Should you have a passport for your upcoming cruise? Well, that's a complicated question and depends heavily on many factors. However, the simple and safest answer is "YES". Most cruise companies now highly recommend that all travelers hold a valid passport for their cruise, even if the cruise is a 'closed-loop' cruise. The most common reason to hold a valid passport is simple: you are safer with your passport than without it. Any time you leave the country you will want to make sure that you are free to travel abroad or back home easily, if necessary. If there is a medical emergency and you have to fly home, you'll need a valid passport book. If you suddenly have the opportunity to change your travel plans but you don't have your passport, well then you may miss out on a great opportunity.
Additionally, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires that U.S.travelers must present a passport or other document that proves identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. What does this mean for you? Well if you want to enter or exit the U.S., you will need to prove your identity and citizenship. This is what a passport does. What is the difference between a passport book and a passport card? The passport card is only valid for travel by land and sea, to Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. If you need to hop on a flight, you will need a passport book. The passport book is valid for all types of international travel so it is often preferred over the passport card.
The passport requirements are based on a few factors, mainly the cruise line and the type of cruise you choose. The cruise passport requirements are often available directly on the website of the cruiseline so please check with your cruise company directly. Also, the passport requirements may be impacted by your travel destination. For instance, Canada, Mexico, and Antarctica all have specific travel requirements. But when in doubt, get your passport. You will not regret being prepared for your travels and besides: Your passport is a ticket to see the world!
Passports are not required for 'closed loop' cruises because you are leaving and entering from the same U.S. port, without really spending any time abroad. A closed-loop cruise is a sort of “loop-hole” in the passport requirement for a cruise. A cruise that begins and ends at the same U.S. port is considered a closed loop. For example, if your cruise begins and ends at the same port in Miami, then you are on a closed loop cruise. Many cruises that have this itinerary may not require a passport. If you are a U.S. citizen traveling or from Hawaii, another U.S. territory (Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), then you may also not need a passport.
However, as we mentioned previously, you will have better protections in the event of an emergency or a change of travel plans simply by carrying a valid passport. Remember that travel plans change and you may need to fly out of the United States to meet your ship at the next available port if you miss the scheduled embarkation. Additionally, if travels need to fly to the U.S. before their cruise ends because of medical, family, personal or business emergencies, you will need a passport. Passports are required for all cruise travel to all other International destinations. There is also a rule called the Six Month Passport Validity Rule. This rule states that U.S. Passports should be valid for at least six months after the last day of your trip.
Some cruise line companies require a valid passport no matter where you are traveling. Currently the list is: Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal, Cunard, Fred. Olsen, Hurtigruten, Oceania, P&O, Paul Gauguin, Regent, Seabourn, Silversea, Star Clippers, Swan Hellenic, Voyages of Discovery and Windstar.
Please check directly with your cruise line company for their passport requirement if you do not plan on bringing a valid passport.
Princess Cruises recommends their passengers carry a valid passport. The guidelines for Princess Cruises are subject to change so please check with them directly. Minors traveling with only one adult requires that all passengers have a valid passport. If your cruise requires air travel between the U.S. and the Americas, Canada, the Caribbean, Bermuda or Mexico, you will be required to present a passport when departing from or returning to the U.S. by air. You will be denied boarding of your flight if you do not have a valid passport. For itineraries for which a passport is not required to sail, U.S. and Canadian citizens who do not have a valid passport must provide the following proof of citizenship: Naturalization certificate or an original certified birth certificate from the state/province of their birth (a hospital certificate will not suffice) together with a current and valid government issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license. U.S. citizens may also present a U.S. Passport Card or Enhanced Driver’s License. Neither oral nor written declarations of citizenship will be accepted. Photo identification is not required for those 18 years and younger, but it is encouraged.
Carnival cruise lines does not currently have a set requirement for travelers to have a passport, however they defer to the requirements set by the U.S. Dept of State and any foreign nations visited on the cruise. So be safe and carry a valid passport. Carnival assumes no responsibility for advising guests of proper travel documentation. Carnival requires guests to provide proper travel documentation in order to travel. Carnival assumes no responsibility for advising guests of Immigration requirements.
Norwegian Cruise Line strongly recommends all guests to obtain a passport for their voyage on any Norwegian Cruise Line vessel. A valid passport is required for travel to Europe and trans-Atlantic destinations. In some cases, a tourist visa may also be required. You will not need a passport when you sail on any Hawaii inter-island cruise. For destinations in the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Alaska, Mexican Riviera, Or Canada & New England Cruises, you may sail with either a valid passport, proof of citizenship and a valid government-issued photo I.D. (driver’s license with a photo), or any other WHTI compliant document.
DIsney Cruises recommends their passengers to carry a valid U.S. passport. Guests without proper documentation may be denied boarding. The guidelines for Disney Cruises are based on government regulations, which are subject to change at any time.
Royal Caribbean International strongly recommends that all guests travel with a valid passport during their cruise.