Delay applies only to sea travelers
Cruise Critic---by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor---Oct. 4, 2006---You may have heard that the U.S. government has
passed a bill in which a provision allows for a delay in the previously
announced deadline date -- January 8, 2007 -- for passports. That rule,
of course, applied to folks traveling from the U.S. to Mexico, Canada
and the Caribbean, and really meant that you could leave America
without your passport -- but wouldn't be allowed to return. This
just-announced delay now gives travelers until June 1, 2009 to get a
But it's complicated. At Cruise Critic, members have asked us lots of
questions, and quite frankly, we've had to ask quite a few, too. Here's
what you need to know:
This new provision -- the delay -- applies only to sea travelers. Those
flying to Mexico, Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean still have to get a
passport by January 8, 2007.
Possible Complications: Hypothetically, if you are departing
from Barbados (and so need to fly there) for a Caribbean cruise, you'll
need the passport. If you are sailing from Miami to Barbados (and other
ports), you don't need it. Yet. And this sea travel extension applies
to no other destination -- South America, Europe, the U.K. -- have long
required passports and still do.
The accepted documents for sea travelers until the new 2009 passport
deadline are, according to the U.S. Department of State: "U.S. citizens
are encouraged to show a U.S. passport. If they do not have a passport,
they should be prepared to provide a government-issued photo ID (e.g.
Driver's License) and proof of U.S. citizenship such as a U.S. birth
certificate, naturalization certificate, or U.S. passport."
Possible Complications: Cruise lines will accept the above forms
of identification for itineraries whose ports of call feature stops in
Canada, Bermuda, Mexico and the Caribbean -- but honestly, you're so
much better off with a passport. It simplifies everything. It lasts for
ten years. You can go (almost) anywhere save for Cuba or North Korea.
You're still going to have to bite the bullet some day. To borrow from
Nike, "Just do it."
What happens when you're cruising to places in the Caribbean or Bermuda
that generally require a U.S. passport to enter? Among the destinations
that require visitors to brandish a passport are Barbados, Martinique,
St. Barth's, Guadeloupe and the British Virgin Islands (all calls on
Possible Complications: The good news -- for now -- is that
there aren't any complications: Those countries provide exemptions for
cruise passengers and passports are not required, according to Carnival
Cruise Lines' Jennifer de la Cruz. "We do not have reason to believe
those exemptions will change between now and the official
implementation of the U.S. government's new passport rules. So, it
should be status quo between now and then. However, once the initiative
becomes effective, the exemptions for cruise passengers will no longer
be relevant because you will not be able to board a ship for a
Caribbean cruise without a passport."
Beyond the passport issue, Congress is debating the merits and
operational procedures of a more cost-efficient identification system.
It's called the Passcard.
Possible Complications: Specific details are still being worked out. We'll keep you posted.