Do I need a Passport?
This is a very common question for new cruisers. Many do not know the requirements to cruise and are looking for the correct answer. The short answer is, no, you do not need a passport to cruise in most instances. All you need is a photocopy of your birth certificate and a government issued ID. The birth certificate does not need to have a raised seal on it nor does it need to be a certified copy. Lots of new “experts” do not understand this. A photocopy of your birth certificate from your home printer is perfectly acceptable. In fact, leave your original birth certificate at home so it doesn’t get lost or damaged. Just remember your photocopy needs to be of your actual birth certificate, not the little novelty paper you get from the hospital. That paper is just a keepsake. Some people think that’s a birth certificate for some reason–it’s not.
All of this information can be found on Carnivals website in the FAQs in case you’re still unsure.
If you are on a cruise going to Martinique then YES you do need a Passport. Also, cruises to Alaska that stop in Canada, you will need a Passport to exit the ship in Canada. Cruises to Cuba used to require a Passport also but there are no longer any cruises to Cuba.
WHAT IF YOU HAVE AN Enhanced Drivers License?
If you have an Enhanced Drivers License, then you do not need to have your birth certificate. An Enhanced Drivers License is all that you need. Just make sure you state has an Enhanced Drivers License, only a few do. There’s a difference between an Enhanced Drivers License, and a RealID.
Understand the risk
If you are traveling without a valid US Passport, there is a risk you are taking. If there is an emergency where you need to fly home or if you miss your ship in port for some reason and need to get to the next port, you will need a Passport. However, this does not mean you’re stuck if you do not have a Passport. There is just more red tape for you to cut through. If you miss your ship or you need to fly home for an emergency, then you will need to visit the United States Embassy in whatever country you’re in to get an emergency passport to return to the states. They can do this on site and get you back home. There will be fees and headaches to endure, which is why most people just say get a Passport to begin with.
Do I need the book, or the card?
A Passport Card serves no more purpose than a birth certificate and ID, in terms of cruising. A Passport Card is meant for driving to/from Canada and Mexico from the United States and is also for domestic flying. It is invalid for international flying, which is why it serves no purpose on a cruise. If you’re going to invest the money in a Passport, get the Passport Book as that’s what’s required to travel by air into the United States.