Do You Need A Passport For A Cruise: An International Guide

First-time cruisers tend to have many questions about cruise travel. One of the most frequently asked questions is do you need a passport for a cruise. Cruise travel is a delightful way to explore the world.

Since each cruise line and cruise type is appealing to a certain type of traveller, let's explore the differences between them as well as their required documents to get you prepared before your big cruise adventure. Here is an international guide on cruise travel.

Do You Need A Passport For A Cruise


Do You Need A Passport For A Cruise - CabinZero

Do you need a passport for a cruise? Your question answered. ID: @Car_tim66

For cruise travel, different travel documents are required depending on whether you are taking a closed-loop cruise or an open-loop cruise.

  • An open-loop cruise refers to itineraries that depart from one US port and arrive at a different one. A valid passport is mandatory for everyone
  • A closed-loop cruise refers to cruise itineraries that depart from and return to the same port where passengers do not visit foreign ports outside of the country. You can use government-issued identification.

If you are a US citizen who travels on a closed-loop cruise, you can use government-issued identification such as an Enhanced Driver's License (EDL) and birth certificate issued by the Vital Records Department.

Every passenger is required to have a form of identification to cruise. This is regardless of a passenger's nationality. It is recommended that cruise passengers have valid passports in case of emergency, such as unexpected air evacuation or change of itineraries.

What About UK travellers?

Regardless of whether it's open-loop or closed-loop, all non-US citizens will always need a valid passport and possibly visas, depending on your nationality and the countries you'll be visiting.

Most cruise itineraries that depart from the UK stop at foreign ports; it is required that cruise passengers have valid passports during embarkation, stopping at port of call and during disembarkation.

For cruise itineraries that only stop at UK ports, some may believe that a photo driving licence and a European National ID card are enough. However, this is not the case.

Most likely, UK travellers need to have a passport, regardless of their destination. For instance, Ambassador Cruise asks everyone to bring their passport, “no matter where you are travelling on a cruise”.

What Travel Documents Do I Need For A Cruise?

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Cruising is an experience, and you should not miss it. Photo by Ivan Kmit -

Travel documents required for cruise travel vary based on nationality, departure port and disembarkation port. Therefore, you should always check with your cruise line or relevant authorities to receive the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding travel documents required for your cruise.

H3. Open-loop And International Cruises

For most cruise lines, the travel document requirements would be as follows:

  • A valid passport (Must be valid for at least six months beyond your cruise return date, similar to travel of any kind).
  • Boarding pass and other destination-specific documents
  • Visas (if required)
  • Health and vaccination certificates
  • Travel insurance (not required, but you should always have one).

Always confirm the specific documentation requirements with your cruise line, as they may have additional guidelines beyond the general ones mentioned here.

CabinZero tips: Always pack the document on your body, not your packs. You may have to present them during the check-in process. We recommend investing in a handy hip pack to keep them close and accessible at all times.

Closed-loop Cruises

According to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), if you are on a closed-loop cruise, you should bring:

  • Enhanced Driver's License (EDL)
  • Government-issued birth certificate (issued by the Vital Records Department in the state you were born) or passport.

As always, even though not officially required for closed-loop cruises, the CBP recommend all US citizens bring valid passports as a precautionary measure.

It is important to note that EDLs are only accepted at land and sea border crossings. This means you can’t use it for air travel. So, if you plan to take a flight somewhere, carry your passport. Even if you’re not, you still should bring it in case of emergencies that require air transport, like a medical situation where helicopter evacuation is needed.

If you are travelling with a US citizen under 16 years old, the travel document required is either an original or certified copy of birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad and/or a Certificate of Naturalization.

Can You Stay On The Cruise Ship If You Don't Have A Passport?

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What if you don’t want to leave the ship? Photo by eskystudio -

Depending on your cruise itinerary and your cruise line's policies, you might stay on a cruise ship without a passport. If you travel on a closed-loop cruise, you might be allowed to stay on your cruise ship without a passport during port visits. Some ports of call even allow cruise passengers to disembark and explore without a passport but with another form of identification.

