New Port Tech to Speed Up Carnival Cruise Debarkation

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Carnival Cruise Line has announced that in just a matter of days, new facial recognition technology will be active at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York City. This will permit cruise guests to debark their vessels much more efficiently without sacrificing security and customs precautions.

Facial Recognition Coming to the Big Apple

Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald made the announcement on facial recognition technology with respect to the new Carnival Venezia, which will be arriving for the first time in New York City on Thursday, June 15, 2023.

The new technology, however, will not be fully in place for debarkation of that maiden transatlantic crossing, but will be used beginning with debarkation of the next sailing, a 4-night roundtrip cruise to Bermuda.

“I’m excited to confirm that United States Customs and Border Protection has approved for us to roll out Facial Recognition in New York commencing with the debarkation on June 19th, 2023,” Heald said.

Carnival Venezia Cruise Ship
Carnival Venezia Cruise Ship (Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line)

Eight kiosks will be available with facial recognition capabilities, which can be used for any guests with U.S. passports, passport cards, or residence cards.

Read Also: Do You Need a Passport to Go on a Cruise?

This technology allows passengers to debark a cruise much more quickly, as each individual guest or family group doesn’t need to stop and speak with a customs official. Instead, cameras quickly capture and match up each individual’s face with digital records to confirm their identity.

In many cases, cruise passengers only pause for a second or two while their image is recorded, and the technology is more than 98% accurate. The digital data is not sold or used for any marketing, advertising, or surveillance operations.

Guests can also request a manual document check if preferred, or if their digital information is not matched up successfully.

Other Cruise Ports With Facial Recognition

Facial recognition technology has been in place at different cruise ports for years, including homeports in Florida, California, and Texas. The wireless process is smooth and fast, permitting ever-busier cruise ports to more quickly and securely process guests to get travelers on their way.

Much of the technology was implemented as cruising resumed in the summer of 2021 after the industry-wide pandemic shutdown. Facial recognition is wireless processing that helps minimize in-person contact and eases crowding in cruise terminals.

PortMiami Cruise Ships
PortMiami Cruise Ships (Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock)

The efficiency and speed of the technology helps make the embarkation and debarkation processes – often lengthy, crowded, and frustrating – smoother and easier for everyone.

“Biometric technology will play an increasingly important role in ensuring a modern and more secure and efficient travel system for all,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy, when facial recognition was rolled out in 2021.

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At ports using facial recognition, guests simply walk past the processing kiosks, pausing for 1-2 seconds until their image is successfully captured and matched. In comparison, speaking with a customs official for a manual document check could take 1-2 minutes per person or family group.

With cruise ships carrying thousands of passengers per sailing, the reduction in time for customs processing can be startlingly dramatic.

Carnival Venezia, for example, can welcome 4,090 guests at double occupancy and as many as 5,263 travelers when fully booked with all berths filled.

As ports get busier and busier, the new technology will be a welcome addition to help passengers spend less time with paperwork and processing and more time getting down to the fun of a cruise or making their way back home to rest up for their next cruise vacation.

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