Passports: Get One and Don’t Let it Expire!

When I first started cruising 20 years ago US Citizens were not required to have a passport for “closed loop” cruises. A.K.A a cruise that starts and ends in the USA. Back then the government said they were going to end that policy and require passports for all cruises, but that for some reason did not happen; you can still cruise without a passport. You just have to bring your birth certificate and ID.

“So why get a passport if I can cruise without one?”

Well, you can cruise without one and that is usually OK… until the Kraken strikes and something goes wrong. What if you are on a cruise, the ship is docked in a foreign country, and there is an emergency at home? If you have passport you alert guest services onboard that you need to leave, they arrange with the local authorities for your passport to be stamped and you can then leave the ship, fly home, and get through customs and immigration with no problem. If you do not have a passport it will be tremendously more difficult. In March of 2022 the Norwegian Escape ran aground in the Dominican Republic. They canceled the cruise and flew everyone back to Orlando. Well, everyone who had a passport. Those who did not had to go through a lot of red tape and it took much longer.

“I don’t travel enough to bother”

I do not understand why so many people are hesitant to get a passport. Yes, it costs well over a hundred and fifty bucks, but it is good for ten years and you can use it for so much more than travel. Certain banking transactions require a second form of ID. You can use it to start a new job to verify citizenship, you can use it for general ID purposes if you lose your driver’s license, and you can always use it to get past the TSA at the airport, even when traveling domestically. So get a passport… you can thank me later.

Remember to Renew

The second part of the equation is not forgetting to renew your passport and do not let the time it takes to renew wreck your travel plans. It is currently taking the State Department up to three months to get renewals back to people. That is three months where you cannot travel. Not to mention the fact that a LOT of countries (and cruise lines) will not let you travel if your passport expires in less than six months. So here is the trick I came up with to not forget to renew nor let it get in the way of your travels:

Take a look at your passport and take note of the expiration date. Next, go into your Google Calendar (or iCal if that’s your flavor). You may be thinking I will tell you to enter the expiration date in the calendar, but no! That would be too late! Instead, determine the date one year prior to the expiration and then enter an event that starts on that date and is a month long. That way, you will be reminded with plenty of warning, and it is a big enough entry on the calendar that you will not miss it.

Until next time, may you avoid the Kraken and have Fair Winds and Following Seas.

Eric Cable

Charlotte, North Carolina

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