A frequent question we hear from potential clients is “Do I need a passport to go on a cruise?”
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 continues to grow.
Our simple answer is “Yes.” Why wouldn’t you get a passport? It costs $135 and is good for 10 years. That’s $13.50 per year for the right to explore the world.
US Citizens Do Not Need a Passport for Select “Closed Loop” Cruises
As much as we’d like to see you get a passport so you can explore the world, the correct answer to the question is 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 paragraph on “Closed Loop” Cruises.
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 Caribbean islands that don’t require cruise ship visitors to have a passport, having a passport is still a good idea.
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.
Likewise, if your flight that you are taking to get to your cruise is delayed, and you miss the ship, you would not be allowed to fly to the first port to catch up to the ship.
Without a passport, you also won’t be able to participate in some popular shore excursions, such as the White Pass & Yukon Rail tour offered out of Skagway and Haines Alaska. This excursion requires a passport, since you cross into Canada, just like the miners did in search of gold.
Finally, 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.