The Departments of Homeland Security and of State issued the final rulemaking concerning the requirements of passports for land and sea border crossings under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. After years of development following 9/11, this ruling is the end of the process and can be considered FINAL when helping you ensure they have the proper identification when traveling.
Effective June 1, 2009, the following rules take effect for cruise passengers:
U.S. citizens on cruise voyages that begin and end at the same U.S. port (closed-loop itineraries) must show proof of citizenship* and government-issued photo ID (such as a driver's license). A passport will not be required for passengers that fall into this category.
Q: What is the definition of closed loop in the context of modified processing of cruise passengers?
A: Closed-loop cruises are defined as U.S. based cruises with itineraries that both originate and terminate in the United States, returning from contiguous territories or adjacent islands.
Q: What does contiguous territories or adjacent islands mean?
A: Contiguous Territories are any country sharing a common boundary with the United States. Canada and Mexico are contiguous to the United States.
Adjacent Islands as follows: Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Barbuda, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Marie-Galantine, Martinique, Miquelon, Montserrat, Saba, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Christopher, Saint Eustatius, Saint Kitts-Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Maarten, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, and other British, French and Netherlands territory or possessions bordering on the Caribbean Sea.
*Documents include: Original or certified copy of birth certificate; Naturalization papers; Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by Department of State
All other passengers and/or itineraries (such as cruises which begin in one U.S. port and return to a different U.S. port or any cruise that begins or ends in a foreign port) will require a passport or other recognized document. For a list of accepted documents, see www.travel.state.gov.
The good news for a majority of cruise passengers - American citizens that leave and return on their cruise from the same U.S. port - is that the travel document requirements will remain largely unchanged from how the industry is operating today.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THE FOLLOWING:
WHILE A PASSPORT MAY NOT BE REQUIRED FOR YOUR CRUISE, IF YOU SHOULD NEED TO FLY BACK FROM A FOREIGN PORT, WHILE ON YOUR CRUISE, AND YOU DO NOT HAVE A PASSPORT, IT WILL BE DIFFICULT (IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE), TO FLY BACK INTO THE UNITED STATES.
ADDITIONALLY, INDIVIDUAL CRUISE LINES MAY HAVE THEIR OWN POLICY. PLEASE CHECK YOUR CRUISE LINES WEBSITE FOR SPECIFIC INFORMATION.