Cruising Basics

Do I need a passport for a cruise to Mexico or Alaska?

We always recommend that every traveler have a passport because it opens up the world of travel. However American citizens don't always need one to cruise to Alaska or Mexico. We'll first discuss those situations when a passport is not required.

When you take a "closed loop cruise" from a USA city you don't need to have a passport but rather can travel with a certified copy of your birth certificate and a government issued photo ID such as a driver's license. What is a closed loop cruise? It is any cruise that departs and returns to the same port in the USA. So for example a cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico that returns to terminate in Los Angeles qualifies, as would a round trip Alaska cruise from Settle.

If, however you plan to fly or drive to Vancouver, Canada to board your ship for your Alaska cruise, you'll need to have a current passport that doesn't expire for more than 6 months from when you return to the United States. The same fly/drive rule would apply to Mexico; however, very few cruises to Mexico originate outside the United States.

Just for the sake of being extra clear, what happens if you board a ship in Los Angeles, make stops in Mexico and other countries, sail through the Panama Canal and terminate in Miami, Florida? You'll need a passport.
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