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56 minutes ago, rtread said:

We are going on a RC Western Caribbean 7 day cruise before long. I have read differing bits of info on whether we should get passports or not....birth certificates and picture IDs being sufficient.

Does anyone have any info, experiences, etc. on this?

Passports are the preferred form of identification but if you choose to use another picture I.D., make sure it is an enhanced driver's/non-driver's license a/k/a a REAL ID or else you will be turned away. Minors can utilize a passport or their birth certificate. Things are tightening up with all travel ports.

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I believe the rules allow you to use birth certificates and a real ID but only IF you take a closed-loop cruise (leave from AND return to the same exact U.S. port). We did this for Harmony in 2017 with no issues and very easy. However, if your ship is forced to another port, you get kicked off/left, medical evacuation, etc. you will be stuck without a passport. At the time I judged the $550 cost a bridge to far after paying for the cruise but it is a risk. 

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These two links will help you in making a decision for yourself.  Many here will advocate getting a passport just in case of many circumstances preventing a closed loop cruise.  

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/travelers-with-special-considerations/cruise-ship-passengers.html

https://www.royalcaribbean.com/faq/questions/united-states-citizen-travel-documentation

I'm also a member of team passport because there are so many potential "what ifs" for me to be comfortable with just a birth certificate and ID.

 

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3 hours ago, Matt said:

As an American, you do not need to get a passport, but I highly recommend you get one anyway. It's definitely a best practice among cruisers.

Uummmmm....I would clarify this statement a little bit more since it seems very open ended. Cruises out of any port that is not a U.S. port requires a passport OR if you take an excursion that requires you to jump from one country to another (i.e., St. John's or Tortola excursion from St. Thomas) requires a passport any time you leave and re-eneter the U.S.,  or one of its territories and any foreign ports to another foreign port. Even if it is for five minutes.

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22 hours ago, princevaliantus said:

Uummmmm....I would clarify this statement a little bit more since it seems very open ended. Cruises out of any port that is not a U.S. port requires a passport OR if you take an excursion that requires you to jump from one country to another (i.e., St. John's or Tortola excursion from St. Thomas) requires a passport any time you leave and re-eneter the U.S.,  or one of its territories and any foreign ports to another foreign port. Even if it is for five minutes.

You are correct, I was making a generalization.

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I am one that will choose to agree, you will find many that say that they do not check them at the terminal when you get off the ship.  Unfortunately you can not plan your life in advance and therefore do not know when you will need them or not.  What if someone gets injured or sick?  What if something happens during your shore excursion and your are late back to the ship, I do know that RCCL says that they will wait but what if they decide that its better just to leave and fly you to the next port?  I know that some will say that all you need is a photocopy, but to that I will say when you get pulled over does a police officer ask for a copy of your registration, and a copy of your license?  When you pay for something in a store will they accept a copy of your credit card?  How about a photocopy of your credentials when you are trying to board a plane within the CONTUS?  If you plan on cruising often then it is worth its weight in gold, and I will never leave the ship without them as well as other important documentation.  

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