Self-serve passport kiosks are taking airports around the world by storm as efforts to speed up customs processes using technology kick into full gear, and now they are coming to passenger cruise ships.
Vancouver International Airport’s Innovative Travel Solutions (ITS) has announced that two BorderXpress kiosks have been installed on Ferries del Caribe’s cruise ship, the MV Kydon, making it the first-ever cruise operator in the world to install border control kiosks on a ship or ferry. This follows a five-month pilot program testing the kiosks, which found that they were successful in expediting passenger processing and improving the overall passenger experience “without compromising safety,” according to a Jan. 26 press release.
“Today marks a momentous occasion for the cruise ship industry, and we are proud that our line of BorderXpress self-serve kiosks were chosen as part of this industry first,” says Chris Gilliland, director of ITS, a team at Vancouver International Airport that specializes in developing and delivering innovative travel technology to enhance travelers’ overall experience and the airport’s performance. “No matter where they are implemented, BorderXpress kiosks enable immigration officers to process more passengers per hour, reduce passenger wait times and overall operating costs, and free up border officers to focus on security, intelligence and enforcement activities.”
The MV Kydon offers services from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The BorderXpress kiosks can be used by US citizens, US legal permanent residents, Canadian citizens, travelers with ESTA (Visa Waiver program), and travelers entering with a B1/B2 or D visa.
“This is a celebratory day for Ferries del Caribe as we become the first in the world to install border control kiosks onboard a passenger ship,” Néstor González García, president of Ferries del Caribe, adds in the release. “We’re delighted to partner with Innovative Travel Solutions to implement the BorderXpress kiosks, which allow us to modernize our border clearance process and ensure our passengers have an enjoyable and seamless experience on their trip with us.”
Currently, more than 1,300 BorderXpress kiosks are in use at 39 airport and seaport locations. As of December 2017, BorderXpress kiosks have processed over 160 million passengers in 36 languages.
What differentiates the airport kiosks and the new cruise ship ones is that the latter can connect via satellite to a secured segregated VLAN for communication, and sends passenger encrypted information to a border control agency that returns a government response in seconds. A border services agent verifies the passenger’s receipt and makes the final approval to allow them into the country.