A question I get asked often is “Do I need a passport for a Disney cruise?”. The official answer is for any Disney cruise originating and returning in the United States, you do not need a passport. These are called closed loop itineraries. However, I think it is a good idea to obtain a passport for every person in your family. These are the reasons why:
1) For any air travel to the United States, a person must have a valid passport. I know what you are thinking, I am not traveling back to the US by air. While you may intend to return via the cruise ship, what about emergencies? As moms we tend to focus on all of the what ifs. In this case, I am definitely erring on the side of the what ifs. What if there was a medical emergency that required me or my child to return to the US faster than on the ship? What if there was a national security emergency? What if there was a weather emergency? There are a lot of what ifs. Of all the cruises I have booked, not one person has needed to return for any of these reasons but there is always a chance. I am not willing to take that chance with my family.
2) Passport requirements change from time to time. I would rather be prepared and know that my family has their passports in case the requirements change before our cruise. To expedite a passport is expensive. The average wait time for a passport to be completed is 8 weeks and during peak season it can take as long as 12 weeks.
3) While visiting another country I like having the security that my passport brings. What if something goes wrong(yes, I am back to the what ifs). I like being able to prove I am a US citizen if need be. A drivers license does not offer that level of security that a US passport brings with it.
While you don’t have to have the US passport to take a closed loop itinerary, I strongly recommend you do take passports for every member of your family for your own peace of mind. I will be doing so for my family’s cruise. If you would like to learn more about obtaining a passport for your family members please visit http://travel.state.gov or call the US National Passport Information Center at 877-4USA-PPT.