Advice Magazine

Do you need a passport to go on a cruise?

do i need a passport cruise
Surprise! There are some cruises you can take without a passport. - Photo by Yungshu Chao

In light of heightened border security and thorough Transportation Security Administration (TSA) searches, it seems like a given that you need a passport to go on a cruise. Surprisingly enough, the cruise industry has a loophole that lets American passengers soak in the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean and other destinations without a passport on “closed-loop” sailings out of U.S. ports.

If the ship begins and ends its voyage at the same domestic port, passengers can board by showing an official government birth certificate and — for anyone 16 or older — a government-issued photo ID.

Of course, there are some exceptions: Barbados, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique, St. Barts, St. Martin, and Trinidad and Tobago all require cruise passengers to have a valid passport in order to enter their countries. However, you can sail on a cruise that calls on these islands, as long as you stay on the ship at these ports. 

One point to remember: Just because you can cruise without a passport doesn’t mean you should. If you were to miss the ship, not having a passport would make reentry into the U.S. a nightmare. If it’s just a few weeks before your trip, consider taking advantage of the government’s passport rush service or a private service like for less hassle.

Thomas Faddegon
Thomas Faddegon Assistant Editor   Google+

Thomas Faddegon wears many hats, but none fit him better than when he plays detective, hunting down elusive facts and hard-to-find details.


Nailerman's Avatar

Posted by Nailerman 2 months ago

I just read this article and can tell you it is rubbish. Last Year I was refused boarding on a four night Royal Caribbean run to Nassau and Back as I had forgotten my Passport. Having ADHD is a pain in the butt at times. I did have a pdf of the pass port on my laptop as well as a Virginia driver’s license. I told them the pdf should do as the License, but no. I am out around $700.00.

Today I carry as well a former military ID issued by the state of Virginia and a DD214 with me as well.

So how do I get on to Royal Caribbean to make at least a credit toward another cruise?

larryGo's Avatar

Posted by larryGo 2 months ago

Many European countries require at least 3 months before a passport is to expire. My son in law was not able to make a cruise because of this requirement. Not readily publicized and the cruise agency and discount air agency did not advise him of this.

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