What is a Closed Loop Cruise and do you need a passport?
We’re often asked if a passport is required for a Closed Loop Cruise. For those who haven’t asked, you might wonder, what is a Closed Loop Cruise. This is a term that refers to a cruise itinerary which begins and ends at the same US location. For example if you are leaving from Long Beach, California to Ensenada, Mexico; as long as the ship is scheduled to return to Long Beach, you will be cruising on what is referred to as a Closed Loop Cruise. However, if your cruise itinerary takes you from Los Angeles to Miami, it is not considered a Closed Loop Cruise.
Closed loop cruises are a perfect alternative for clients who do not have a passport handy or want a last minute deal on a cruise and don’t have time to wait for their passports to be updated. According to the U.S. State Department you don’t absolutely need to have a passport for this type of cruise. A CERTIFIED copy of your birth certificate and a Government Issued photo ID is enough for U.S. citizens. Even though a Closed Loop Cruise is a great alternative if you are strapped for time, at CruiseExperts.com we always recommend traveling with your passport. Worst case example would be if you miss your ship’s departure time in a non-U.S. port due to illness, shore excursion delay or for any other reason, getting back onto US soil will be challenging. It’s also important to note that some websites we’ve seen list some port locations, especially islands in the Caribbean, that will not allow you off the ship without your passport regardless of whether or not you’re on a Closed Loop Cruise. Some of these islands include St. Martin, Haiti, St. Bart and Barbados just to name a few. None of our clients have ever reported problems of this nature since typically the ship is cleared to disembark its passengers in the port and there is no individual immigration process to go through. Regardless we still recommend to all of our clients the convenience of having a passport, you never know when a killer deal will come along to cruise the Mediterranean. If time is of the essence you can always try to expedite the process through the U.S. passport office or a private third party company such as rushmypassport.com. These services could cut several weeks off of the passport approval time frame.
Closed Loop Cruises are a fantastic way to bargain shop if you’re looking to save a little money. In airfare alone you will most likely save money booking your ticket roundtrip or save airfare all together if you live close enough to the port to drive. Other perks include possible saving on not having to pay for a pre or post cruise hotel due to airline schedules or the cost of transfers to the port from the airport or your hotel.
Kimberly Wheeler joined the team at CruiseExperts.com in September 2014. Her role as a Social Media Marketer is to pass on the expertise of the agency to help travelers understand the world of cruising through blogging. Kimberly has an extensive background in Public Relations and Marketing and a passion for engaging the public. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism with an option in Public Relations from Fresno State University in May 2014.