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Here's when you need (and don't need) a passport to cruise.

It's the type of sailing – closed-loop or open-loop – that largely determines whether or not you need a passport to cruise.

Do You Need a Passport for a Cruise?

Passports on a map showing cruise lanes.

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A passport isn't always required for cruising.

To determine whether or not you need a passport to cruise, you first need to figure out if the itinerary is closed-loop or open-loop (also known as open-jaw).

Closed-loop cruise: A closed-loop cruise typically doesn't require a passport since it begins and ends in the same U.S. port (though there are some exceptions to this rule).

Example: Royal Caribbean International 's seven-night Western Caribbean & Perfect Day cruise stops in several countries – the Bahamas, Jamaica, Haiti and Grand Cayman – but the itinerary is considered closed-loop because it starts and ends in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Open-loop cruise: An open-loop cruise begins in one U.S. port and ends in a different U.S. port.

Example: Carnival Cruise Line 's 16-day Panama Canal from Seattle itinerary is not considered closed-loop because it departs from Seattle and completes its journey in New Orleans.

All of the above regulations have been determined by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative: a plan by the departments of State and Homeland Security that determines which documents are acceptable for proving identity and citizenship when entering the United States.

Where to cruise without a passport

There are several destinations where you can cruise without a passport on a closed-loop sailing. They include the following:

  • The Bahamas

When looking at cruises to these locations, be mindful of the home ports. The Bahamas, Mexico, Bermuda, the Caribbean and Canada are all foreign ports, which means they only qualify for the passport exception if they are a stop along your cruise itinerary . If the cruise originates in any of these countries, it is likely you will need a passport.

Since Alaska, Hawaii and New England are all U.S. destinations, any closed-loop routes departing from these locations will not require a passport. However, keep in mind that it can be hard to find closed-loop cruises originating in Hawaii or Alaska.

To find closed-loop itineraries for a Hawaiian voyage or Alaskan cruise , try searching for sailings departing from major cities on the West Coast, like Seattle or Los Angeles . By contrast, quite a few closed-loop cruises leave from New England ports, but they are often marketed as Canadian cruises.

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When you need a passport for closed-loop cruises

Some cruise itineraries include foreign ports that require a passport for disembarkation. This is most commonly an issue for travelers on a closed-loop Caribbean cruise. Barbados , Guadeloupe , Haiti, Martinique , St. Barts , and Trinidad and Tobago all require U.S. citizens to present a valid passport to disembark and enter the country, despite WHTI regulations not requiring a passport for these destinations. Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private island , is an exception and does not require a passport despite its location in Haiti.

If your itinerary includes a country requiring a U.S. passport, your cruise line will require you to have the passport at check-in. Note that your passport must not expire within six months of your arrival in a foreign country or else it won't be considered valid for international travel.

Read: The Easiest Way to Renew Your Passport

Acceptable forms of ID

All travelers – U.S. citizens and foreign nationals alike – must present documents that show identity and citizenship when entering the United States. A U.S. passport can show both. If you don't have one or don't want to bring one, be aware that you may need to present more than one document.

U.S. citizens 16 and older

If you're a U.S. citizen age 16 or older sailing on a closed-loop cruise without your passport, you will need a government-issued photo ID like a driver's license. In addition, you must present a document that proves your U.S. citizenship. These include:

  • Passport card
  • State-issued enhanced driver's license (EDL)
  • Government-issued birth certificate
  • Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST)
  • American Indian Card (Form I-872) or Enhanced Tribal ID Card

The Trusted Traveler Programs are risk-based programs to facilitate the entry of travelers who have been vetted and preapproved. Most of these programs will provide you with a machine-readable card that allows you to pass through border checkpoints quickly. Keep in mind, some of these IDs are only available to travelers 16 and older.

Read: TSA Precheck vs. Global Entry

U.S. citizens younger than 16

U.S. citizens younger than 16 are only required to present proof of citizenship, such as one of the following documents:

  • Original, notarized or certified copy of their government-issued birth certificate
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by U.S. Department of State
  • Certificate of Naturalization issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Read: How to Get a Passport for Kids

Non-U.S. citizens

If you are a lawful permanent resident (or LPR) of the United States, you are required to present a permanent resident card or other valid evidence of permanent residence status.

Non-U.S. citizens, with the exception of Canadians and Mexicans, are not subject to passport exceptions, so a valid passport will need to be provided. Canadian citizens can present a valid passport, Enhanced Driver's License or Trusted Traveler Program card. Mexican citizens must present a passport with a visa or a Border Crossing Card.

Unacceptable forms of ID

While most common forms of identification are accepted, there are a few exceptions. U.S. military identification cards and U.S. Merchant Mariner documents are valid forms of identification, but only when traveling on official orders or in conjunction with official maritime business, so it is unlikely they will be accepted when traveling on a cruise.

Here are some other documents that will not be accepted as proof of citizenship:

  • Voter registration cards
  • Social Security cards
  • Baptismal papers
  • Hospital certificates of birth (for anyone older than a newborn)

It is important to note that many of the permitted forms of identification, such as a passport card or EDL, are only accepted at land and sea border crossings. Unforeseen circumstances, such as a medical air evacuation, may cause you to return to the U.S. by air travel. In this case, these documents won't be accepted when you try to reenter at the border crossing.

To avoid extra delays in your return to the U.S. following unforeseen travel complications, the Department of State recommends that everyone taking a cruise from the United States carry a valid passport book in case of emergency.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Erin Vasta has traveled extensively to international destinations, gaining a deep knowledge of travel regulations in the process. Her expertise in this area has saved her family and friends from unnecessary travel delays and ensured stress-free trips through border security in nearly 15 countries. To write this article, Vasta used her international travel experience and research skills.

You might also be interested in:

  • The Top Passport Holders
  • Cruise Packing List: Essentials to Bring
  • Safe at Sea: The Best Cruise Insurance

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carnival cruise lines do you need a passport

Guide to Cruise Passport Policies for U.S. Travelers

  • Laura Soper

a cruise ship docked at an international port

Embarking on a cruise is an exhilarating experience, a perfect way to combine international travel, daily entertainment, and opportunities for relaxation—without having to worry about the logistics and challenges of air and land travel.

Cruises offer a unique opportunity for travelers to experience multiple destinations all in a single vacation. However, this also means adhering to the diverse entry and exit regulations of each country visited.

For U.S. citizens, there are specific passport and travel document policies tied to both the cruise line and destination that must be adhered to for a smooth vacation. Our guide aims to explain these requirements, preparing you for potential emergencies and ensuring you’re well-equipped for cruise travel.

We’ll also spotlight the most sought-after cruise lines among American travelers , delving into what sets each one apart, their distinctive offerings, and the travel documents you’ll need for a hassle-free voyage.

In this guide, we will explore all these detailed elements of cruise travel to make sure you understand exactly what you need to know for your upcoming vacation on the seas.

Table of Contents

Do you need a passport for a cruise.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a set answer to this question. Whether you need a passport for a cruise can be both yes and no —it largely depends on the specifics of your cruise .

If you’re embarking on a closed-loop cruise, which starts and ends at the same U.S. port, U.S. citizens might not need a passport. However, for cruises that begin or end in foreign ports, a passport is typically required.

The cruise line you’re traveling with may also have its own documentation requirements, which can include a passport book or passport card regardless of the itinerary.

Furthermore, even if your cruise doesn’t require a passport, the international destinations you visit might. Some countries mandate a passport for entry, regardless of how you arrive—land, air, or sea.

So, while a passport may not always be necessary for a cruise, it’s a good idea to carry one for maximum flexibility.

Always check with your cruise line and the countries on your itinerary to understand the specific requirements.

Let’s get into the details of the different types of cruises and the general travel requirements to help you better understand the travel documents you will need for your voyage.

Understanding the Basics of Cruise Travel Documentation

The need for a passport during cruise travel is primarily determined by the nature of the cruise— specifically, whether it’s a closed-loop or open-loop cruise.

Closed-Loop Cruises

A closed-loop cruise starts and ends at the same U.S. port. For instance, a week-long cruise around the Western Caribbean & Perfect Day , which begins and ends in Miami, Florida, is a closed-loop cruise. It visits several countries like the Bahamas, Jamaica, Haiti, and Grand Cayman, but returns to the original U.S. port.

