Carnival Cruise Line has reached out to booked guests to remind them about critical travel documentation requirements.

While the requirements have not changed, the reminder is an important message to travelers to ensure they have the correct paperwork and will not be denied boarding for their cruise vacation.

Carnival Cruise Line has issued email reminders to booked guests about the need for valid passports when taking a cruise. The email clarifies that all guests, including infants, require a valid passport and applicable visas (depending on specific destinations) if the cruise meets either one of two conditions.

First, if a cruise begins and ends in different US homeports, passports are required. This includes repositioning sailings as ships move to new deployment homeports, such as leaving Alaska at the end of the summer season and moving to California, Texas, Florida, or other homeports to offer Caribbean or Mexico itineraries.

This is the time of year when ships may also be repositioned from New York or New Jersey to more southerly homeports, and passports are required.

Second, if a ship calls on any ports of call outside the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) area, all guests must have a valid passport. The WHTI is a joint program between the US Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security to strengthen border security, and it was implemented in on a phased schedule from 2007 to 2009.

Carnival Spirit Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock)

This means that even if a cruise does embark and debark from the same US homeport, if it visits any port of call in Central or South America – including Panama, Costa Rica, or Colombia, a passport is required.

Prior to the WHTI, less documentation was required to enter the US, and travelers could even offer a simple oral declaration with no official paperwork to establish their citizenship and identity.

Carnival Cruise Line’s Cruise Ticket Contract, section 2a, clearly states, “It is the Guest’s sole responsibility to ensure his/her legal eligibility to travel and to bring and have available at all times all required travel documents.”

Furthermore, Carnival always recommends that guests travel with valid passports. “Carnival assumes no responsibility for advising Guest of what travel documents are required for the requested itinerary and it is recommended that Guest travel with a valid government issued passport at all times,” the contract reads.

The email from Carnival notes that passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the end of a guest’s cruise.

“While we will do our best to provide you with as much information as possible, you should always ensure that you follow all travel and documentation requirements for your cruise,” the email concludes.

Cruise travelers, especially first-time cruisers, are always curious about what may happen if they don’t have a passport or other appropriate documentation. Simply put, guests with the correct, valid travel documentation will not be allowed to board their cruise.

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“Carnival may cancel the booking of any Guest … who is traveling without proper documentation,” the contract reads. “Under these circumstances the Guest shall not be entitled to a refund or compensation of any kind.”

Furthermore, guests without passports or other necessary travel documentation may have a much more difficult time returning to the US if they are late returning to the ship or in case of emergency, as happened in mid-September when two travelers were injured in an accident in Mexico. While the cruise line does attempt to assist in such instances, having updated travel documentation is immensely helpful.

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