Getting Your Documents in Order
by Rickee Richardson, Senior Editor
If you are taking a cruise, proper travel documentation is your responsibility. Appropriate valid travel documents such as passports, visas, inoculation certificate and family legal documents are required for boarding the ship and for re-entry into the United States and other countries.
The documents issued to you by the cruise line prior to sailing will include current policies for travel identification documentation requirements, including proof of citizenship and proof of identity. Guests traveling without proper documentation will not be allowed to board and will not be refunded the cruise fare. A passport is highly recommended as it will speed-up your ship check-in formalities.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) when fully implemented on June 1, 2009 will require all travelers to and from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda to present a valid passport or other approved document that establishes the bearer's identity and citizenship in order to enter or reenter the United States. Other WHTI-compliant documents for entry or re-entry into the United States include:
- The Passport Card: The passport card is only valid for land and sea travel between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean region, and Bermuda.
WHTI Compliant Travel Documents for U.S. citizen travel via land and sea, as of January 31, 2008:
- Trusted Traveler Cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST)
- State Issued Enhanced Driver’s License (when available)
- Enhanced Tribal Cards (when available)
- U.S. Military Identification with Military Travel Orders
- U.S. Merchant Mariner Document when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business
- Native American Tribal Photo Identification Card
- Form I-872 American Indian Card
Please Note: Children under age 16 will be able to continue crossing land and sea borders using only a U.S. birth certificate (or other form of U.S. citizenship such as a naturalization certificate.) The original birth certificate or a copy may be used. Also, the passport requirement does NOT apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory.
According to Royal Caribbean, U.S. citizens on closed-loop cruises (cruises that begin and end at the same port in the U.S.) will be able to enter or depart the country with proof of citizenship, such as an original or certified copy of a birth certificate, a certificate of naturalization and laminated government issued picture ID, denoting photo, name and date of birth. A U.S. citizen under the age of 16 will be able to present either an original or a certified copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by DOS, or Certificate of Naturalization issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
A valid passport is required; visas are required where they apply. This includes Europe, Asia, Central and South America.
For additional passport information visit U.S. Department of State.
Need a Passport?
A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer. A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave most foreign countries. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue or verify United States passports.
Each person, including children (regardless of age including newborns and infants) must have their own passport. Passports must be presented at the time of embarkation and don't be surprised if the cruise line keeps your passport for the duration of the cruise. In certain ports, Customs officials will board the ship (sometimes in the wee hours of the morning) and request to see the passports of all guests and crewmembers. Since the cruise line already has your passport in their possession, you don't have to be inconvenienced. Be aware that most cruise lines require that your passport be valid for at least six months from the completion of your travel. It is also required that the name on your airline and cruise tickets match the name on your passport exactly.
It is a good idea to make a copy of the main page of your passport and keep it in your stateroom safe. In certain countries, it is suggested that you have a copy of your passport with you when going ashore. You should also leave a copy of your passport at home.
For information on how to apply for, renew or replace a lost or stolen passport and downloadable forms go to www.travel.state.gov/passport. Passport demand goes up between January and July. Apply early to avoid the rush.