That said,  without a passport, you won't be able to disembark in foreign ports. It's essential to carry the required travel documents if you plan to leave the ship in non-U.S. ports during your cruise.

On open-loop cruises (those that start and end at different ports), staying on the ship without a passport can be more complicated. The regulations for disembarking at international ports typically require a passport.

If you don't have one, you might be restricted to the ship during international port calls. However, this can vary based on the cruise line's policies and the specific countries visited. It's always best to have a passport for open-loop cruises to avoid any travel complications.

Can I Take A Cruise Without A Passport?

Depending on your cruise line and cruise itinerary, you can travel to a number of destinations without a passport and with other forms of government-issued photo ID. If you are a US citizen and do not have a valid passport yet, the good news is that you can still cruise to popular destinations such as the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

As travel requirements and cruise line policies vary, it is advisable for UK wanderlusts to always check with cruise lines beforehand or look up the latest travel advice in GOV.UK. US travellers can refer to the official travel advisories issued by the US Department of State before travelling.

Where Can Us Travellers Cruise Without A Passport?

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There are many places you can travel without a passport. Photo by Allen.G -

Are you looking for a spontaneous cruise trip but do not have a valid passport at the moment? Worry not. Thanks to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) program, US citizens can re-enter the country via seaports in Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda with just an approved document (like an enhanced driver's license or a valid government-issued photo ID). 

CabinZero Tip: If you're looking for a slightly longer journey, consider a closed-loop cruise that departs and returns to a US port but visits international destinations within the WHTI zone. This way, you can still experience the thrill of visiting other countries without the need for a passport.

Alaska Cruises

Alaska is well-known for its natural beauty, including its towering glaciers and majestic mountains. Cruise passengers can observe wildlife, from sea lions to bears and whales, from the cruise ship and during excursions.

Bahamas Cruises

The Bahamas is known and loved as a tropical paradise. Thanks to its crystal-clear turquoise waters, white-sand beaches and lush greenery. Cruise passengers can participate in island-hopping adventures or spend time enjoying water activities, including snorkelling or swimming.

The Caribbean

This has always been a popular tropical destination for cruise passengers around the world to visit. Aside from being a stunning tropical destination, Caribbean cruises offer passengers a chance to explore the rich cultural diversity and diverse culinary experiences that the locals have to offer.

Hawaiian Islands

According to the Norwegian Cruise Line, When cruising between the Hawaiian Islands, a passport isn't necessary if the journey is confined exclusively to Hawaii's islands. Instead, you simply require a photo I.D. issued by the government, such as a valid driver's license with a photo or a passport.


Coastal destinations like Cozumel, Cabo San Lucas, and Ensenada are popular choices. Remember to pack for the occasion, as the heat can catch you off guard.

New England and Canada

Experience the charming coastal towns and historic cities of New England and Canada on a cruise. Sail along the scenic New England coastline, making stops at quaint towns like Bar Harbor, Maine; Portland, Maine; or Newport, Rhode Island.

Cruise Planning Tips And Requirements

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Planning your cruise trip in advance to explore all cruise lines and find the best offers. Photo by Pixel-Shot on

Before heading to your exciting cruise trip, there are important decisions to make and a number of things to plan ahead. From choosing a destination with a reputable cruise line to preparing all the necessary travel requirements, planning in advance will definitely ensure a smoother and more enjoyable cruise experience for you. Here are our tips on planning a perfect cruise vacation.

Research And Book In Advance

Depending on your desired destination, timing and budget, there are several cruise lines that you can join for an epic vacation.

Generally, the expected costs for a cruise trip vary based on various factors, including cruise line, cruise length, destination and type of room. Whether you are looking for a glamorous cruise experience or a more budget-friendly trip, it is important to research the cruise itinerary regarding activities offered and ports of call.