Passport books are typically not required for closed-loop cruises, U.S. citizens can usually exit and enter the United States with a birth certificate and government-issued ID (such as a driver’s license); however, every cruise line has a strict set of required travel documents that guests must present and carry during their voyage. For specific travel requirements, it is always best to check with the cruise line.

Open-Loop Cruises

On the other hand, open-loop cruises always require a valid U.S. passport for American travelers. Open-loop cruises start in one U.S. port and conclude in a different U.S. port. An example would be a 16-day Panama Canal cruise that sets sail from Seattle and ends its journey in New Orleans.  Open-loop cruises require guests to present and carry a valid passport book with (typically) at least 6 months of validity remaining after the last date of their cruise.

Popular Cruise Lines and Their Passport Policies

Setting sail on a cruise is an exciting getaway, offering an abundance of memorable experiences and opportunities for serene relaxation against stunning ocean views. As you plan your voyage, a top priority must be to acquaint yourself with the necessary travel documents and passport rules of the leading cruise lines .

Each cruise line has specific guidelines to ensure guests can enjoy a smooth, enjoyable journey and make the most of their travel itineraries.

Below, we outline the passport rules for American citizens and required travel documents for the most popular cruise lines.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line , often hailed as “America’s Cruise Line,” is a leading figure in the world of cruising. Established in 1972, it has since evolved into the most favored cruise line globally. The company boasts a fleet of 26 ships, each offering unforgettable vacation experiences.

Carnival Cruise Lines currently offers 13 cruise destinations for guests to choose from. Each cruise is packed with a wide array of entertainment choices , from stage shows and live music to deck parties and casinos , ensuring fun-filled days and nights. 

Travel Requirements

The cruise type determines the travel document requirements for American travelers:

  • Open-loop cruises: These cruises start at one U.S. port and finish at a different one. Guests must present and carry a passport book that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the end date of their cruise.
  • a boarding pass, and
  • a government-issued photo ID if they are 16 years or older (such as a driver’s license)

There are some exceptions to these general rules. Some cruises might include stops at foreign ports that require a valid passport book to leave the ship. Also, if a cruise starts or ends in a foreign country, including Canada, or if it starts and ends at different U.S. ports, a valid passport book is always required .

Please note that if the cruise includes a visit to Colombia or Greenland, a passport book that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the end of travel is required .

  • an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) , 
  • a government-issued birth certificate, or
  • a valid passport book

Passport Requirements and Validity for American Citizens and Children

Carnival Cruise Line strongly advises having a valid passport book while traveling . A passport book is not only the most reliable form of identification but if guests unexpectedly need to fly to or from the U.S. during their cruise, not having a passport book could cause big problems and delays.

  • Do you need a passport in a hurry? Expedite your passport in as little as 24-48 hours !

Visa Requirements

Requirements for travel visas depend on your cruise destinations. All guests are responsible for obtaining appropriate visas to cruise. Check with the embassy or consular offices of the destination countries for more information.

  • Need a travel visa ? Find out how to get your travel visa— fast!

It’s always a good idea to check with Carnival Cruise Line or your travel agency for the most up-to-date information. For more information on travel requirements for Carnival Cruise Lines, visit the What travel documents do I need to bring? page for a complete explanation.

Royal Caribbean International

Founded in 1968, Royal Caribbean International is a leading cruise line brand and a subsidiary of the Royal Caribbean Group. Based in Miami, it’s the largest cruise line by revenue and the second-largest by passenger count.

The company boasts a fleet of 28 ships, including the world’s five largest cruise vessels. Royal Caribbean Cruises journeys to over 300 destinations in more than 60 countries across 6 continents . They provide a plethora of onboard activities , top-notch dining options , captivating entertainment , and luxurious accommodations that are tailored to both adults and families .

For American travelers, the following travel documents are required:

  • Open-loop cruises: These cruises start and end at different U.S. ports, oftentimes these cruises embark or disembark in a foreign country. For these cruises, guests must present and carry a passport book that is valid for at least 6 months after the day the cruise ends.
  • a government-issued birth certificate, and
  • a laminated government-issued picture ID (such as a driver’s license)

While U.S. citizens aren’t currently required to have passports on closed-loop cruises, Royal Caribbean International highly recommends travelers carry a valid passport book as it is the most reliable form of identification. Additionally, if an unforeseen situation arises where guests have to take a flight to or from the U.S. during their cruise, not possessing a valid passport book could result in substantial delays and challenges.

  • Do you need a passport fast? Expedite your passport in as little as 24-48 hours !

Guests are responsible for figuring out and getting all required travel visas before their cruise starts. Travelers should reach out to the embassy or consular services of each country they’ll visit on their cruise to understand specific visa requirements, details, forms, and fees. 

  • Need a travel visa for your cruise? Visit our guide to getting your travel visa expedited .

These requirements may change over time, so it’s always a good idea to check with Royal Caribbean or your travel agency for the most up-to-date information. For more in-depth information regarding required travel documents for getting on board Royal Caribbean International, see the Getting Onboard with The Right Travel Documents page.

Norwegian Cruise Line

For over half a century, Norwegian Cruise Line has been a trailblazer in the global cruise industry. It operates three brands: Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Together, these brands boast a fleet of 28 ships with nearly 60,000 berths, offering travel itineraries to more than 490 destinations across the globe.

Aboard their ships, guests are treated to a diverse array of dining options , both complementary and specialty. Entertainment includes a variety of live music and comedy to Broadway-style shows .

Accommodations cater to all types of travelers. Their Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises , in particular, are renowned for their luxury .

For American travelers taking cruises aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line, the travel requirements vary depending on the type of cruise:

  • Open-Loop Cruises: For these cruises, passport books must be valid for at least 6 months after the last day of travel.
  • U.S. state-issued original or certified copy of their birth certificate (hospital certificates are not acceptable), 
  • a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization, and
  • a government-issued photo ID (such as a driver’s license)

Children under 16: U.S. or Canadian children under 16 are exempt from the passport requirement for land and sea border crossings. Instead of a passport book, they can use:

  • a U.S. state-issued original or certified copy of their birth certificate, 
  • a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or 
  • a Certificate of Naturalization as proof of citizenship for entry into the U.S. by land or by sea

Even though passports aren’t currently required for U.S. citizens on closed-loop cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line strongly recommends traveling with a valid passport book . This is because a passport book is the most reliable form of identification. Also, if travelers need to fly to or from the U.S. unexpectedly during their cruise, they may face significant delays and complications without a valid passport book.

  • Visit our expert guides to learn how to get a new passport or passport renewal quickly.

Regarding travel visas , each traveler must check with the embassy or consulate offices for travel visa requirements and get the necessary visas. This applies to all countries they plan to visit on their journey, including any countries they might stop at during connecting flights.

  • Visit our guide to expediting travel visas and get your passport in time for your cruise.

Please note that these requirements can change, so it’s always a good idea to check the latest information on the Norwegian Cruise Line’s website before your trip.

Princess Cruises

Established in 1965, Princess Cruises , a prominent name in the cruise industry, began its journey with a single ship heading to Mexico. Today, it boasts a fleet of 15 state-of-the-art ships, offering a variety of onboard amenities and top-notch service, serving millions of passengers annually. 

Princess Cruises provides a global experience, covering over 100 countries across all seven continents , including North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. It offers a wide range of travel itineraries, from a week to over 3 months , visiting more than 380 ports and including over 100 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in their destinations.

