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Passport Card for US Cruiser


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On 1/14/2021 at 10:06 AM, 2wheelin said:

So far you have only gotten opinions. The fact is that under existing rules, neither is required if you have a birth certificate. There are reasons to have a passport for emergencies but thousands of people have cruised without a passport or card with no problems. Weigh the facts and choose according to personal situation. I do agree there is possibly more of a risk in the near future of needing a passport to return home, but even if that occasion arises, there are embassies to help you—with short delays.

And to those who say the cost is so insignificant that if you can’t afford it, you should not be cruising I say ignore them. I can easily afford $100 for a pair of shoes but I choose not to because I have a better use for my money. Saving $100 here and there is how I justify/afford vacations.

I think your post is misleading.  The OP says their friends are traveling outside of the USA by "Air."  This usually requires a valid Passport.  For example, you cannot fly into Mexico without a valid Passport.  The State Department makes this very clear:

 

U.S. citizens should be aware that a valid passport book is required to enter Mexico by air, and those attempting to enter at an airport with a U.S. passport card only may be denied admission.

 

Hank

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16 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

I think your post is misleading.  The OP says their friends are traveling outside of the USA by "Air."  This usually requires a valid Passport.  For example, you cannot fly into Mexico without a valid Passport.  The State Department makes this very clear:

 

U.S. citizens should be aware that a valid passport book is required to enter Mexico by air, and those attempting to enter at an airport with a U.S. passport card only may be denied admission.

 

Hank


the op said that their friends are not going to travel outside the us by air. And they further clarified that them taking this cruise was most likely the only international travel they will ever do.

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1 hour ago, Hlitner said:

The OP says their friends are traveling outside of the USA by "Air."

No...just the opposite. The OP says they are NOT traveling outside the USA by air.

Here's the exact quote from the second sentence of the second paragraph of the original post: " But I have two friends who are not going to travel out of the US by air. "

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44 minutes ago, sanger727 said:


the op said that their friends are not going to travel outside the us by air. And they further clarified that them taking this cruise was most likely the only international travel they will ever do.

Your are right...my mistake.  In such a case I almost agree with you that a Passport is not necessary.  But it does get somewhat complicated if a person needs to leave a cruise for an emergency or even because they are sick.  They will eventually get back into the USA but it can be a real hassle.

 

It is funny, but many have no clue that they need a Passport to fly to Mexico (where we live part of the year).  Everyday folks get turned away by airlines because they do not possess a valid Passport,

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On 1/14/2021 at 11:06 AM, 2wheelin said:

So far you have only gotten opinions.

 

...

 

I do agree there is possibly more of a risk in the near future of needing a passport to return home, but even if that occasion arises, there are embassies to help you—with short delays.

And to those who say the cost is so insignificant that if you can’t afford it, you should not be cruising ...

Embassies do not get involved with people needing repatriation without passports -- that is the function of consulates - which are not everywhere.  And those "short delays" - which can run to several days - usually involve hotel stays, which can easily cost a lot more than the cost of a passport.  

 

Sure , by scrimping someone can afford a cruise if he does not "waste" his money on a passport --  and the odds are that he will not need one ---- but if he does......

 

The fact remains -- if you cannot afford a passport, you should seriously ask yourself if you can afford to cruise.

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1 hour ago, navybankerteacher said:

The fact remains -- if you cannot afford a passport, you should seriously ask yourself if you can afford to cruise.

But in this case the people trying to decide on passport vs. passport card can't and are being gifted the cruise for which they're trying to determine the level of documentation they acquire...

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Technically a PP card is good for land travel only between the US and Canada/Mexico.  It was marketed as a lower cost alternative to comply with post 9/11 security measures.  I grew up in a time where you could drive over the border to pick up cheap Canadian beer as an 18 year old and return to NY an hour later and not have to show so much as a valid college ID.  


my father left his passport home once but was able to board with his NYS REALID compliant DL. ( no birth certificate in hand). I believe that was Carnival.  Might have been NCL.  This was 3-4 years ago now.  
 

once cruising returns( if it ever does from US ports) whatever the policies were before may not be the policies in place to come.

 

if it’s that important to you to fund this cruise, then budget the cost of the passports as well.  

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Informing folks of potential issues is a good thing.  Then they can decide what they want to do.   But this is becoming like a mass hysteria about passports.  Just like flying in the morning of a cruise causes screaming in the streets.   😄

 

 

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5 minutes ago, spookwife said:


 

once cruising returns( if it ever does from US ports) whatever the policies were before may not be the policies in place to come.

 

 

I think that is a very fair statement.  As far as I know closed loop cruises to Mexico could still be done with an ID.  Apparently that is/was allowed for other closed loop cruises too.  I won't be surprised if that changes for some itineraries.  I don't think Mexico will ramp up the requirement -- just a WAG on my part.    

