Do I need a passport to go on a cruise?
So you’ve booked your cruise, paid your deposit, and now have just one burning question on your lips: do you need to apply for a passport?
The answer is, it depends. A passport is not always required, but it is always recommended. We’ve created this useful guide on passports and cruising.
When is a passport required for cruising?
If your cruise begins or ends in a foreign country, if you’ll be taking any international flights, or if you’re not a U.S. citizen, you’ll need a passport to travel. Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the end of your trip.
Getting a passport is one of the best investments in travel you can make. Most passports are valid for ten years, so once you receive yours, you can look forward to a decade of worry-free travel all over the world.
Not all cruises require passports
On certain closed-loop (round-trip) itineraries, U.S. citizens do not need a passport to cruise. If your cruise:
- Starts and ends in the same U.S. port
- Travels only to destinations in Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, or Bermuda
- Does not involve any international flights
Then you may use a different form of identification. You will need:
- A government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license
- Proof of citizenship, such as an original birth certificate, a certified copy of your birth certificate, or a passport card
Be sure to bring both documents with you so you can prove both your identification and your citizenship.
No passport required for domestic cruises
If you go on a cruise that does not leave the United States, such as a Hawaii cruise or American river cruise, you do not need a passport to travel.
If your Alaska cruise starts or ends in a Canadian port, you will need a valid passport to travel. If it starts and ends in the U.S., a passport isn’t required, but it may make debarkation go more quickly and smoothly if you plan on going ashore when the ship calls in Canada. The same goes for when you’re returning to the United States at the end of your cruise – it’s not required, but it’s helpful.
Passports: Added security and peace of mind
Even if your cruise itself does not require a passport, you may need a passport to enter some of the destinations you visit on your cruise. If you plan to purchase alcohol or tobacco or go to a casino while ashore, your U.S. driver’s license may not be accepted as identification. A passport is the only form of ID that is recognized all over the world.
Dreamlines highly recommends getting a passport before you go on a cruise. A passport is your key to international identification, simpler airport transfers, and additional peace of mind in case the unexpected occurs.
As of 2019, U.S. citizens can travel to 186 countries without a visa. To find out if you’ll need a visa to enter any of the destinations on your cruise, as well as any vaccination requirements or active travel alerts, look up each destination with the U.S. Department of State.
Dreamlines also recommends reading the Department of State’s recommendations for cruise ship passengers.