For U.S. citizens traveling aboard Princess Cruises, travel requirements vary depending on the type of cruise:

  • Open-Loop Cruises: A valid passport book is required for all international itineraries , including Africa, Asia, Australia & New Zealand, Europe, India, Central and South America, Panama Canal (partial and full transit), Caribbean (any sailings that visit Martinique or Guadeloupe), South Pacific & Tahiti, and World Cruises. The passport’s required validity is based on the destination; however, it is strongly advised to carry a passport with at least 6 months of validity remaining after the date of return.
  • a Permanent Resident Card (ARC/I-55 card), 
  • a temporary ARC/I-55 card, and 
  • a valid government-issued photo identification (such as a driver’s license), or
  • a passport book with an “ARC” stamp
  • U.S. passport card , 
  • U.S.-issued Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) , 
  • U.S.-issued Identification Card (issued to minors and non-drivers) 

In all cases, traveling with a valid passport book is highly recommended , as unexpected situations may arise requiring you to leave the ship. Passports should be valid for at least 6 months beyond the end of your travel and contain blank pages for endorsements and visas. Princess Cruises also recommends carrying a second government-issued photo ID while in port.

  • Expedite a new passport application or a passport renewal in less than a week !

If needed, U.S. citizens can find travel visa requirements in the ‘Notices’ section of their Travel Summary . Visas can be acquired directly from the embassy or consulate of the countries to be visited. The requirements for visas and other documents can differ based on the destination and may change without any advance notice. Guests should double-check the visa requirements with the consulate 14 to 30 days before the cruise starts .

  • Expediting travel visas can ensure you get the travel documents you need in time for your cruise.

Travel requirements are subject to change. It is imperative to check for the most current information by visiting Princess Cruises’ FAQs: Travel Document Requirements page before your trip.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line , a branch of The Walt Disney Company, has been providing unique oceanic journeys since 1996. It boasts a fleet of 6 luxury liners, each offering state-of-the-art amenities , exceptional service , and exclusive Disney activities . The fleet, which includes Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Wish, and the latest addition, Disney Treasure, provides a range of onboard experiences from thrilling water slides and themed dining to Broadway-style shows and children’s clubs making it the most popular cruise line for families and Disney fans alike.

The cruise line operates in over 100 countries across all 7 continents , with voyages ranging from 2 to 15 nights . It is acclaimed for its meticulous attention to detail , playful character interactions , and creative dining experiences.

American citizens traveling aboard Disney Cruise Lines must follow the travel requirements outlined by their specific type of cruise:

  • Open-Loop Cruises: For all international itineraries, U.S. citizens must have a valid passport book with at least 6 months of validity remaining after the end of the trip.
  • a valid U.S. passport book, 
  • a U.S. passport card , or
  • a Trusted Traveler Card (NEXUS, FAST).

U.S. citizens aged 15 and younger can travel with:

  • a valid U.S. Passport ,
  • U.S. Passport Card , 
  • a Trusted Traveler Card (NEXUS, FAST), or
  • a state-issued birth certificate, and
  • Domestic Cruises: The same rules as closed-loop cruises apply.

In all cases, Disney Cruise Line recommends guests carry a valid passport book during their voyage. A passport is not just a dependable means of identification, but it’s also crucial in case guests need to unexpectedly travel by air to or from the U.S. during their cruise. The absence of a passport could lead to significant issues and delays. Passport books should be valid for at least 3 months or 6 months after the end of the cruise , depending on the destination countries’ requirements. Disney Cruise Lines also suggests travelers carry a second government-issued photo ID while in port.

  • Do you need passports soon? You can expedite your passport and passports for children and be ready for travel in a week or less!

As for travel visas , it is the guest’s responsibility to identify and obtain all the necessary travel visas before embarking on the cruise.

  • Our guide to expediting travel visas can ensure your whole family is ready for their Disney cruise.

It’s important to remember that these requirements may vary, so it’s recommended to verify the most recent information on the Disney Cruise Line’s website or consult with the relevant authorities or travel agent before your journey.

Holland America Line

Holland America Line , founded in 1873, operates 11 ships offering over 500 cruises to 470+ ports in 98 countries . Their cruises range from short trips to 128-day voyages , covering all continents . They’re known for their quality service , excellent food , elegant decor, and diverse entertainment . Their ships feature modern amenities like high-tech shows and extensive art collections . Holland America Line is lauded for catering to multi-generational groups making it an ideal cruise line for families .

The travel requirements for American citizens aboard Holland America Line depend on the type of cruise and the destination countries: 

  • Open-Loop Cruises: Valid passport books are mandatory for cruises that start in one U.S. port and end in another. Passport books must have at least 6 months of validity remaining after the end date of the cruise.

For Holland America cruises that stop at islands in the French West Indies, a valid passport book is required, regardless of the departure port.

  • proof of citizenship (e.g.,  an original or certified copy of a government-issued birth certificate and a government-issued photo ID)
  • a valid passport book, or 
  • a passport card  
  • a standard government-issued photo ID (such as a valid driver’s license)
  • Real ID, 
  • permanent resident card, or

U.S. citizens under 16 are exempt from the passport requirement for land and sea border crossings. Instead of a passport, children can use an original or certified copy of a U.S. state-issued birth certificate . However, when minors are traveling with only one adult, Holland America requires all passengers to have a valid passport book .

Regardless of cruise type, Holland America strongly advises all guests to carry a passport book that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the end of their travel date . This is because passengers who need to fly to or from the U.S. unexpectedly during their cruise will likely face significant delays and complications related to booking airline tickets and entering the U.S. if they do not have a valid passport.

  • Departing soon? Expedite your new passport application or passport renewal today.

Travel visa requirements differ based on the destination. It is the individual guest’s responsibility to confirm travel visa requirements with the destination’s embassy or consulate .

  • Our expert guide to expediting travel visas has all the information you need to get your visa in time for your trip.

Please remember that these are general guidelines and specific requirements may change based on the exact cruise itinerary. Always check the most recent information before your trip. For more detailed information, you can visit the Holland America Line’s official website’s Identification Requirements page .

Regardless of your chosen cruise line, the key to a smooth and hassle-free voyage lies in understanding and compliance with the travel document requirements and U.S. passport policies of your chosen cruise line . It’s evident that all cruise lines strongly advise guests to carry a valid passport during their voyage , as passports are the most dependable form of identification. They are also necessary for entry into destination countries and in case you need to fly back to the United States . By being well-prepared and knowledgeable about these specific guidelines, you can ensure a smooth sailing experience on your ocean adventure.

Preparing for Your Cruise: Passport Tips and Best Practices

Taking a cruise abroad is an unforgettable experience and an amazing way to see the world. To help you better prepare for your voyage, here are a few passport tips and best practices to follow when planning your international cruise .

First-Time Passport Applicants

If you’re new to the passport application process, we can help! Our guide on How to Obtain a U.S. Passport offers essential step-by-step instructions on the entire process from filling out the right application form and gathering your supporting documents to choosing the right passport service and finding the best passport application acceptance location that fits your needs. 

Need your new passport in a hurry? We can help with that too! Our instructions on How to Expedite a New Passport Application: A Complete Guide is a comprehensive manual on everything you need to know and do to get your new passport—fast! 

Currently, routine passport processing is about 6 to 8 weeks , expedited processing takes about 2 to 3 weeks and rushed expedited processing is possible within 14 days .

Visit our page, How Long Does It Take to Get a Passport? , for the most up-to-date application processing times.

Don’t miss out on making the most of your cruise’s travel itinerary, get your passport book now and get excited to explore the world!  

U.S. Passport Expiration Requirements for Cruises

When a valid U.S. passport book is required, the validity of the passport book is recommended with either 3 months or 6 months (most common) of validity remaining beyond the last day of the cruise. 

  • What does that mean? It means that the expiration date on your passport book must be at least 3 or 6 months past the last day of your cruise. 
  • 3-Month Rule – Country Requirements & More
  • 6-Month Rule for U.S. Passports

If your passport book does not meet this requirement, you may be denied boarding or entry into certain countries, even if your cruise ship is your primary means of travel. Furthermore, you could be denied entry when returning to the United States if you had to return by air. Therefore, it’s crucial to check your passport’s expiration date well in advance of your cruise departure date.

Travel Requirements for Cruises with Kids

Children are not permitted to travel alone on a cruise. Cruise line policies vary, but generally, children (under 18 years old) must be accompanied by an approved adult (21 years or older) within the same travel group . To verify age requirements and rules for minors, check the age policies of the cruise line you are traveling with.