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11 hours ago, spookwife said:

Technically a PP card is good for land travel only between the US and Canada/Mexico.  It was marketed as a lower cost alternative to comply with post 9/11 security measures.  I grew up in a time where you could drive over the border to pick up cheap Canadian beer as an 18 year old and return to NY an hour later and not have to show so much as a valid college ID.  


my father left his passport home once but was able to board with his NYS REALID compliant DL. ( no birth certificate in hand). I believe that was Carnival.  Might have been NCL.  This was 3-4 years ago now.  
 

once cruising returns( if it ever does from US ports) whatever the policies were before may not be the policies in place to come.

 

if it’s that important to you to fund this cruise, then budget the cost of the passports as well.  

The passport card may be used at land and sea ports of entry for Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean and may absolutely be used for cruises (both closed loop and open jaw, as long as the sailing is within the WHTI). If your father boarded with only a drivers license it either had to be an Enhanced Driver's License or the boarding agent made a huge error- the fact that a license is REAL ID compliant is not sufficient for boarding a cruise, proof of citizenship must also be provided.

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11 hours ago, spookwife said:

my father left his passport home once but was able to board with his NYS REALID compliant DL. ( no birth certificate in hand). I believe that was Carnival.  Might have been NCL.  This was 3-4 years ago now

Unless someone at the pier screwed up I suspect your father had an Enhanced Drivers License, Not a REAL ID drivers license. NY did not begin issuing REAL ID licenses until October 30, 2017.

 

An EDL is proof of both citizenship and identity in a single document, hence it can be used in lieu of a birth certificate and drivers license or in lieu of a passport card.

 

A REAL ID license serves only as proof of identity, not citizenship, so it's insufficient for cruise documentation.

 

It's fairly common for people to confuse the two.

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13 hours ago, navybankerteacher said:

Embassies do not get involved with people needing repatriation without passports -- that is the function of consulates - which are not everywhere.  And those "short delays" - which can run to several days - usually involve hotel stays, which can easily cost a lot more than the cost of a passport.  

 

Sure , by scrimping someone can afford a cruise if he does not "waste" his money on a passport --  and the odds are that he will not need one ---- but if he does......

 

The fact remains -- if you cannot afford a passport, you should seriously ask yourself if you can afford to cruise.

There will be a delay but from all that I've read on CC from people this has happened to the delay was measured in hours.

 

For us it wasn't a matter of affordability per se, it was "did we want to spend $850 if we didn't need to". If the answer had been yes then we would have saved until that expense could have been met. But since the answer was no I could not justify spending that amount of money, especially for a 4 day cruise. It sounds like the OP is in a similar situation, he can and could spend the money if he needed to, but he'd rather not spend it if he doesn't have to. Yes, having a passport would be a good thing if something goes wrong, but the odds of something going wrong is going to vary by individual, as is the individuals ability to accept the risk.

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5 minutes ago, njhorseman said:

Unless someone at the pier screwed up I suspect your father had an Enhanced Drivers License, Not a REAL ID drivers license. NY did not begin issuing REAL ID licenses until October 30, 2017.

 

An EDL is proof of both citizenship and identity in a single document, hence it can be used in lieu of a birth certificate and drivers license or in lieu of a passport card.

 

A REAL ID license serves only as proof of identity, not citizenship, so it's insufficient for cruise documentation.

 

It's fairly common for people to confuse the two.

Vermont has also issued EDLs for longer than they've been issuing REAL ID compliant licenses. It is critically important not to confuse the two (I have read of one account where someone showed up at the pier with their REAL ID and if they had not been able to have someone at home fax their birth certificate they would have been denied boarding). 

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15 hours ago, Hlitner said:

It is funny, but many have no clue that they need a Passport to fly to Mexico (where we live part of the year).  Everyday folks get turned away by airlines because they do not possess a valid Passport,

That's so true. I think it is because for so many years, most of my life, US citizens didn't need a passport for travel to Mexico, the Caribbean, most of Central America or Canada. For many people, international travel is once or twice in a lifetime experience and they do not keep up with the changes that have occurred in the last 20 years.

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On 1/15/2021 at 1:31 PM, Hangman115 said:

I got my info from different TA's. Also verified it with the cruise lines themselves. And third it was confirmed at the pier when we tried to check in. No passport. No Boarding allowed. We saw peole who had to stand on shore and watch the ship sail becaise they only had a US birth cert and State DL but no passport. 
 

Just details from personal experiences we had and saw.

 

I think we might be missing some details. I started cruising in 1980, and have cruised several different cruise lines, and never needed more than a BC and DL. These were on closed loop cruises, meaning leaving from one US port and returning to the same US port. Now if it was leaving one US port and returning to a different US port (or a foreign port), then that is a different situation and may require a passport. I know there have been situations with Visa’s, especially when ships went to Brazil, that people were denied boarding if they didn’t have a Visa.

 

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8 hours ago, Sea42 said:

That's so true. I think it is because for so many years, most of my life, US citizens didn't need a passport for travel to Mexico, the Caribbean, most of Central America or Canada. For many people, international travel is once or twice in a lifetime experience and they do not keep up with the changes that have occurred in the last 20 years.

