Do I need a passport to cruise? 

I get asked this question a lot, and the simple answer is no most times, but I would highly recommend you have one; so yes. Confused? 

Let me break down this question a bit. If you are going to go on a cruise and that cruise is a “closed-loop” cruise, meaning that it begins and ends at the same port with one international port, then you are not required to have a passport.U.S. citizens on closed-loop cruises can enter or depart the country on the cruise with proof of citizenship…

So then, why would I recommend that you still have a passport?

Many things can happen while traveling, as the past few years have shown us, but beyond the obvious, there are reasons you might not have thought of. 

  • Depending on your ports during the cruise, some countries will still require you to have a passport to disembark the ship. “However, it is possible that one or more of the destination countries on your itinerary may require a passport to enter. In those instances, the cruise lines would require passengers to have a valid passport to board, even if it is not a US requirement.”  Certain islands in the Caribbean – Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Barts, Barbados, and others — require a passport for entry. Your responsibility (not your cruise line’s) is to learn the requirements of each destination you visit before you go. Even when cruising closed-loop within the US, there are times when you may need a passport. When we took our Alaska cruise, we flew into and sailed out of Vancouver, so of course, we needed a passport, but even if you sail out of Seattle, you would not need one. But there is one hitch to that if you want to get off and take an excursion or continue your vacation with by sea and rails you would not be able to because you would be possibly crossing over the Canadian border. So not having a passport could limit your choices of excursions; I remember seeing many tours that required a passport because you would be crossing the border on your hike/4×4/train.
  • If you need to cut your cruise short due to illness or injury and the only port the cruise line can get you to is a foreign port, you will need a passport. You are responsible for getting yourself home, and if you do not have a passport, this could delay you. A passport for a flight home would be essential.
  •  If you find yourself without a passport but in need of one, you would need to contact and locate the nearest US embassy or consulate and request an emergency limited validity passport to fly home. The process requires explaining your urgent situation, completing an application, and showing your travel documents, photo identification, and proof of citizenship. You will also need to take a passport-sized photo and pay the required fees. While this type of passport can be issued within as little as a day, it could take up to a week to receive.
  • Occasionally the cruise line will need to change their itinerary unexpectedly; this could be to avoid a storm, illness on board, mechanical troubles, and many other reasons. If this happens, you could find yourself in a situation that might be a surprise to your travels; it might also make you wonder how you will get home without a passport. I was reading an article about a ship that broke down, and the cruise line was flying everyone home, but there were a few passengers that did not have a passport. The cruise line was doing its best but could not get these passengers home promptly.
As you can see, having a passport while cruising is a great idea; there are too many “what ifs?” and it is an easy way to secure your family and your safety in an emergency. 



If you love to travel and don’t have a passport, ask yourself, “Why not?” 

Passports are very valuable while traveling for many reasons.

You can use them for identification; they are the only form allowed while traveling internationally.  If you aren’t carrying your passport, it’s virtually impossible to enter another country by airplane or ship without being denied entry. In addition to identifying yourself through your photo and signature, passports are marked with a unique number called an “international standard serial number,” which allows customs officials to access your personal information quickly. The government of a specific nation issues passports rather than private companies like airlines, making having one an integral part of international travel. 

Having all this information in one place while traveling internationally is a great reason that you should carry your passport with you. 

Proof of citizenship; not only is it convenient to have it all in one place, but it is also the best way to prove you are who you say you are in case of an emergency. 

It is essential for children because any parent traveling with their child must have proof of citizenship on hand to cross international borders. If the parents don’t have passports or travel documents, expire while abroad, or if they decide to stay longer than expected, the child will have to be sent home as soon as possible.

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