If you’re an adult traveling with a minor (under 16 years old)—by land, air, or sea—you must be able to prove that you are the parent or legal guardian of the child. Otherwise, you must present and carry a notarized minor travel consent form that has been signed by the minor’s parents or legal guardians . For more information, see our Free Minor Travel Consent Form page. 

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection , some countries require a notarized consent letter for children traveling without both parents or a legal guardian . It’s important to check the specific requirements of the destination country by contacting its embassy or consulate in the U.S.

In some cases, children aboard international cruises are required to have a valid passport book . If your child needs a U.S. passport, follow our complete guide on how to get a passport for a minor in just 3 steps .

Need a child’s passport sooner? Find out how to expedite your child’s passport . 

Taking a Cruise As A Group Getaway

International cruises are a wonderful getaway for families and groups of friends. Many cruises have such a wide array of activities and experiences—not to mention unforgettable destinations—that there’s always something for everyone in your party to enjoy. 

While traveling abroad with a group can create lasting memories, organizing such trips can be challenging—especially when everyone needs passports. The passport process can be complex and time-consuming. In our experience, the easiest and most convenient solution is to hire a passport expediting service .  

Passport expediters are professionals who specialize in speeding up the passport application process . They help group travelers get their passports quickly and efficiently, making them a valuable resource for those traveling on short notice or those who wish to avoid the complexities of the passport process. A reliable passport courier can manage the logistical challenges and multiple appointments required for obtaining numerous passports on a tight schedule. A credible passport expeditor can make planning a group cruise a lot smoother and less stressful.

The Benefits Of Carrying A Passport On A Cruise

Passport book requirements vary on the type of cruise you take; however carrying a passport while cruising, even when it’s not explicitly required, provides several advantages:

  • Simplified Travel: A passport book, being a globally accepted travel document, streamlines the process of getting on and off the cruise ship. It’s a straightforward way to prove your identity and citizenship, making the embarkation and disembarkation procedures smoother and faster.
  • Quicker Customs Clearance: When it comes to going through customs, having a passport book can speed up the process. Customs officials are familiar with passport books, and having one can expedite your passage through these checkpoints compared to using other, multiple forms of identification.
  • Prepared for Emergencies: Unforeseen situations or emergencies can happen. An urgent situation might necessitate disembarking in a foreign country and flying back home. In such scenarios, having a valid passport book is required. Other forms of identification and even a passport card cannot take the place of a valid US passport book. It’s the most reliable form of identification for international travel and is mandatory for international airline travel.
  • Greater Flexibility: Some countries mandate a passport for entry, regardless of whether you’re arriving by air or sea. Possessing a passport book offers you the freedom and flexibility to explore all the international stops on your cruise itinerary without worrying about entry requirements.

While some cruises may not mandate a passport, it’s always smart planning to carry one. A valid passport acts as your ticket to a hassle-free and enjoyable cruising experience.

Passport Policies for Cruises – FAQs

Q: Do infants and children need passports for cruises?

A: The requirements for travel documents for minors, including infants, largely depend on the type of travel and the cruise line’s specific age policies and travel document requirements.  

For closed-loop cruises, guests of all ages do not typically need a passport to travel. However, valid passports are required for open-loop cruises and international cruises that stop at ports outside the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Some cruise lines, like Holland America and Princess Cruises, require any minor traveling with only one adult to carry a valid passport. Please check with your specific cruise line to confirm travel documents and age requirements for infants and children.

If you need to obtain a passport for an infant, see our guide: How To Get A Passport For An Infant: A Complete Guide To Baby Passports .

Q: What are the risks of cruising without a passport?

A: Cruising without a passport, while sometimes possible, carries several risks. 

  • Traveling without a passport can limit your options ; you may not be able to explore certain ports that require a passport.
  • Some countries mandate a passport for disembarkation , even for cruise ship passengers. 
  • If you miss your cruise due to unexpected events like flight delays, a passport may be needed to join the ship at the next port, or else you could miss your entire vacation.
  • In emergencies that necessitate a return home by air, a passport is required , and without it, you could be stranded abroad.

Therefore, even if a cruise doesn’t require a passport, it’s advisable to have one to avoid these potential issues.

Q: How does the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative affect cruise travelers?

A: The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) impacts cruise travelers, especially those from the U.S. The WHTI requires all travelers to present a valid passport or other approved document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. American citizens can use various approved documents like the U.S. Passport, Passport Card , or Enhanced Driver’s License .

For closed-loop cruises (those starting and ending at the same U.S. port), U.S. citizens can enter the U.S. with a birth certificate and government-issued photo ID. However, a passport may still be needed to enter the countries visited during the cruise.

The WHTI aims to bolster border security while making entry into the U.S. more efficient for U.S. citizens and legitimate international travelers. It’s always advisable to check the specific requirements of your cruise line and the countries you’ll be visiting.

Q: Can I use a passport card instead of a passport book for my cruise?

A: While a passport card can be used for some cruises and in some travel situations, it has limitations:

  • Travel Restrictions: Passport cards are valid only for land and sea travel between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. They’re not valid for international air travel or entry into many foreign countries.
  • Cruise Type: U.S. citizens can use a passport card for closed-loop cruises (those starting and ending at the same U.S. port). But it’s not usable for cruises from international homeports.
  • Emergency Situations: In emergencies requiring a flight home from a foreign port, a passport card isn’t enough. A passport book is mandatory to fly internationally.

Always check your cruise line’s specific travel document requirements for more information on whether a passport card is an acceptable form of identification for your specific cruise.

Q: What is the best way to get a passport for a cruise in 3 weeks?

A: To get a passport in 3 weeks, we highly recommend that you expedite the process . 

Traditional expedited service can take up to 3 weeks —not including mailing times. To skip potential postal service delays, you could make an appointment with a local passport application acceptance center ; however, this option may not get you a passport in 3 weeks. 

Rushed expedited service is a better choice when you have a tight schedule. Rushed service can be completed within 14 days —also not including mailing times. Again, to avoid potential delays with the postal service, you could make an appointment at the nearest Regional Passport Agency .

If neither of these two choices fits your short timeline, we recommend using a trusted professional passport expeditor to get your new passport in as few as 24 to 48 hours . A professional expeditor can easily navigate the passport application process on your behalf and make sure that you get your new passport in time for your trip. 

Q: Do I need a passport for a cruise to Mexico?

A: While a passport book or a passport card is generally required for travel beyond Mexico’s border and for sea travel, there are exceptions. U.S. citizens entering Mexico by sea for short visits to port towns may not need a passport but should have one if traveling beyond these towns.

For closed-loop cruises (starting and ending at the same U.S. port), a passport isn’t required to re-enter the U.S. However, a passport might still be needed depending on the cruise’s other stops and the cruise line’s requirements.

Always check with your specific cruise line for travel document requirements. Find further information on traveling to Mexico by land, air, or sea: Mexico Entry Requirements – Required Travel Documents for Travel to Mexico .

Still have questions? We’re here to help! Contact us for support in preparing for your next voyage!

About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

Fast Track My Passport: Speedy and reliable courier service.

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Do You Need A Passport On Carnival Cruise

carnival cruise lines do you need a passport

Planning a vacation is always an exciting time, but it can also bring about a lot of questions and uncertainties. One question that frequently comes up when booking a Carnival Cruise is whether or not you need a passport. It’s a valid concern, as having the right travel documents in place is crucial for a smooth and stress-free trip. In this article, we will address the common query of whether or not a passport is required on a Carnival Cruise , providing you with the necessary information to ensure you’re fully prepared for your upcoming adventure.

Table of Contents

Purpose of the Article

Clarifying the need for a passport on carnival cruise.

If you’re planning to embark on a Carnival Cruise vacation, one question that may be on your mind is whether or not you need a passport. In this article, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the requirements, benefits, and alternatives to having a passport for your Carnival Cruise adventure. So let’s dive in and clarify any doubts you may have!

Benefits of Having a Passport

Having a passport can bring numerous advantages when going on a Carnival Cruise. Firstly, a passport is a universally recognized form of identification that allows you to travel to various destinations around the world. Additionally, possessing a passport enables you to have a smoother and more efficient travel experience. Furthermore, a passport can prove invaluable in emergency situations, providing you with the necessary documentation to receive assistance from your country’s embassy or consulate.

