We will be travelling on a cruise ship from the UK to New York, going ashore for a couple of hours then departing same day to the Caribbean visiting various countries, returning to New York, going ashore again for a few hours and then returning to the UK. It will be the same ship the whole time. New York is one of the reasons we chose this cruise along with all the other destinations, which include US islands.

Do we answer the question "In Transit" YES or NO?

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    Are you departing New York on the same cruise ship you are arriving on? Both ways? Jun 5, 2019 at 13:34

1 Answer 1


"In transit" means that the main purpose of your 'visit' is as a stopping point to get from one place to another. I find it helpful to ask two questions:

  1. If there was literally nothing you wanted to see or do in the place you are coming to (New York) would you still be coming there?
  2. Are you spending as little time as reasonably possible there to achieve your transit?

If the answers to both those are "yes" then you can confidently say you are 'in transit'. If the answer to either is 'no' then you might be better off stating 'tourism'.

If you were arriving on a cruise ship and departing on the same cruise ship (and could reasonably have stayed on the cruise ship) then question 1 would be answered 'no' and you are not in transit. You should choose "tourism".

If you are arriving on a cruise ship and transferring to a different ship then you should choose "in transit".

Being in transit does not stop you doing tourist stuff while you are there. Also if you are a UK citizen it is unlikely that the answer will make a difference to whether you are granted an ESTA or not. And in any case, stating on an ESTA 'In transit' as the purpose of your initial visit does not prevent you using the ESTA for other purposes later on.

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    This doesn't really answer the question. Transit implies the only reason you are there is as a means to get to somewhere else. A cruise ship stops are clearly not that. There is no way this could be considered transit.
    – Doc
    Jun 5, 2019 at 19:12
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    Hence my comment on the question. If the OP is arriving by cruise ship and departing on the same cruise ship then they are in not transit. If they are arriving by ship and then departing by some other route then they are (probably) in transit. Jun 5, 2019 at 19:16
  • @Doc, DJClayworth regardless of whether it's the same ship, and even if the answer should be "no" in this case, answering "yes" is unlikely to have any adverse effects (nor would answering no if the correct answer is yes).
    – phoog
    Jun 5, 2019 at 20:47
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    @DJClayworth I don't understand the same ship/different ship distinction. During the Cold War, Soviet airspace was closed and flights from Europe to the Far East would go via Alaska, and refuel there. Are you saying that somebody who travelled, e.g, London-Anchorage-Tokyo on one plane would be a tourist and somebody who travelled London-Anchorage on one plane and Anchorage-Tokyo on another would be in transit? Jun 5, 2019 at 21:06
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    @DavidRicherby My assumption was that if they came and left on the same ship then the stop would be just part of the cruise, and they didn't need to get off, in which case the reason for coming to NY could only be tourism. If it was a different ship/plane then the purpose of coming ashore would be to get on the other ship/plane and that would be transit. I admit it's an assumption but it seemed reasonable at the time. Frankly the comment here have got extremely complicated for something that I thought was going to be an easy answer, and I'm beginning to regret it. Jun 5, 2019 at 22:37

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