Cruise passengers can now ditch long customs lines using an app at this South Florida port

A mobile app designed to speed travelers’ entry into the U.S. can now be used at Port Everglades — making the Fort Lauderdale seaport the first in the nation to offer the service.

The app, Mobile Passport Control, is available for iPhone and Android devices, and is in use at airports throughout the U.S., including Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport. Cruise passengers at Port Everglades can use it beginning today, the port said in a news release.

Busy Port Everglades has a new way to help travelers sail through customs lines. (Provided)
Busy Port Everglades has a new way to help travelers sail through customs lines. (Provided)

The app’s availability for travelers comes on the eve of the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, taking up residence at Port Everglades.

Here’s how the app works, according to its website:

• Travelers download the app and complete a profile for themselves. They also can add profiles for family members. That information is encrypted and shared only with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

• Before leaving the cruise ship, the user enters the information they would have written on a customs form into the app by answering a few questions.

• The app generates a barcode, which the user can take to a specific Mobile Passport Control office after leaving the ship. A customs officer will scan the barcode, and the traveler will be able to head on their way.

In addition to the app, Port Everglades also recently finished testing Automated Passport Control kiosks in its cruise terminals. Similar to the way the app works, travelers can use the kiosks to fill out their biographical information and customs declarations before heading to a customs line.

“Through our partnership with Port Everglades, we have worked together to bring new technology and procedures to the cruise ship processing environment,” Jorge Roig, Customs port director at Port Everglades, said in a news release. “The addition of the Mobile Passport App and Automated Passport Control Kiosk to the cruise ship environment will bring added benefits to all those that utilize the program and will assist CBP in the completion of its mission of keeping maritime travel safe.”






River cruise bookings grow by 16 percent

River cruise bookings have increased more than 16 percent over the last year, as travelers look for ways to explore areas that large ocean liners can’t reach, according to a national survey released Friday by AAA.

Photo caption: A river cruise. Photo credit: Viking River Cruises
Photo caption: A river cruise.
Photo credit: Viking River Cruises

Two in five Americans say they would consider river cruising for an upcoming vacation, while one in five say they are likely to take a river cruise in the next five years, AAA’s survey found.

“Cruising is an all-inclusive vacation, offering travelers an unparalleled opportunity to explore multiple destinations in comfort and luxury,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “What people love about river cruising is the ships can take you to popular inland destinations where big ocean liners can’t go, because the water is too shallow.”

Europe and Asia are among the most popular destinations for river cruisers, and the vacations appeal to both older travelers and millennials, according to AAA.

“Millennials tend to place great value on experiential travel opportunities and are looking to river cruising as an increasingly viable option for their future vacations,” Jenkins said.