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Old 05-14-2012, 01:37 PM
 
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www.cruisecritic.com is a good resource, particularly to ask questions once you have done some basic research on your own. There is also a section with reviews, some extensive, from people after they've taken a cruise. It could help give you an idea of what things you will need to consider when deciding on a cruise. With some cruise companies it can be more difficult, and pricier, to book on your own through them vs. through a travel agent. We've also booked through Web consolidator Web sites (there are some with cruises from various companies and you can compare cruises) and once through the cruise section of an airline's Web site.

I wouldn't think July/August would be the ideal time for a Caribbean cruise.. But I haven't done it, and there are certainly cruises available; if you can tolerate the heat and humidity you may get good deals. After that, there's hurricane season, but cruises still go. July/August is a good time for Alaska and European cruises and some ships that cruise the Caribbean in the non-summer months are in those places in the summer. If you can swing the airfare, you could also look into East Coast cruises, such as New York or Boston to Montreal, or even a Mississippi River cruise.

Be sure to look carefully at the costs that aren't included in your basic fare (e.g., soft drinks, alcohol, coffee outsideof mealtimes, spas, shopping, shore excursions, etc., etc.). Base fares for cruises are low these days. But cruise companies make money on all the extras. If you've never cruises before you may want to try a short one first. That being said, our first cruise ever was from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso, Chile.

If you'll leave the U.S. you'll need to get a passport and, in some cases, a visa. The cruisecritic.com cruise reviews (usually grouped by cruise line) might be a place to start. And you could talk with a travel agent without making a commitment. They will have brochures. Your base price sounds like it's on the low side IF you need to add on-board extras and, possibly, air fare. But if you look around and are willing to consider a short cruise, such as 3-4 days, you should find something. $299 sounds like too-good-to-be-true except for a very short cruises (and, of course, doesn't include extras). Good luck!

Last edited by Samoi137; 05-14-2012 at 01:50 PM..
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:08 AM
 
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We've been on two cruises, both Princess, and have been very happy with the cruise line and their employees. We spend a lot of time on Cruise Critic before we go and have used a TA (AAA) both times. One of the things I like about a site like CC is that you can usually end up being part of a meet-and-greet the first evening of the cruise so you immediately know other people. We did that on our 2nd one and it was a blast. We still communicate with people we met there.
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Old 05-17-2012, 09:26 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EnricoV View Post
You'll need a passport if you are leaving the U.S. So the answer is probably yes, but it depends on the cruise route.
I realize that you qualified your statement by noting that it depends on the cruise route, but If she's returning to the same port from which she embarked (Tampa), then this is considered a "closed-loop" cruise and a passport definitely is not required. Most caribbean cruises are closed-loop. I agree with others that having a passport would still be recommended; however, if the OP is strapped for money (which she appears to be), then this is a cost that can be avoided at this time.
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Old 05-17-2012, 10:52 AM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
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We've been to the Carribean several times and were required to have a passport for the reason many foreigners are also cruising and the immigration checks everyone's ID before departing the ship.
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Old 05-18-2012, 09:50 AM
 
Location: southwest TN
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One can have a passport CARD these days, which is slightly cheaper than a passport. However, neither is needed if staying onboard and not getting off in any ports.

This is from the state department website:

Quote:
US citizens on a closed-loop cruise, one that begins and ends at the same US port, can use a driver’s license or government-issued ID card and a birth certificate, certificate of naturalization or certificate of citizenship.
But note that, you must have a passport for air travel between the US and foreign countries - a passcard will not work. So if there is a family or medical emergency and you need to fly home, or if you miss the ship and need to fly to the next country to catch it or come home, you must have a passport to re-enter the US. Passcards only work for land or sea travel.

