Carnival Speeding Up Debarkation for Millions With Biometrics

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Carnival Cruise Line is expanding its use of facial biometric technology to facilitate debarkation at nine different homeports, getting travelers on their way more quickly and smoothly after enjoying their cruise vacations. To date, more than three million Carnival guests have already enjoyed expedited, simplified debarkation.

Nine Carnival Homeports Using Facial Biometrics

Nine of Carnival Cruise Line’s 14 US homeports are now using facial biometric technology in partnership with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), covering the busiest homeports the cruise line uses and already expediting debarkation processing for more than three million guests.

The technology is already being successfully used for Carnival cruises at Port Canaveral, the world’s busiest cruise port, as well as Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, New York, Baltimore, Mobile, Galveston, and Long Beach.

Carnival Cruise Ships in Miami
Photo Credit: pisaphotography /

“Expanding this technology at our U.S. homeports ensures we’re doing everything we can to make the debarkation process as simple as possible for our guests,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “Thanks to our partnership with CBP, these technology solutions make the process more efficient, while giving guests a sense of safety and security, knowing their information is protected.”

This summer, these ports include sailings for Carnival’s two Excel-class ships, Mardi Gras from Port Canaveral and Carnival Celebration from Miami. These are the largest ships in Carnival’s fleet, and each one can host 5,282 guests at double occupancy, or as many as 6,465 passengers when fully booked with all berths filled. During the summer months, full bookings are more likely as families and groups travel.

When the third Excel-class ship, Carnival Jubilee, joins the fleet in December from Galveston, guests sailing on the new vessel will also enjoy the benefits of facial biometric technology.

How Facial Biometrics Work

Facial biometrics recognition works by taking a high speed, high quality photo of guests as they debark the ship, and rapidly comparing that photo to the image already on file with each guest’s passport or visa.

The process only takes an average of two seconds, and has a greater than 98% accuracy rate. After the traveler’s identity is confirmed they are free to leave immediately, and US citizens’ photos are deleted to protect privacy.

“CBP is excited to expand the use of facial biometrics in the debarkation process to further secure and streamline the passenger experience through public/private partnerships with the cruise industry,” said Diane J. Sabatino, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, US Customs and Border Protection.

Carnival Cruise Port Biometrics
Carnival Cruise Port Biometrics

“Through our partnership with Carnival Cruise Line, we will continue to transform cruise operations by leveraging technology and enhanced processes while also strengthening our data sharing agreement to further secure U.S. seaports.”

Data collected from the technology’s implementation so far shows an average of 30% faster debarkation, compared to traditional manual document checks of travelers’ passports or other identification. When debarking thousands of guests in just a few hours, this can be a significant improvement over traditional debarkation.

Guests who may be uncomfortable with the technology or prefer manual document screenings can opt out of the facial biometric process in favor of a document check from a CBP officer.

A total of 38 seaports across the US (cargo as well as passenger ports) have biometric technology available, and while not all are Carnival Cruise Line homeports, other cruise lines are also utilizing the technology.

In April, Norwegian Cruise Line introduced the technology to Boston, and all cruise lines that use the Massachusetts homeport will be able to utilize it.

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