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Your Guide to Passport Requirements for Cruises

“Do you need a passport to go on a cruise?” is a question many vacationers have. One of the most appealing aspects of a cruise is that it allows individuals to easily travel from one country to another. However, travelers need to be aware of the ports of call their cruise ships will be visiting. This information indicates whether or not individuals need to apply for a passport before their cruises begin.

A US passport is a federally recognized document that you must present when you go abroad. Whether you travel via land, sea or air, you should be prepared to show these documents to foreign governments. As a result, you need to submit a passport application and receive your card or book if your cruise ship docks on a different country’s shores. The sections below provide specific examples of when you may or may not need a passport for a cruise.

Are there any no passport cruise options?

You may want to take a no passport cruise. This means you do not need to present federal identification to board the ship. This option is popular if you do not have a US passport card or book and do not want to apply for one. Fortunately, there are various locations you can cruise to if you do not have a passport. If you are uncertain about which cruises require passports, remember to look at where the ships dock. If your cruise stops in a foreign country, you will likely need a valid US passport to board the ship.

Conversely, you do not need to file a US passport application form if your cruise only sails to a state or U.S. territory. Therefore, if you travel to the following destinations and do not stop anywhere else, you may not need a passport:

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Do I need a US passport for a closed loop cruise?

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Many travelers wonder if they need to visit a US passport office before they go on a closed loop cruise. This term refers to cruises that begin and end at the same U.S. port. Many travelers believe they do not need valid passports for these trips. However, this is not always the case for cruises that make stops in foreign countries. While U.S. citizens may technically be able to re-enter the United States with proof of citizenship, they generally need federal passports to visit foreign countries.

For these reasons, individuals should confirm passport entry requirements with the countries they plan on visiting. This will help travelers to determine what documentation they need when cruising to a specific destination. Regardless, it is wise for all cruisers to take a US passport with them on their trips. With this document, travelers are more prepared if an emergency occurs when they are on the water.