Alternatives to a Passport

While a passport is highly recommended for international travel, there are alternative forms of identification that you can consider for your Carnival Cruise. These alternatives include a U.S. Passport Card, an Enhanced Driver’s License, and a combination of your birth certificate and government-issued ID. Though these options may be viable, it’s important to note that they come with limitations and may not provide the same level of convenience as a passport.

Requirements for Cruise Travel

Basic travel documentation.

Before embarking on your Carnival Cruise, it’s essential to ensure that you have the necessary travel documentation. At a minimum, you will need a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or state ID card. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that a passport provides the most comprehensive and widely accepted form of identification. Therefore, having a passport is highly recommended for your Carnival Cruise.

Passport vs. Passport Card

When it comes to choosing between a passport and a passport card, it’s crucial to understand the differences. While a passport card is more compact and less expensive than a passport, it is only valid for land and sea travel to certain countries, such as Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. Conversely, a passport allows for both land and air travel to any destination worldwide. Therefore, if you have any plans for future international travel beyond your Carnival Cruise, it’s advisable to opt for a passport.

Traveling to Different Destinations

One of the most exciting aspects of a Carnival Cruise is the opportunity to explore multiple destinations. However, it’s important to be aware that certain countries and regions have specific entry requirements. Some destinations require a passport for entry, regardless of whether you arrived by sea or air. To ensure a hassle-free trip, it’s advisable to have a passport for your Carnival Cruise, as it provides the most inclusive form of identification for traveling to different destinations.

The Importance of a Passport

Identification and verification.

For any international travel, including a Carnival Cruise, having a passport is crucial for identification and verification purposes. Your passport acts as an official government document that confirms your nationality and identity. It provides essential information such as your full name, date of birth, and a recent photograph. These details enable immigration officials to verify your identity and ensure security while you’re traveling.

International Travel Considerations

When embarking on a Carnival Cruise, you may have the opportunity to visit various countries and regions. Having a passport allows you to make the most of this experience by enabling you to enter different countries hassle-free. Without a passport, you may encounter limitations, as some countries require a passport for entry regardless of your method of arrival. By having a passport, you can fully immerse yourself in the cultural diversity that awaits you during your Carnival Cruise.

Emergency Situations

Unexpected circumstances can arise during your Carnival Cruise, and having a passport can prove invaluable in emergency situations. In the event of a medical emergency or unforeseen circumstances, a passport allows you to swiftly and easily establish your identity and citizenship. It also facilitates communication and coordination with your country’s embassy or consulate, ensuring that you receive the necessary assistance and support.

Cruise Policies and Passport Requirements

Carnival cruise line’s passport policy.

Carnival Cruise Line strongly recommends that all guests have a valid passport for their cruise vacation. While a passport is not mandatory, it simplifies the embarkation and disembarkation process and allows for a more seamless travel experience. However, if you do not have a passport, you will need to provide alternative forms of identification, such as a birth certificate, along with a government-issued photo ID. It’s important to review Carnival Cruise Line’s specific passport requirements and policies to ensure compliance with their guidelines.

Other Cruise Lines and Their Policies

Different cruise lines may have varying passport policies and requirements, so it’s crucial to research and understand the specific rules of the cruise line you plan to travel with. Some cruise lines may have stricter policies and insist on a passport for all travelers, while others may accept alternative forms of identification. To avoid any last-minute complications or surprises, it’s advisable to thoroughly review the passport policies of your chosen cruise line well in advance.

Cruise Destinations Requiring a Passport

Certain cruise destinations have strict entry requirements and mandate that all visitors, regardless of their method of arrival, have a valid passport. These destinations may include countries outside of the Caribbean and Mexico, where a passport is typically required for entry. To ensure a seamless and stress-free journey, it’s best to have a passport that meets the requirements of all potential destinations included in your Carnival Cruise itinerary.

Benefits of Having a Passport on a Carnival Cruise

Flexibility in itinerary changes.

Having a passport provides you with the flexibility to make last-minute changes to your Carnival Cruise itinerary. If unforeseen circumstances arise or if you simply decide to extend your stay in a particular port, a passport allows you to do so without any restrictions. With a passport, you can fully embrace the spontaneity and adventure that a Carnival Cruise has to offer.

Ease of Traveling to Different Destinations

A passport enables you to explore a wide range of destinations during your Carnival Cruise. Whether you’re visiting exotic Caribbean islands, historic European cities, or remote Alaskan fjords, a passport ensures smooth entry and exit at each port of call. It eliminates any potential complications that may arise if a specific destination mandates a passport for entry, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures and breathtaking landscapes you’ll encounter along your journey.

Emergency Situations and Repatriation

While rare, emergency situations can occur during your Carnival Cruise. Whether it’s a medical emergency, a natural disaster, or a geopolitical event, having a passport can make a significant difference in these situations. If the need arises, a passport enables you to quickly establish your identity and citizenship, ensuring your safety and facilitating repatriation if necessary. It’s always better to be prepared for the unforeseen, and having a passport can provide peace of mind.

Alternatives to a Passport for a Carnival Cruise

U.s. passport card.

If you’re considering an alternative to a traditional passport, the U.S. Passport Card is worth exploring. This wallet-sized card is more compact and less expensive than a passport. However, it’s important to note that the U.S. Passport Card is only valid for land and sea travel to certain countries, primarily in North and Central America, including the Caribbean. If you have plans for future international travel beyond your Carnival Cruise or if your itinerary includes destinations that require a passport for entry, a U.S. Passport Card may not be the most suitable option.

Enhanced Driver’s License

Some states offer an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) that serves as an alternative to a passport for land and sea travel to certain countries, including Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. An EDL features a machine-readable barcode and a radio frequency identification chip, providing increased security and efficiency during the embarkation and disembarkation process. This alternative may be ideal if you have no plans for air travel beyond your Carnival Cruise and if your itinerary primarily comprises destinations that accept EDLs.

Birth Certificate and Government-Issued ID

In the absence of a passport or its alternatives, you can still embark on your Carnival Cruise if you possess a birth certificate and a government-issued photo ID. However, it’s important to note that this option comes with limitations. While it may suffice for some destinations or domestic travel, many countries require a passport for entry, irrespective of your method of arrival. Additionally, using these alternative forms of identification may result in a longer and more complex embarkation process.

Considerations for Non-U.S. Citizens

Visa requirements.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, it’s crucial to understand the visa requirements for the countries you plan to visit during your Carnival Cruise. Each country has its own unique visa policies, and it’s essential to comply with these regulations to avoid any complications or potential denial of entry. Researching visa requirements well in advance and consulting with the respective embassies or consulates will ensure that you have all the necessary documentation and permits to enjoy a smooth sailing vacation.

Immigration Processes

Non-U.S. citizens should also be aware of the immigration processes involved when traveling on a Carnival Cruise. It’s important to understand the procedures for embarkation and disembarkation in each port of call, including any immigration checks or customs inspections that may take place. Familiarizing yourself with the necessary documentation, such as a valid passport, visas, and additional identification, will ensure a hassle-free experience throughout your Carnival Cruise.

Consulting with the Cruise Line or a Travel Agent

For non-U.S. citizens who may have specific questions or concerns regarding their Carnival Cruise, it’s advisable to consult with the cruise line or a trusted travel agent. These knowledgeable sources can provide accurate and up-to-date information regarding passport requirements, visa procedures, and any other immigration-related inquiries. Seeking guidance from experienced professionals will ensure that you are well-prepared and can fully enjoy your Carnival Cruise adventure.

Tips and Recommendations

Apply for a passport in advance.

To ensure a stress-free experience, it’s highly recommended to apply for a passport well in advance of your Carnival Cruise. Passport processing times can vary, so be sure to check the current waiting period and plan accordingly. Applying early will eliminate any last-minute rush or potential complications and allow you to embark on your Carnival Cruise with confidence.

Keep Your Passport Secure

While on your Carnival Cruise, it’s crucial to keep your passport safe and secure. Always store it in a designated secure location within your cabin, such as a locked drawer or safe. Avoid carrying it with you unless absolutely necessary, and never leave it unattended in public areas. By taking these precautions, you can protect one of your most vital travel documents and ensure a worry-free vacation.

