Do I need a passport to go on a cruise?

by Janis on February 16, 2011

Every Tuesday is Travel Tip Day

Today: Do I need a passport to cruise?

Want to go on a cruise?

We find cruising a relaxing way to explore the world without unpacking more than once.

We’ve visited some of the world’s most unique spots, like the Polar Ice Cap, via a cruise ship.

A frequent question question we hear is “Do I need a passport to go on a cruise?”

Our simple answer is “Yes.”  Why wouldn’t you get a passport?  Don’t you want to see the world?

It is a valid question, since less than 30 percent of U.S. citizens have passports, while the percentage of the Americans wanting to cruise–especially to the Caribbean and Alaska — continues to grow.

US Citizens Do Not Need a Passport for Some Cruises

As much as we’d like to see you get a passport so you can explore the world, it turns out that U.S. citizens do not currently need a passport for some “closed-loop” cruises to foreign ports within the Western Hemisphere.

If the cruise begins and ends in the same U.S. port – such as Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, New Orleans, or Seattle — for example, U.S. citizens are able to enter the United States with a birth certificate and government issued photo ID.

Check out this page of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for more information. Be sure to scroll down to the paragraphy on “Closed Loop” Cruises.

Be Aware

Just because you can get on and off the cruise ship in Miami without a passport does not mean that you will be welcome off the ship in the countries your cruise is visiting.

Many Caribbean islands and Canadian ports on Alaska cruises allow visitors from cruise ships without a passport, but check with your cruise line to ensure you have the proper documents.

After all, you don’t want to be left at the pier.

Getting a Passport is Still Best Advice

Even if you are on a closed-loop cruise visiting non-passport required Caribbean islands, a passport is still a good idea.  Why?

If you need to leave the ship to fly home due to an emergency, you would not have proper documentation required for a border crossing by air or land.

Additionally, countries can always change their positions about immigration with little to no notice.

Just Do It

Just get your passport.   And get ready to explore the world.

Learn how to apply for a passport at the State Department’s travel web site, or visit your post office.  

Are you a cruise fan? Do you have a passport?  Why or Why Not? Please share in comments.

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