So, if you're planning a cruise to Alaska that does not include disembarking in Canada, you can avoid the passport. Other than that, even to save costs, it really doesn't make a lot of sense to me to risk needing a passport and not have one.
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Old 05-21-2012, 05:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nitram View Post
We've been to the Carribean several times and were required to have a passport for the reason many foreigners are also cruising and the immigration checks everyone's ID before departing the ship.
This ^^^^^

We cruised from San Juan and returned to San Juan. We had a full immigration check by US immigration in St. Thomas (on the ship).
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Old 05-21-2012, 10:19 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nitram View Post
We've been to the Carribean several times and were required to have a passport for the reason many foreigners are also cruising and the immigration checks everyone's ID before departing the ship.
It doesn't matter how many foreigners are on the ship. U.S. citizens do not need a passport on closed-loop cruises to the Caribbean. A birth certificate and government-issued I.D. is all that is ncessary. You don't have to believe me; here is the official government regulation:

U.S. Citizens on closed-loop cruises will be able to enter or depart the country on the cruise with proof of citizenship, such as an original or copy of his or her birth certificate (issued by the Vital Records Department in the state where he or she was born) and, if 16 or older, a government issued photo ID. If the child is a newborn and the actual birth certificate has not arrived from the Vital Records Department, we will accept a Hospital issued birth certificate. The United States does not require you to have a passport. (A Consular report of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of State or a Certificate of Naturalization is also acceptable.)


https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/det...-take-a-cruise

Closed Loop Voyages- Frequently Asked Questions - CBP.gov
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Old 05-21-2012, 10:21 AM
 
8,211 posts, read 11,932,798 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaggy001 View Post
This ^^^^^

We cruised from San Juan and returned to San Juan. We had a full immigration check by US immigration in St. Thomas (on the ship).
Just because you went through immigration, that doesn't mean that you needed a passport. See my previous post.
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Old 05-23-2012, 08:41 PM
 
Location: Pacific NW
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We needed passports to cruise to Alaska, with only one stop in Canada. We had to show it to get on the ship. And, when we disembarked in Victoria, we had to show it to the immigration officers on the dock.

I can't speak for the current situation in the Caribbean, but have trouble thinking you don't need one. You've never before needed passports to enter Canada, but now do. Ditto with Mexico. Why does the Caribbean get a pass?

I'll add I've only once in my life (and it was almost 40 years ago) traveled on a cruise that wasn't "closed-loop." So really, all my experience is with that type of cruising.
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Old 05-24-2012, 07:12 AM
 
Location: southwest TN
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Enrico, you didn't need a passport - unless you aren't a US Citizen. You needed to show proper ID - as both I and MadMan pointed out above - per the State Dept's regulations.

Quote:
When returning to the United States from Canada, it is very important to note that all U.S. citizens are required to present a valid U.S. passport to enter or re-enter the United States via air. For entry into the United States via land and sea borders, U.S. citizens must present either a U.S. passport, passport card, NEXUS card, Enhanced Drivers License, or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document.
About.com: http://travel.state.gov/visa/americans/americans_1252.html
Since the information from the Department of State seems confusing to some, hopefully the above information stated more simply will clarify the issue.

Again, you do not need a passport for a cruise leaving/returning to the same US port. You do not need a passport to exit the ship to visit ports in the northern Hemisphere - i.e. Canada, Mexico, Caribbean Islands. That is because you are arriving and departing and returning to the US via SHIP, not air. You can DRIVE to Mexico and Canada and return by car without needing a US Passport. However, IF YOU FLY, you MUST have a passport.

You DO need at minimum a government issued picture ID in lieu of a passport. Some places also require a birth certificate - state issued, not hospital issued and some state issued birth certificates are not valid - such as earlier than a certain year from Puerto Rico and during a specific group of years from Hudson County, NJ.

There is also a PASS CARD that is valid for land/sea travel in the northern hemisphere. NOTE, this is not valid for AIR travel entry into foreign countries or the return to the US - except via land/sea.

As for Enrico's comment about needing a passport NOW in Canada - again, that is not true. You had passports, you showed them as proper documentation. It was not REQUIRED. You needed to show proper documentation and the passport actually is the easiest to use when travelling.

AND, in fact, you can remain on ship, not taking any excursions in foreign countries, without being required to show documentation beyond a government issued ID. Your passage on the cruiseline will be noted as not permitted to exit the ship at a foreign port of call.

PLEASE, if you do not understand, go to the government pages and read and learn. It is actually quite simple.
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