Consider Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is always a smart investment, particularly when going on a Carnival Cruise. In the event of unforeseen circumstances, such as medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost luggage, travel insurance provides financial coverage and peace of mind. It’s crucial to carefully review the insurance policy’s coverage, including its provisions for passport-related incidents, before making a decision.

In conclusion, while a passport may not be mandatory for a Carnival Cruise, having one offers numerous benefits and peace of mind. A passport serves as a universally recognized form of identification, enabling seamless travel to various destinations. It also provides you with the flexibility to make itinerary changes and assists in emergency situations. However, if you opt for an alternative form of identification, such as a U.S. Passport Card or an Enhanced Driver’s License, it’s essential to consider the limitations and ensure their suitability for your specific Carnival Cruise itinerary. For non-U.S. citizens, understanding and complying with visa and immigration requirements is crucial. By following these tips and recommendations, you can embark on your Carnival Cruise fully prepared and ready to make unforgettable memories. Bon voyage!

[Word count: 1930]

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carnival cruise lines do you need a passport

Booking Procedures

  • Carnival Vacation Protection (CVP)
  • Deposit and Final Payment Guidelines | Forms of Payment
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Travel Documentation: U.S. Citizens

  • Cruises Visiting Skagway, Alaska and Haines, Alaska : Some shore excursions may require a passport if the excursion crosses the border into Canada. The passport book or passport card must be valid for at least six months beyond the completion of travel. 
  • Cruises Visiting Canada : Guests who have committed or been convicted of a crime may not be allowed into Canada - for more information, click here . 
  • Copy of any WHTI compliant document
  • Driver’s License alone (without proof of citizenship)
  • A Mobile/Digital version of a photo ID (Driver's License, Identification Card, etc) is not an acceptable form of identification.
  • Temporary Driver’s License without an affixed photo
  • Hospital certificate, hospital-issued birth notice, live record of birth, Certificate of Live Birth or announcement of birth
  • No Record of Birth certificate: A certificate issued by the Department of Health and Vital Statistics showing that they have no records on this person
  • Voter’s Registration Card
  • Trusted Traveler Program Membership Card (NEXUS/SENTRI/FAST) alone; (may be used as photo ID)
  • Baptismal Papers
  • U.S. Military ID alone (without proof of citizenship; may be used as photo ID)
  • Dependent Military ID that is issued to a spouse or child
  • U.S. Military Discharge Papers
  • Carnival recommends that all guests travel with a passport. The passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the completion of travel.  
  • A passport is highly recommended in the event a guest must fly to a port of call, debark the ship for an emergency during the cruise or allow for an expedited debarkation process. 
  • Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are considered territories of the United States; the passport requirement does not apply to U.S. Citizens traveling to, or returning directly from a U.S. territory. 
  • Visit www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html
  • Expedited passport services are also offered by VisaCentral at www.visacentral.com/carnival
  • or call 877-559-4875 and identify yourself as a Carnival Cruise Line guest.  Mention ‘Carnival Account 75020’ for discounted rates on service fees. 
  • This document will denote both citizenship and identity.
  • The passport card cannot be used for air travel outside the United States but is valid for land and sea travel between the United States and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean region and Bermuda.
  • The following states issue Enhanced Driver's Licenses:  Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington.
  • A Driver's License with only a star in the upper right corner is a Real ID Driver's License and not an Enhanced Driver's License; it cannot be used as a WHTI-compliant document (as proof of citizenship) but can be used as a photo ID.
  • The EDL cannot  be used for air travel outside the United States but is valid for land and sea travel between the United States and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean region and Bermuda.
  • A mobile/digital driver's license is not an acceptable form of photo identification. 
  • For additional information about Enhanced Driver's Licenses and REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses, click here . 
  • The Certificate of U.S. Naturalization (form N-550 or N-570) is a document issued by the U.S. government (USCIS) as proof of a foreign born person who has obtained U.S. citizenship through naturalization (a legal process of obtaining a new nationality).
  • Photo copies of the original document are unacceptable. 
  • * An unexpired government-issued photo ID is required if a photo is not affixed to this WHTI document; a Mobile/Digital version of a photo ID is not an acceptable form of identification.
  • Form I-872 American Indian Card
  • Enhanced Tribal Card (when available)
  • The card cannot be used for air travel and is only valid for land and sea travel between the United States and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean region and Bermuda.
  • Original or copy of the original issued by a government agency (state/county/city) or the Department of Health and Vital Statistics 
  • Must be clear and legible
  • Does not need to be notarized
  • If the guest has laminated their birth certificate, it is acceptable.
  • Birth Certificates from Puerto Rico:  Birth Certificates issued prior to July 1, 2010 are not valid forms of proof of citizenship and are not accepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Guests from Puerto Rico either need to present a WHTI-compliant document OR a validated birth certificate issue after July 1, 2010 AND a government-issued photo ID.
  • This is an acceptable form of citizenship.
  • If adoptive parents of an internationally adopted child were not issued a birth certificate, a Certificate of Citizenship will be accepted. This document is issued once an adoption is finalized.
  • This is an acceptable form of Photo ID.
  • A Temporary Driver’s License with an affixed photo is acceptable for cruise travel.
  • A Driver's Permit is an acceptable form of Photo ID.
  • A U.S. Military ID with an affixed photo is an approved government-issued Photo ID. 
  • This is an acceptable form of Photo ID for guests 16/17/18 years of age.
  • For those about to or recently have been married, we recommend that if the unexpired government-issued ID is in the maiden name, the cruise reservation be made in the maiden name.

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13 things you should do before every cruise

Gene Sloan

You've booked your cruise. You've booked your flights. You've booked your pre- and post-cruise hotels. Now, it's just a matter of counting the days until your on-the-water adventure begins, right?

Well, not quite.

There are many (mostly) little things you still need to do before you begin your journey to the pier to board your ship.

From downloading your cruise line's app and using it to check in for your trip to signing up for ship-based activities in advance, here's our handy checklist of 13 things everyone should do before leaving home for a cruise vacation.

For more cruise guides, news and reviews, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Check in online

Yeah, I know, you were going to do this anyway. But, just in case you weren't: Know that it pays off big time to check in online before your cruise.

There's a lot of paperwork required to check in for a cruise, including (at many cruise lines) filling out documents asking for personal information such as your name, address, gender, date of birth, nationality and even pregnancy status; emergency contacts; and your pre- and post-cruise travel plans. You'll also be asked to set up an onboard account and submit a photo of yourself.

If you do this all in advance online — and many lines now require that you do — you'll be able to board your ship quicker than if you wait to do it at the pier.

Note that in most cases, you can check in online for a cruise many weeks in advance. At Royal Caribbean , the check-in window opens a full 45 days in advance of a sailing. At Carnival Cruise Line , check-in opens 14 days before departure.

Related: 21 tips and tricks that will make your first cruise go smoothly

Check your identification documents

carnival cruise lines do you need a passport

Long before you check in for your cruise, you should take a glance at whatever identification document you're going to use during the check-in process to make sure it hasn't expired — or is even close to expiring.

On many cruise itineraries, you will need a passport , and many countries that cruise lines visit require passports to be valid for at least six months beyond the date you plan to leave the country. Many countries also require at least two blank pages in your passport. If your passport is full of visa stamps, it's time to get a new one, even if it hasn't expired.

Download the cruise app

Many cruise lines now have apps you can download to your smartphone. The apps vary in capabilities, but many will show you a daily list of activities on your ship and everything you have reserved. Many also will let you make restaurant reservations and book shore excursions and other activities.

A few will let you order drinks and other items (think: pizza and beer) to be brought to wherever you happen to be standing. That's pretty cool, right? The best part: The apps will work on board even if you don't pay for a Wi-Fi package.

Some of the apps also will aid you with the check-in process. The Celebrity Cruises app, for instance, lets you check in for a cruise with relative ease. You'll even be able to submit the security photo the cruise line requires using the Celebrity app. The app also will show your Celebrity Xpress boarding pass, so there's no need to print one in advance of heading to the pier.