If you are choosing a popular itinerary, it is recommended that you book your cruise in advance. This allows you to explore various options and look for good deals offered by cruise lines. 

Check Travel Document Requirements

Visas might be required for each of your stops, even if you plan to stay on your cruise. It is advised that you consult with your cruise line thoroughly regarding visa requirements.

Some cruises do not require a passport. However, it is recommended that you bring your passport on the trip in case of unexpected cases. Regarding unexpected cases, you should have important phone numbers written down and research numbers of your consulate in each country that you plan to dock in.

Travel insurance is necessary to cover unexpected expenses or medical and emergency situations while aboard. Furthermore, you are recommended to familiarise yourself with important policies from your chosen cruise line. For instance, it is crucial for passengers to know safety drills while onboard. Last but not least, be sure to have your boarding pass or cruise ticket with you physically or digitally for embarkation.  

Explore Your Options

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Snorkelling is one of the most popular options for shore excursion. Photo by RachelKolokoffHopper on

Some cruise lines have their own apps for passengers to explore onboard activities as well as dining options. You can consider downloading the app before boarding to enhance your experience onboard. 

Cruise Packing Tips

Every passenger is unique. Essential items in your cruise packing checklist might be different from those of other travellers. For a cruise holiday, there are certain items that you should have in your to ensure an unforgettable and comfortable trip. Here are our suggestions on essential items for cruising.

Clothing And Dress Codes

Generally, in the daytime, most passengers wear more casual and comfortable clothing. At night, guests often wear more sophisticated outfits for dining.

Regarding cruise clothing, it is important that you consider the types of local weather that you will visit. Your best bet is to find a balance between comfort and elegance as well as between relaxation and style.

Short weekend getaway cruise packing should be much more compact than long-duration cruises. While dress codes vary by individual cruise lines, there are some common rules.

Cash and Credit Cards

Cruise passengers can easily have fun on board without needing to even bring cash, as most expenses can be paid with credit cards. Using credit cards is a more trackable and safer option than bringing a large amount of cash while on vacation. Depending on the cruise ship, most passengers can use their keycards as both a room key and a credit card for expenses on board.

Before your trip, be sure to check with your cruise line on their on-board spending policies. Moreover, it is helpful to note that there are circumstances where using cash might be necessary, such as during transfers between airports and embarkation ports or tippings. Therefore, you should bring a small amount of cash with you just in case.

Medications and Supplies

Do You Need A Passport For A Cruise - CabinZero

Bringing sunscreen and sunburn lotion are highly recommended. Photo by bilanol on

For a healthy and seamless cruise trip, it is important to bring your prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies that you might need on board. These medications should be in their original containers, and you should make copies of your prescriptions as well as your insurance. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (also known as "CDC"), common health concerns during cruise travel are common colds, seasickness, sunburns, bug bites and norovirus.

Before your holiday, it is recommended that you have an appointment with your healthcare provider. You should make sure that your routine vaccines are up to date and discuss possible destination-specific health concerns. 

Bringing a first-aid kit is a useful practice for every trip. Here is a list of suggested items for first-aid kits.

  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Antibacterial ointments
  • Antiseptic wound cleaner
  • Bandages
  • Insect bite cream
  • Q-tips
  • Sunburn gel
  • Eye drops
  • Tweezers
  • Pain medicine
  • Motion sickness medicine
  • Diarrhoea medicine.

Do You Need A Passport For A Cruise? An International Guide

Cruise travel is a wonderful way to explore different destinations with a mix of interesting activities. Do you need a passport for a cruise? The answer depends on your specific itinerary and cruise lines.

However, it is a good practice to ensure that you have a valid passport for more travel flexibility. A recommended practice is to consult with your cruise line and check for entry requirements in your country of visit. 

Do you find this article helpful in planning for your future cruise trips? Be sure to share this with your travel companions to find the perfect destinations for your next adventure.

Chau Dao

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