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Where can you cruise without a passport?


Dreaming of a cruise vacation but don’t have a passport or time to your current one renewed? There are a number of great cruise options to consider, which allow you to travel with other forms of identification. In other words, you do not always need a passport to go on a cruise and visit other destinations!

For those looking for a classic warm weather cruise, there are plenty of fabulous destinations in the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Bermuda. The Mexican Riviera and Hawaii are also some great West Coast options. 

Read more: Can you go on a cruise without a passport?

For something different, Northern sailings to the majestic state of Alaska or picturesque towns of the Northeast and the maritime region of Canada are also fantastic alternatives.  


Here's a look at some great cruise vacations that do not require a passport and some important details to know before you book. 

Cruising without a passport 


The ability to cruise internationally without a passport is convenient for many who do not currently have that all-important travel document. There is a surprising list of destinations to choose from in the Western Hemisphere, including the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, and Mexico. 

Cruising without a passport is often a misunderstood topic among cruise forums, with many not clear on the conditions for travel.  

The good news is that many cruise itineraries operate under the current regulations as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which sets out some common rules for travel and cruising in the Americas. Under this program, American cruisers ages 16 and older can sail with approved identification, such as a government-issued photo ID and a birth certificate, on closed-loop cruises. Children 15 and younger can travel with a birth certificate as well. 

What are closed-loop cruises? 


A closed-loop sailing is a cruise that begins and ends at the same port in the United States, travels within the Western Hemisphere, and has at least one foreign port of call. 

For example, if you embark on a cruise leaving from Miami that ventures to at least one foreign port, such as Cozumel, prior to returning back to Miami, you are completing a closed-loop cruise. 

On the other hand, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection notes that if you board a cruise ship in San Diego, California, sail through the Panama Canal (and stop at a foreign port during the cruise), before ending the cruise in Miami, Florida, you have not taken a closed-loop cruise. That is referred to as an open-jaw sailing, even though you are beginning and ending the cruise in the United States. 

In short, the embarkation and disembarkation ports are different. In order to be a closed-loop cruise, the cruise must begin and terminate in the same port, such as Miami, Tampa, etc.  

Close-loop cruise destinations 

The Bahamas 

Navigator of the Seas at CocoCay

Less than a day’s sailing from Florida, the Bahamas is famed for its crystal clear waters, flavorful Bahamian cocktails, conch fritters, and stunning beaches. 

Numerous cruise lines visit the 700 island archipelago island, which is less than 50 miles from Miami. Cruisers enjoy a number of cruise ports of call, such as Nassau, Grand Bahama and Bimini. Additionally, most cruise lines have private islands dotted throughout the island chain, including Royal Caribbean’s epic Perfect Day at CocoCay, MSC’s Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, Disney’s Castaway Cay, and Carnival’s Half Moon Cay, to name a few. 

Passengers can enjoy a beach day, snorkel, kayak, go boating, swim with sharks, jet ski, visit local markets, gamble at a casino, or have tons of fun at the incredible Atlantis waterpark in Nassau. This is also one of the most popular destinations for short weekend cruises, for those needing a quick weekend getaway. 

Read more: The best Bahamas cruises you should try



Often seen as part of the Caribbean, Bermuda is actually 650 miles east off the coast of North Carolina off on its own in the North Atlantic, and its geography and history make it a truly unique island. 

It possesses picturesque pink beaches with clear blue water, and an abundance of coral reefs and marine life. The 21-mile long island can be easily explored during a port day. Cruisers love its famed Horseshoe Bay Beach, colorful capital Hamilton, and hundreds of shipwrecks that make it a diver’s paradise. 

With itineraries leaving from the East Coast from ports such as Boston, Baltimore and Bayonne, it is a convenient cruise option. Additionally, a number of itineraries include a night on the island, which gives passengers even more time to explore all that the island has to offer. Some itineraries will sail to Bermuda and the Caribbean and/or Bahamas, too, giving you more places to check off of your bucket list. 

The Caribbean 

NCL Getaway in St Thomas

Caribbean cruises continue to be the most popular, with numerous Eastern, Western and Southern itineraries giving cruisers plenty of options. With warm weather all year long, many love a summer break or a getaway from the cold winter weather.  

Whether it is a beach day, high-energy thrills like zip-lining through lush jungles, rum sampling, a foodie tour or a historic walkabout, there are tons of memorable excursions to be had throughout the Caribbean.

Cruisers can even travel as far south as Mexico and the ABC (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) islands of the southern Caribbean, a stone's throw from South America which rarely see tropical storms. There are, however, a couple of islands that do require passports, including the French islands of the Lesser Antilles, such as Guadeloupe and Martinique. 

Regardless, there are so many islands in the Caribbean to choose from that you can visit on a cruise without a passport. You will not get bored, that is for sure!

Plus, many cruise lines deploy some of the newest ships to the Caribbean. Not only will you be able to visit some pretty neat destinations, but you will be able to do so while enjoying the newest onboard thrills that the cruising industry has to offer. 