Related: The best cruise apps to streamline your vacation at sea

Print out your documents

In theory, you don't need to print your cruise boarding pass if you have it on your mobile device, but I still always do — and I recommend you do the same.

I always keep a hard copy of every travel document — including pages that show my itinerary and reservation numbers for related hotel stays and flights — in my carry-on bag.

There are several reasons to do this. One is that you never know when your mobile device will die or have a connectivity issue that results in the document you need not being available. But you might also encounter authorities — an immigration official at a border, for instance — who will want to see hard copies of your itinerary before allowing you to proceed.

Tell friends and family about your trip

It's always a good idea to let at least a few people close to you know you're leaving on a trip. Give them a rough outline of where you're going and tell them how to contact you in an emergency. This might seem like obvious advice, but a reminder never hurts.

I have forgotten to do this at times — and while it's never resulted in a crisis, it has gotten me in trouble with the family.

I found myself in the big-time doghouse in late 2020 with my 75-year-old, always-worries-when-I-travel mom after forgetting to tell her I was heading to Barbados at the last minute to report on the first Caribbean cruise after the COVID-19 crisis began. She only found out I was out of the country when one of her friends saw me on TV talking about how I was quarantined in my cabin on the ship due to an outbreak of the illness. You can imagine her reaction. Lesson learned.

Also: Call your mom.

Research ports in advance

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On some vacations — a beach trip, for instance — you don't have to do much research in advance. You just show up and figure out your days on the fly.

Most cruises aren't that way — at least if you want to get the most out of them. At the heart of most cruises are port calls that, in many cases, are short, often just a few hours. You want to have a plan for what to do in these ports, or you'll miss out on a big part of the cruising experience.

Once you know which ports you'll be visiting, do as much research as you can. You can read TPG's guides to the best excursions and activities in destinations like Alaska , the Caribbean and the Mediterranean .

Join a Facebook group for your cruise line

Another great place to get ideas for what to do in ports and on ships — and what to bring on a cruise, for that matter — are the many private Facebook groups dedicated to particular lines.

I belong to a number of them, including the Royal Caribbean Cruises group, the COPs (Cruisers Opinion Page) group and the Holland America Line Fans group. On these pages, you'll find thousands of cruise fans who often are only too willing to answer questions you might have about your upcoming trip. I've met some wonderful people in these groups, some of whom have become my longtime friends on Facebook.

Sign up for private tours in advance

Booking a shore excursion directly through your cruise line is easy. You check a box on an online form before sailing or while on board, and — poof — it's all arranged. But booking tours through your line isn't the only option, and it's not always the best choice.

In many cases, you can save a lot of money — and get a better touring experience — by booking shore excursions in advance through independent tour operators in ports or a tour booking service such as Viator or ToursByLocals .

Often, independent tours will be more intimate than the tours offered directly through cruise lines. They might go to the same sites but in a small van instead of a big motorcoach. You might have six or eight other people on a tour with you instead of nearly 40. If your traveling group is big enough, you might even book a private tour just for your friends and family with an independent tour operator.

Related: We skipped the cruise ship excursion and went with ToursByLocals — here's what happened

Sign up for activities in advance

Some lines will let you sign up for shows, tours and other activities (including meals at specialty restaurants) before sailing using online portals. If you want to be sure you get a seat for a specific show on a specific night, or a specific tour or restaurant reservation time, it's a good idea to do this. It's common for popular shows, tours and restaurant reservation times to book up in advance.

If you don't sign up for activities in advance, a backup strategy is to do so just after you board a vessel — but I'm a big advocate of advance planning. You'll find it particularly pays off when sailing on a giant ship, such as Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas , where there are thousands of other passengers competing for restaurant reservations and show tickets.

Related: The 15 best cruise ships for people who want to never grow up

Consider travel insurance

It's not always smooth seas when it comes to cruising or any other sort of travel. We hate to bring it up, but you might need to cancel your cruise in advance due to the sudden onset of an illness. Or, perhaps, you need emergency medical attention during your sailing. Maybe the flight to your ship gets canceled, and you miss the vessel's departure.

These sorts of things can happen to cruisers, and they're all situations where you might benefit from having travel insurance. Here's a comparison of the top travel insurance providers and information about cancel for any reason add-ons .

Related: Cruise travel insurance: What it covers and why you need it

Pack wisely

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For starters, pack early ... and be strategic. Throw all the clothes you think you'll need on the cruise in a pile, then take away half of them. We promise you won't need them.

Most cruising these days is casual, and you only need a few outfits to rotate through a voyage. If things get dirty, no problem. Some ships have launderettes on cabin decks where you can run a load or two of laundry every few days. If not, you can send laundry out to be cleaned on board for a fee in most cases (you might even get this for free if you have status with a cruise line ).

The extra cost of doing a few loads of laundry on a ship is a small price to pay for the freedom of not having to lug a giant suitcase around as you travel to and from your ship. Plus, you'll want to save room in your suitcase for all the little treasures you'll find along the way.

Related: Everything you need to know about cruise ship laundry service

In addition to packing light, pack anything you think you might need for the first few hours of your cruise in your carry-on bag . This means things like medication and a phone charger, but also a bathing suit, a hat, sunscreen and other items that'll let you head straight to the pool deck to start the fun. A porter will likely take away your main bag as you arrive at the port, and you might not see it delivered to your cabin for several hours.

Put your phone in airplane mode

Some of the biggest cruise ship horror stories online are tales of cruising newbies who racked up thousands of dollars in cellphone charges while on ships.

This can happen when you leave your phone turned on and, say, watch videos on the internet. Many phone plans — even international plans — do not include talking, texting and data on cruise ships, and you'll pay exorbitant roaming rates for such services that'll show up weeks later on your phone bill.

You can find ways to make calls and access the internet from ships without spending a boatload of money. You can buy a Wi-Fi package, for instance, that'll let you make FaceTime calls and stream videos (on some ships) by Wi-Fi without using phone data. Some phone companies also have cruise-specific plans you can buy in advance of a voyage.

Personally, I never go that route. I keep it simple. I just put my phone in airplane mode the moment I step on board a ship and never switch it back on. I then turn on the phone's Wi-Fi, buy a Wi-Fi package and do all my calling, texting and web surfing over the internet. That way, there's no chance I'll be surprised by an unexpected phone charge.

Get ready to unplug from work

Really, this should go without saying, but you are heading on vacation . Google that word (and scroll down past the entries for the Ed Helms and Chevy Chase movies to the Wikipedia entry).

This trip is going to be all about taking a break from work , not spending hours every day dealing with the latest crisis back at the office — or, at least, it should be.

In the days leading up to your trip, make sure you wrap up any pressing work projects, let your co-workers know you'll be offline, reply to any outstanding emails and — most importantly — turn on your out-of-office message.

Trust us: You'll be so much happier.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A beginners guide to picking a cruise line
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • Top ways cruisers waste money
  • The ultimate guide to choosing a cruise ship cabin
  • Already Booked
  • Travel Requirements

Discover information about insurance, visas and more.

Passports and Visas

For international cruises.

(To destinations such as the South Pacific, New Zealand, Hawaii, Singapore); all guests must have a passport that is valid for 6 months after the date of the cruise return.

For domestic cruises

Australian residents must provide Government issued photo I.D or a Passport. Children must also have a Government issued ID or Passport. A current Medicare card can also be used for passengers under the age of 18. Please ensure that you bring this form of ID to check-in on the day of your cruise. International guests on a domestic cruise must have a passport that is valid for 6 months after the date of the cruise return.

Legal Guardians

Adults who are not the parents or legal guardians of any minor child (aged 17 years or under) who are travelling with them will be required to present the child's valid passport (and applicable visas) - for International cruises and for Domestic cruises, the child's birth certificate or certified copy. NB On a domestic cruise, the child will not be permitted to board with just a medicare card as ID, if the travelling adult is not named on that medicare card.

They will also need to bring an original letter signed by one of the parents or legal guardians, authorising the minor to travel on that specific cruise. This letter must state the travelling adult's name, and that they are authorised to travel with this particular minor on this particular cruise and date. This letter must authorise them to supervise the child, sign applicable waivers and permit any medical treatment that must be administered to the child. If such evidence is not produced the minor will not be allowed to travel.

