verify this information on the day of departure, checking in would take all day. Consequently, most cruise lines offer online pre-registration sites so that guests can enter their information in advance.
All cruise lines will require basic guest details including:
Date of birth
Country of Citizenship
Country of Residence
Depending on the itinerary being sailed, additional documentation may also be required such as a Permanent Resident number (non-US citizens) or any travel visa that may be necessary. The pre-registration process is also useful to determining which countries might require entry visas.
Print Registration Documents
After completing pre-registration, the online system will create a Registration document that can be printed and will need to be presented to the check-in agent at embarkation. The look of these documents will vary by cruise line; some have multi-page print-outs detailing every number while others simply create a one-page form stating that all necessary information has been successfully submitted. Make sure to keep these documents on hand during embarkation and during your cruise. It's always worthwhile to have personal identity documentation available in case of emergency.
If you booked your cruise through a travel agent, they can be the first line of defense with any pre-registration problems. Some agencies offer to complete this process free of charge as a courtesy to cruise guests. Cruise line reservation departments can also answer any questions, especially those pertaining to visa and personal identification.
For a listing of pre-registration sites by cruise line, click here.