A passport is an essential travel document. Credit: Shutterstock

Do you need to take your passport on your cruise?

Author: Intern

Published on:

Updated on:

Your passport is your entry to the world; just don’t leave it behind

The passport. Every traveller’s best friend – and worst enemy. Your passport is your ticket to the world; it’s a form of identification that proves you are indeed who you say you are. It's more than an extension of yourself – it's you in paper form.

Anyone who’s travelled by aeroplane at any point in their life will know the long lines at border control. The judgemental attitude as the border officer looks between you and your passport photo (that might be five years old at this point, admittedly...) can cause prompt anxiety.

The relief as they hand your passport back to you, and allow you through the border check, remains the greatest feeling you can enjoy with your clothes still on.

So, do you really need to take your passport on a cruise? After all, you’re not going through the same security procedures that you would at the airport – so, is it necessary to take?

Well, the short answer is: Yes.

The slightly longer answer is also yes, and there are a few reasons why you need it, and a few why you should take it – just in case.

You should check you have a valid passport before you travel. Credit: Shutterstock

Why you need your passport with you

First of all, most cruise lines will require you to bring your passport for identification before boarding the ship. This is so the cruise liners can ensure all their passengers are legally allowed to travel in the countries the cruise visits.

Forgetting your passport could mean you would not be allowed to board the ship. That would really put a damper on your holiday.

If in doubt, check with your cruise line about their policy.

Certain ports may also ask for passports before allowing passengers into the country. Not all do, but some may, so it’s best to be prepared and have it with you.

Even if you’re on a domestic cruise around the United Kingdom, it’s best to have your passport with you in case you’re asked for proof of identity.

In the event of an emergency, such as the ship obtaining damage, you may need your passport to get back to the United Kingdom, as the cruise line will pay for a return flight and any overnight accommodation.

Similarly, if you were to suffer a medical emergency and needed urgent care on land, you might need to provide proof of identification, and would ultimately need your passport to return home.

Are there specific requirements?

Specific rules and details will differ from cruise line to cruise line, but most will require your passport has been issued within 10 years of your cruise date and that it is at least six months from expiry from either your departure date or return date. One exception is Ambassador Cruise Line, who requires your passport to be valid within three months before your departure date.

Always check with your cruise line about their specific requirements before leaving.

If you need to obtain a new passport, make sure to give yourself plenty of time in case of delays.

What happens if I lose my passport on the cruise?

Get in contact with the on-board security as soon as possible, whether you have lost your passport or believe it has been stolen. The security team will then take you through the cruise line’s process to obtain a temporary passport or travel document.

Losing your passport can be a scary experience, but the most important thing is to get in touch with security as quickly as possible, and they will help you.

For most cruises, you'll need a passport book that's valid for at least six months from the day your sailing ends. Credit: Shutterstock

Will I need a visa as well?

For some places, yes. Whilst the British passport ties for sixth in the overall passport strength survey, meaning British citizens get to travel to 187 countries visa-free, there are some places that still require a visa to enter. Most of these countries are in the Middle East, western Asia or in Africa.

Some countries require a visa on arrival, which simply means the border officers will check your documents and identity and stamp your passport for a small fee.

Similarly, a lot of these visa-on-arrival countries are in the Africa or Asia. Anyone wishing to go to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix should make sure they have some blank pages in their passport, otherwise it’s session cancelled.

If you’re visiting Europe, please be aware of the 90-in-180 rule around the Schengen area.

What is the Schengen area? It’s a zone of 27 countries with no internal borders to allow unrestricted movement; Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The 90-in-180 rule simply means you cannot stay more than 90 days (roughly three months) in any 180 days (roughly six months). So, a seven-day river cruise down the Danube would be fine, as long as you haven’t done it 12 times within the last six months.

Countries not covered by the Schengen area, such as Ireland, have their own visa requirements.

As always, check before travelling and if you have any queries, check with your cruise line.

So, do you need your passport when going on a cruise? The answer is yes, and make sure it has at least six months before expiry. Triple check you have your passport, boarding pass and any visas you need before setting off, that way you can make sure your cruise is as relaxing and enjoyable as possible.

Most recent articles