Going on a cruise can be a terrific experience but first-timers may have a few questions about the requirements. One of the most common questions about going on a cruise is whether or not a passport is needed.
If you want to take a short but fun trip, a day cruise may be just the thing, particularly if it is incorporated into a longer vacation. Day cruises are often smaller ships that provide fewer amenities but sail into international waters to allow certain kinds of gambling and other activities. They also generally offer terrific food and some other activities such as swimming or wildlife observation. Day Cruises most often depart and return to the same port – on the same day or within 24 hours. As you are generally not expected to embark or enter another country, a passport is not needed.
An Alaskan Cruise generally departs from the West coast of the United States and stops at US ports in Alaska. A variety of activities are offered including unique mining tours and outdoor activities along with exciting sports such as kayaking and habitat exploration that can take place right from the ship. In most cases, a passport is not required for an Alaskan cruise but may be recommended.
Leaving from the US on a ship
If you have arranged to sail from the United States to Europe, South America, Asia or Africa and return to the US by boat, a passport is technically not required but is highly recommended. In most cases, a number of foreign ports will be visited with exit from the ship for local shopping and dining. Anytime the ship is exited, you are entering a foreign country and are no longer on American soil. It is always a good idea to have a US passport for identification purposes. A US passport will also make it easier to obtain assistance if anything goes amiss.
Leaving the US by airplane
If you are leaving the United States by air and entering another country, a passport will be required. The city and country where you enter the ship will be your “home port”. All international air travelers are required to have a US Passport and to comply with all applicable visa requirements. Your cruise ship provider should be able to help you determine what requirements will need to be met.
Getting your passport for a Cruise
Getting a passport to take a cruise is basically the same as getting one for any other reason. If you have plenty of time and don’t mind handling the confusing process yourself – you can apply directly with the state department. If you are expecting to leave in less than a few months or you want some help, your best bet is to go with a company like U.S. Passport Online where you will be provided a concierge level of service. You will be given a dedicated case manager who will help you follow the process all the way through – and your passport will arrive a lot faster, leaving you less to worry about.
Whether it is your first time on a cruise or not – you have a lot to plan for. If you don’t have a passport already, save yourself some trouble and get one using U.S. Passport Online from the convenience of your own computer. Even if you don’t technically need one, you might really enjoy the cruise – and want to travel a lot more.
If you need a passport fast, fast, fast – or just want a concierge level service where the process is made as painless as possible with a minimum of confusion, check us out!