Read more: Best Caribbean shore excursions


Celebrity cruise ship at Hubbard Glacier

For those dreaming of sailing north to the Land of the Midnight Sun, the months of May through September have the best weather and conditions for cruising. 

Enjoy stunning marine life, crackling blue glaciers and scenic views. Visit seaside towns like Ketchikan and Skagway, sail through fjords, explore the history of gold mining, marvel at the Northern Lights, and you can even tour a bear sanctuary. The choices are endless. 

Departure ports of Los Angeles and Seattle are frequent starting points for an Alaskan cruise and are suitable for closed-loop sailings; however, cruises that start in Canada, most often Vancouver, are not considered closed-loop. Some excursions, such as trains and tours that entail venturing over the Canadian border, require a passport. 

Moreover, be mindful of one-way Alaska cruises. You will often find some that depart from Whittier or Seward but return elsewhere. Even if both ports are in the United States, the sailing will not satisfy the closed-loop requirements, and you will need a passport to board. 

Read more: Do I need a passport for an Alaskan cruise?


Cabo rocks 2

Many Caribbean cruises visit the sun-drenched ports of the Mayan Riviera, with its stunning beaches in places like Cozumel and Costa Maya. These are popular stops on Western itineraries sailing from ports in Florida, as well as Galveston. There is an abundance of things to do, such as a variety of water activities, visits to ancient ruins, and jeep tours.  

However, for those on the West Coast, there are some fantastic destinations in the Mexican Riviera, so named for its scenic landscapes, that rival the famous coast of Europe. The area is famous for its incredible marine life, warm sunny temperatures, plenty of outdoor activities, food and culture. Many ships visit Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Ensenada and Catalina Island, to name a few. 

There are both short and long cruises heading south year-round from ports like Los Angeles (Long Beach), San Francisco, and San Diego. 

New England / Canada 


Cruises to New England and Canada are also great options for summer and fall cruises, perfect for vacationers who enjoy a variety of activities and perhaps want to explore somewhere other than the Caribbean. Many leave from ports such as New York, Bayonne, and Baltimore; however, a cruise leaving from Quebec would not be considered a closed-loop cruise, as it does not depart from a United States port. 

Scenic views of the mighty Atlantic Ocean, bountiful seafood, stunning fall foliage, and plenty of nature are some of the top highlights of the region.

Historic cities, like Boston, Portland, Bar Harbor, Halifax and Saint John welcome tourists and are full of charm, classic buildings, cobblestone streets, timeless breweries and incredible cuisine.   



Hawaii is a bit of a different case, as it is part of the United States. U.S. citizens can fly and cruise to Hawaii without a passport. However, there are some Hawaiian cruises that have extended tours that venture to Polynesia or starting/ending in Canada, which do require passports. 

You will easily be able to tell when searching, though, as these cruises are often over one week long and clearly state that they are venturing elsewhere. 

Hawaii is an alluring choice with its lush tropical islands, mountains and famous beaches that surfers love. Inter-island cruises in Hawaii are a great way to see the incredible beauty of the region. 

Given the price of accommodations and flights within Hawaii, cruising can offer a cost-effective way to tour many of the Hawaiian islands during one trip. 

If this is something that interests you, you should know that Norwegian Cruise Line is the only mainstream cruise line that offers year-round roundtrip sailings here. Other lines, such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Princess, only offer them seasonally. As mentioned earlier, be careful when booking. As they are offered seasonally, they are often used as a repositioning cruise, meaning they are they beginning and ending in different ports. 

What if I want to take a cruise to Europe?


If you are considering cruising Europe, you will need a passport that expires no earlier than six months after your cruise. This applies even if you are taking a transatlantic cruise, as you will be ending the sailing in a different continent! 

If your cruise begins and ends in Europe, such as in Barcelona or Athens, then you will have to fly internationally in order to reach the ship, and you will need a valid passport to gain entry to the country. Likewise, if you are returning to the United States after a transatlantic cruise, you will need a passport to pass through the airport and board your flight home. 

In short, if you want to go on a Europe cruise, start getting all your documents ready and apply for your passport as soon as possible!

Important considerations 

Two airplanes

Wherever you decide to cruise, it is essential to consult with your cruise line to ensure you are up to date on the latest requirements. In addition to country specific regulations, some cruise lines have their own regulations about traveling with or without a passport. 

For example, Silversea Cruises, which is owned by Royal Caribbean Group, requires passports even on closed-loop sailings. If you have a sailing booked with them, you will want to ensure that you have ample time to renew or obtain a passport. 

Additionally, cruisers need to ensure they have the correct identification, such as a government-issued photo ID, as well as proof of citizenship. 

Copies of birth certificates may not be accepted, and there are different requirements for citizens born abroad. Additionally, baptismal papers and hospital certificates of birth are not acceptable. Voter registration cards and social security are not considered proof of citizenship.

Of course, it is better to have a passport in the event of an emergency or, for some reason, you miss the ship departure while in port. You cannot fly back to the U.S. without a passport which could cause some major delays in returning home should any issues arise. 

Read more: Why it's more important than ever to cruise with a passport

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