My husband used to spend a lot of work time in El Paso and would go to Juarez with work friends. At the time all you had to say was "I'm a US citizen." Then maybe 30 years ago we were flying down for a birthday party in Acapulco. We flew SFO/LAX and he found out that he DID need his passport which he hadn't brought. He was able to go before a notary and solemnly swear that he was legal and they let him on the next flight. THAT wouldn't happen today. (Oh, yeah, I gave him a bit of a hard time. I had MY passport.)

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As the OP, allow me to share an update I received.

To begin with. Thank you for all the comments and all the advice.  My question was on a Passport card.  I have sailed 108 times already. But have not sailed in the past five years or so. Last time I sailed I do not recall a passport card even being offered.

I sent a question to MSC since I am booked on their cruise line in the fall of 2021. Here is their e-mail reply I got today.

=================================================

Hello,
 
A birth certificate and drivers license is sufficient for guests born in the United States, leaving and returning to a US port.
 
Sincerely,
Scott Surace
MSC Cruises USA

=============================================
 
Now to comment here on my question about a passport card  or a passport book.  My passport expired a while back. So i would need to buy three passports and three photos. Talking about $500 out of my pocket. I would much rather book another cruise with that money. Or spend it on one of the three sailings i have booked this year.  So taking in all your comments and advice. Along with the written response from MSC Cruises. I have decided to forgo all passports and just sail with our US Birth Certificates and US Drivers License or US State ID.

Again thank you dor all your comments and advice. This is a good community. You all are so helpful. Have a safe journey whenever you sail again. Cruising can be very fun
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2 hours ago, njhorseman said:

FYI:

Passport cards have been issued since 2008.

Thank you. My passport book was still good at that time. had not started to look into a passport book reneweal yet. was doing basically USA travel then. Not planning on International travelnnear that time.  But we did cruise to nassau and Freeport in 2008 and they requried a passport. They said a birth certififacate was not accepted at that time.

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On 1/15/2021 at 4:31 PM, Hangman115 said:

I got my info from different TA's. Also verified it with the cruise lines themselves. And third it was confirmed at the pier when we tried to check in. No passport. No Boarding allowed. We saw peole who had to stand on shore and watch the ship sail becaise they only had a US birth cert and State DL but no passport. 
 

Just details from personal experiences we had and saw.

 

You should look for more knowledgeable TA’s (or pay closer attention to what they say.  The information you say they provided is simply wrong

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5 minutes ago, navybankerteacher said:

You should look for more knowledgeable TA’s (or pay closer attention to what they say.  The information you say they provided is simply wrong

Amen. Sadly, so many TAs just don’t have a clue. Perhaps even worse, so many cruisers (new or veteran) are just not willing to do the adequate and appropriate research to identify the good ones. 

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15 hours ago, navybankerteacher said:

You should look for more knowledgeable TA’s (or pay closer attention to what they say.  The information you say they provided is simply wrong

 

15 hours ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

Amen. Sadly, so many TAs just don’t have a clue. Perhaps even worse, so many cruisers (new or veteran) are just not willing to do the adequate and appropriate research to identify the good ones. 

Which accounts for what the OP was told by the TA, but he also claims to have been told the same thing by the cruise line and to have witnessed people denied boarding for not having a passport. One key to being a good traveler is to do one's research oneself and not rely on someone else to do it. While I might give deference to a good, reputable TA I would also verify what I'm told (if possible) and it sounds like the OP did try to do that by checking with the cruise line (which has been pointed out is a good thing to do when it comes to documentation questions because each cruise line can impose a stricter standard). 

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On 1/16/2021 at 12:46 PM, Sea42 said:

For many people, international travel

is once or twice in a lifetime experience

and they do not keep up with the changes

that have occurred in the last 20 years.

 

^ An interesting observation!!

 

Living where I do, on a small island,

you get yer butt off the island every now and then, or suffer island fever!

 

I've been travelling internationally since I was 6 mths old (literally!)..
have had multiple passports, and have used them to see parts of Canada,

USA, Europe and (thanks to cruising!)

nearly all the islands in the Lesser Antilles/Eastern Caribbean.

 

 

South Carib itin.png

South Carib itin-NEW.png

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4 hours ago, sparks1093 said:

 

Which accounts for what the OP was told by the TA, but he also claims to have been told the same thing by the cruise line and to have witnessed people denied boarding for not having a passport. One key to being a good traveler is to do one's research oneself and not rely on someone else to do it. While I might give deference to a good, reputable TA I would also verify what I'm told (if possible) and it sounds like the OP did try to do that by checking with the cruise line (which has been pointed out is a good thing to do when it comes to documentation questions because each cruise line can impose a stricter standard). 

I’m not willing to scan back to OP’s original post but, if s/he’s idea of “checking with the cruise line” was calling an 800 number and talking to yet-another clueless phone rep, I hope the lesson learned was: next time read the T&Cs of the ticket contract and every word on the cruise line’s invoice where it would have clearly stated that a passport (and which, any, visas) was/is required for that voyage.

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