Travelling to America?

Electronic System for Travel Authorisation, or ESTA, is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. ESTA applications may be submitted any time prior to travel. However, it is recommended travellers apply when they begin preparing travel plans. Please visit the website to see if you require a ESTA https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ .

Pregnancy Policy

Any Guest who has entered, or who will at any time during the cruise enter, the 24th week of estimated gestational age in her pregnancy, agrees not to book a cruise or board the ship as outlined in clause 21 of the Cruise Ticket Contract .

Accordingly, due to the limitations in medical care, both on board and in various ports of call, women who have entered their 24th week of pregnancy at any time during the time of the cruise will not be allowed to board or sail with the ship. Any pregnant woman who attempts to board the vessel who has entered her 24th week of pregnancy, or who will enter her 24th week of estimated fetal gestational age at any time during the cruise, risks denial of boarding and/or disembarkation without compensation or refund.

  • Travel Insurance

If you would like to find out more in regards to whether you should get travel insurance, please visit the Smart Traveller website click here .

We strongly recommend you purchase comprehensive international travel insurance that has both cruise and COVID coverage. Certain ports of call may impose a requirement that you hold travel insurance if you are medically disembarked from the ship. International medical and repatriation costs can be high and are outside the scope of Australian Medicare.

  • Fiji: Fiji requires for all guests to hold international travel insurance that has both cruise and COVID coverage. Guests must bring printed proof of travel insurance and present it at check-in. Guests may also be requested to present it during the cruise. Any guest who is unable to provide proof of holding suitable travel insurance will be denied boarding.
  • New Caledonia: New Caledonia requires for all guests to hold international travel insurance that has both cruise and COVID coverage. Guests must bring printed proof of travel insurance and present it at check-in. Guests may also be requested to present it during the cruise. Any guest who is unable to provide proof of holding suitable travel insurance will be denied boarding.

Already booked?

Find more information for guests:

  • Online Check-In
  • Port Information
  • What to Pack
  • Life Onboard

Need some help?

Call to speak with one of our agents:

  • Australia : 1300 385 625
  • New Zealand : 0800 442 095

carnival cruise lines do you need a passport

Do you need a passport to go to the Bahamas? Everything you need to know before your trip

I f you’re planning a trip to the Bahamas, one of the first things you’ll need to sort out is your travel documentation. As a U.S. citizen, you generally need to have a valid passport book or passport card to enter the Bahamas by air or sea. While it’s close to the United States , it’s not part of the U.S. or a U.S. territory. As such, you’ll need to meet the same entry requirements as you would for any other foreign country.

What you should know before traveling to the Bahamas

There are some details to keep in mind when it comes to the required travel documents for entering the Bahamas.

Can you use your driver’s license to go to the Bahamas?

No, a driver’s license alone is not sufficient for entry into the Bahamas. Even though the Bahamas is a relatively short distance from the U.S., you’ll still need to present a valid U.S. passport book or passport card when arriving by air or sea.

Your driver’s license may be used as additional identification, but it cannot replace a passport for international travel to the Bahamas. The Bahamas Immigration authorities are strict about enforcing entry requirements, so it’s best to have proper documentation in order.

Can you go on a cruise without a passport?

If you’re planning to take a “closed-loop” cruise that begins and ends at the same U.S. port, you may be able to cruise to the Bahamas without a passport book. However, you’ll need to have a valid passport card, enhanced driver’s license (EDL), or other accepted Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document.

It’s important to check with your cruise line well in advance – some cruise companies may require a passport book regardless of the itinerary. Cruise lines typically recommend having a passport book, even if it’s not strictly required, because it can make re-entry to the U.S. smoother if unforeseen delays or itinerary changes occur.

Is the Bahamas a U.S. territory?

No, the Bahamas is not a U.S. territory. It’s an independent nation made up of over 700 islands and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, located just off the coast of Florida.

While the Bahamas has close ties with the United States, it’s a separate country with its own government, laws, and entry requirements for visitors. This means you’ll need to follow the same travel regulations as any other foreign destination.

Bottom line

The main thing to remember is that you’ll need a valid passport book or passport card to travel to the Bahamas, whether you’re flying or taking a cruise. Your driver’s license just won’t cut it for this international trip, even though the Bahamas is pretty close to the U.S. Now if you’re doing a cruise that leaves from and returns to the same U.S. port, you might be able to get by with just a passport card or other WHTI-approved identification instead of a book. But don’t take chances – check with your cruise line first. 

The post Do you need a passport to go to the Bahamas? Everything you need to know before your trip appeared first on The Manual .

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COMMENTS

  1. Travel Documents

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  2. Places to Cruise Without a Passport

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  3. Here's When You Need (and Don't Need) a Passport to Cruise

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  4. Important Information to Know Before You Go

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  5. Travel Documentation: Non-U.S. Citizens

    Domestic Cruises. Non-U.S. Citizens are required to carry a valid, unexpired passport and a Multiple Entry Visa, if applicable. In addition, guests must contact the appropriate embassy or consulate of the countries they will be visiting for specific travel documentation requirements. Carnival assumes no responsibility for advising guests of ...

  6. Travel Documentation and Online Check-in

    Online Check-In, Arrival Appointment and Boarding Pass. U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires Carnival Cruise Line to submit a final departure manifest with specific guest information at least 60 minutes prior to departure .

  7. Do you need a passport for a cruise?

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    New U.S. passport books cost $165 for adults and $145 for minors, while passport cards are only $65 for adults and $50 for minors in 2022. In other words, new passport cards cost less than half of ...

  10. VisaCentral Passport & Visa Service

    VisaCentral is a company that offers step-by-step instructions for passport applications, assistance obtaining a visa, call center support and discounted rates. For those customers who need to obtain a passport quickly (8-10 weeks prior to departure), VisaCentral also provides expedited service, as fast as 24-hour turnaround.

  11. Carnival Confirms Documentation Requirements After Rumors

    For example, all Carnival cruises that visit Greenland require a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the last day of the cruise. Similarly, all Europe and transatlantic cruises also ...

  12. Guide to Cruise Passport Policies for U.S. Travelers

    Guests must present and carry a passport book that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the end date of their cruise. Closed-loop cruises: These cruises start and conclude at the same U.S. port. U.S. citizens typically do not need a passport book for closed-loop cruises; however, travelers must present: a boarding pass, and.

  13. Do You Need A Passport On Carnival Cruise

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  14. Carnival Cruises Passport Requirements for Cruises

    Carnival Cruise Lines strongly recommends all of our guests travel with a valid passport. However, as of June 1, 2009, U.S. citizens embarking on a cruise that both originates and terminates at the same U.S. port are not required to have a passport, but will need proof of citizenship such as an original or certified copy of a birth certificate ...

  15. Travel Documentation: U.S. Citizens

    Travel Documentation: U.S. Citizens. If the cruise itinerary includes Colombia, a US Passport Book, valid for at least 6 months beyond completion of travel is required. A US Passport Card is also acceptable. If the cruise itinerary includes Greenland, a US Passport Book, valid for at least 6 months beyond completion of travel is required.

  16. U.S. Passport Card

    The card has the same validity period as a passport book: 10 years for an adult (age 16 and older); five years for minors (under 16 years of age). New passport card cost: $55 (age 16 and older) | $40 (minors under 16 years of age) Passport card renewal (by mail) cost: $30.

  17. Must-Know Tips for a Perfect Bahamas Cruise

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  18. Travel Documents and Online Check-In

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    Please ensure that you bring this form of ID to check-in on the day of your cruise. International guests on a domestic cruise must have a passport that is valid for 6 months after the date of the cruise return. Legal Guardians: Adults who are not the parents or legal guardians of any minor child (aged 17 years or under) who are travelling with ...

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  22. Travel Requirements

    Australian residents must provide Government issued photo I.D or a Passport. Children must also have a Government issued ID or Passport. A current Medicare card can also be used for passengers under the age of 18. Please ensure that you bring this form of ID to check-in on the day of your cruise. International guests on a domestic cruise must ...

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