Mandatory Travel Documentation for a Cruise Holiday

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Before booking a holiday on a cruise liner, travelers should first check the mandatory cruise travel documents they will be required to present at the pier upon boarding the ship.

Travel documentation for a cruise holiday will vary depending on the port of departure and destination.

In some cases, it will only be necessary to present a valid passport to board a cruise ship, but in others passengers will be required to have an approved visa or travel authorization.

Therefore, travelers are advised to check visa requirements for all of the destinations they may visit during their cruise.

Cruise Documents Required for US Citizens

US citizens must have a valid passport to travel on cruise lines departing from a port in the United States to the following destinations:

  • Alaska
  • The Bahamas
  • Bermuda
  • Canada and New England
  • The Caribbean
  • Florida
  • The Mexican Riviera
  • The Pacific coast

Alternatively, they may travel with a government-issued photo ID, such as a passport or valid driver’s license, and any of the following:

  • A State Certified U.S. Birth Certificate, not including Baptism certificates, birth certificates issued by a hospital, or Puerto Rican birth certificates issued before 1/7/10
  • An Original U.S. Certificate of Nationalization
  • An Original Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
  • A Consular report from the US stating that the traveler was born abroad.

It should be noted that US travelers under the age of 16 do not need to present the government-issued photo ID.

Nevertheless,  Norwegian Cruise Lines strongly recommends that US citizens travel with a passport, in case they accidently miss the ship at the scheduled port of departure and need to leave the US to reach the ship, or if they have to leave the ship from a foreign port before the end of their trip.

To travel on a cruise between the islands of Hawaii, US citizens are not required to carry a passport, government-issued photo ID. However, to board a ship that will travel through the Panama Canal, it is necessary for US nationals to present a valid passport.

To board a cruise from a port outside the US with an itinerary to travel to  Europe, Asia, South America, or Australia, US citizens must have a passport valid for the duration of the trip. it may also be necessary to obtain additional cruise documents, such as approved visas, depending on the ports the ship will visit.

US Cruise Requirements for non-US Citizens

To depart on a cruise from a port in the United States, all non-US citizens must carry a passport valid for at least 6 months from the expected date of return from the cruise.

Additionally, foreign residents of the United States must carry their Permanent Resident Card (ARC) or a “green card,” when traveling on a cruise otherwise they will not be permitted to board the ship.

Canadian Resident Permit (CRP) holders are also required to carry this travel document with them or a valid temporary residence visa when undertaking a cruise, otherwise they will be unable to embark if the ship visits any Canadian port during the cruise.

Chinese Citizens planning on traveling on a cruise to the United States should note that they are required to have an approved  B1 / B2 tourist visa with a duration of 10 years, as well as to register with the Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) before arriving at a US port.

Depending on the itinerary of the cruise, it may also be necessary to obtain a tourist visa to enter certain ports and countries. Therefore, the traveler should check visa requirements for all destinations before their trip.

Cruise Travel Documents for Minors

Norwegian cruise lines currently state the following cruise requirements for minors:

  • Babies must have at least 6 months of age on the day of boarding, or at least 12 months if the cruise has 3 or more consecutive days at sea
  • All minors (under 18 on the day of boarding) or young adult (between 18 and 20 years of age) must travel in the same stateroom or connected stateroom as a passenger over the age of 21.
  • Two passengers under the age of 21 may travel together in the same stateroom only if they are married and present a marriage certificate to a cruise line representative prior to boarding.

Additionally, any minors traveling on a cruise unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian must present a parent / guardian consent form at the time of boarding the ship.

This authorizes the minor’s travel, as well as any necessary medical treatment in case of emergency. Minors with the same legal guardians may be included on the same form.

This form must be completed by both parents/guardians of the minor, who are also required to attach copies of their driver’s license or other government-issued ID. Additional legal or other relevant documents to clarify custody rights may be required from adoptive parents or separated or divorced persons.

Please note these requirements for minors only apply to Norwegian lines. Other operators, such as Carnival Cruise or Royal Caribbean, may have other restrictions.

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