Do You Really Need A Passport To Cruise?

We get this question all the time, and it usually goes something like this:

Them: “Hey let me ask you a question!”
Us: “Sure, go ahead!”
Them: “Do I HAVE to have a passport?”
Us: “Well that depends…”

See, if you’re cruising from the continental United States the short answer to that question is, no. You do not HAVE to have a passport to go on a vacation cruise. With that being said, we ALWAYS recommend that you carry one in case of emergency.

Let’s say that you’re docked in Belize and you’re out visiting the shops. You know… Just having yourself a “good ol’ time,” and you miss your embarkation time (the time when you’re supposed to be back on the ship). If you didn’t travel with a passport you will have a VERY difficult time getting on an airplane to get back into the United States.

Perhaps there’s an emergency where you disembark the ship mid-cruise. Again, it would be VERY difficult for you to get back into the United States without a passport.

Now, if by chance you don’t have a passport, you are still able to enjoy the vacation cruise experience. Here’s what the regulations say:

U.S. citizens on closed-loop cruises: U.S. citizens on cruises in the Western Hemisphere that originate and terminate in the same U.S. port are required to have proof of citizenship such as a valid US passport or a government issued birth certificate combined with a government issued photo I.D. Other approved proof of citizenship documents such as a passport card, an enhanced driver’s license (EDL) or certificate of naturalization along with a government-issued photo ID are also acceptable. A passport is still the preferred document. PLEASE NOTE –WHTI-compliant documents are acceptable for entry or re-entry into the United States. You may be required to present additional or different travel documents when entering foreign countries, including some countries in the Western Hemisphere.

Children: U.S. citizen children under the age of 16 traveling on a closed-loop cruise (a cruise in the Western Hemisphere which originates and ends in the same U.S. port) will be able to present their government issued birth certificate or other proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a naturalization certificate or citizenship card to sail. Birth certificates can be an original, photocopy or certified original.

NOTE: This normally applies to women that are married and changed their last name after marriage, but may apply to men also. If you are traveling with just a driver’s license and a birth certificate, make sure the last names match on both. If not, you will NOT be able to cruise.

— Updated Nov. 9, 2012 —
Here’s the formula for traveling without passports:

[toggle title=”Man without passport”]
You need:
1 – A VALID Government Issued Photo Id (a valid Driver’s License will work fine)
2 – Original Birth Certificate (or certified copy with raised seal)[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Woman without passport”]
You need:
1 – A VALID Government Issued Photo Id (a valid Driver’s License will work fine)
2 – Original Birth Certificate (or certified copy with raised seal)
3 – If married, bring your official marriage certificate (or certified copy) to match your maiden name on your birth certificate to your married name on your Driver’s License**[/toggle]

Here’s the link for actual travel documentation regulations:

Here’s the link to apply for a passport:

We want to make sure you have everything you need to have an enjoyable experience on the oceans, and at the same time, be prepared!

Make sure you check out the next cruise we have coming up by clicking here!

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