Did you get passports for your kids when taking a cruise?

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Posted 1/14/2013 by alisatj in NSBR Board
 

alisatj
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Posted: 1/14/2013 8:52:07 PM
We're going on a cruise in June. My parents are taking our whole family. My father has recommended that everyone get passports. Technically, they're not required since we're leaving and returning to the same port. But he says we're better off having them in case of emergency.

I have 4 kids. This will cost us over $400. And it's not an issue of "If you can afford a cruise, you can afford the passports." We didn't pay for the cruise. My parents did. I don't think we could have afforded this on our own.

Would you get them? Have you gotten them? What's your experience?

TIA!

I-95
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Posted: 1/14/2013 8:56:27 PM
It's not so much whether you're leaving and arriving back at the same Port, it's whether you plan on leaving the ship to go sightseeing, or shopping, in a foreign port.

If you plan on getting off the ship at any foreign port, then you will need a passport, or a passport card.

ETA: My kids have had passports since they were tiny babies, but if you're just going to Canada, Mexico, or the Bahamas, you can get passport cards, which are vaguely like a driver's license. Same size anyway, but with all the regular passport info on it. They are slightly less expensive than a full passport. Might be worth it if you're not going to be traveling Internationally in the next 5 years. Passport cards are only valid for travel to Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas.

Spiffie
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Posted: 1/14/2013 9:01:48 PM
We did and I will tell you why. We went to get the passport card and the clerk told us that if we had an emergency where someone got sick or required an evacuation, we could NOT get on a plane. It just so happened that on our first cruise a gentleman had to be evacuated for health reasons. The coast guard came and picked him up, but his wife had to stay ONBOARD with her kids because the kids did not have passports.

Just my experience.





melissa
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Posted: 1/14/2013 9:11:59 PM
Absolutely. Your father is correct. You are much better off in the case of an emergency of any sort.

A cruise is why we got our dd a passport in the first place. You may be leaving and returning to a US port, but you are travelling in foreign and international waters. Not only that, chances are very high you are travelling on a cruise ship that is not chartered in the US. As others have said, the children may not be able to visit other ports.

There is a significant difference in price between the card and the book. The card is $40 and the book is $120 for a minor.

If you do decide to get the passports, you should know that both parents need to be present.




vcr
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Posted: 1/14/2013 9:17:27 PM
You do not need a passport to get off the ship in a foreign port for the type of cruise you are going on. We did get passports for our kids because it is better to have them just in case. We also went on half a dozen cruises before we got passports.


Scrappinnut01
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Posted: 1/14/2013 9:17:36 PM

It's not so much whether you're leaving and arriving back at the same Port, it's whether you plan on leaving the ship to go sightseeing, or shopping, in a foreign port.


We never had to show our passports at a port to get back on the ship. You just need a photo ID and your room key. We were actually advised not to carry our passports around. That being said, we all have passports for the reasons stated in previous posts. If there was an emergency, we wanted them to be able to be flown back to the states.

Now that I think about it, maybe taking them with you to ports wouldn't be a bad idea. If by chance you missed the ship, you would be able to fly to meet it at the next port or to get home.

lilbug13
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Posted: 1/14/2013 9:20:29 PM
Yes, for the reasons spiffie gave.


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alisatj
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Posted: 1/14/2013 9:20:30 PM
The state dept website says:

Children: Beginning June 1, 2009, U.S. and Canadian citizen children under age 16 arriving by land or sea from contiguous territory may also present an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a Naturalization Certificate, or a Canadian Citizenship Card.

So I think it only becomes an issue if you have need of an emergency flight back to the US (like Spiffie mentioned). And, in that case, the passport card can't be used - it doesn't work for international air travel.

CnBsmommy
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Posted: 1/14/2013 9:20:37 PM
yes, ours have passports. Also, many states are not in compliance with the REal ID act & unless the extension to comply gets extended again, we'll need them to just get on a plane for ID.

SmartyPants71
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Posted: 1/14/2013 9:22:11 PM
I just got back from a cruise with DS. I did not get him a passport.

mdoc
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Posted: 1/14/2013 9:26:18 PM
I would get them. If you truly can't afford them, be sure to let your parents know you're NOT going to get them. It may be their expectation that you'll have them and it may be worth it to them to pay for your kids' passports for their own peace of mind. I wouldn't want to go on a cruise without passports. I've had a passport for over 25 years and I've never once needed it - but I want to have it in case I need it suddenly.


If you do decide to get the passports, you should know that both parents need to be present.


Not entirely true - you can get one with only one parent present but you need a notarized form from the other parent - but you definitely should be aware that the consent of both parents is required.

SDeven
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Posted: 1/14/2013 9:28:04 PM
Yes. It's just not a risk I'm willing to take.






~Manda~
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Posted: 1/14/2013 9:54:07 PM
If you can't afford passports, can you afford a medical (or other) emergency in a foreign country along with emergency travel arrangements?

Oddly enough, I had two friends recently who had medical emergencies in other countries. One of them had to get a private medical plane out of Mexico.. Not a fun or cheap experience and something to consider....

megan_in_pink
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Posted: 1/15/2013 7:24:32 AM
I would get them for te kids, if anything happenes it will cost you alot more to get home or take care of med needs.



PierKiss
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Posted: 1/15/2013 7:33:36 AM
I would probably go ahead and get them. The only reason we didn't get them for our kids when we went to St. Thomas this past summer is because we knew we would not be going to any other islands for day trips. If we were, we absolutely would have gotten them.



Peppermintpatty
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Posted: 1/15/2013 7:34:11 AM
Waste of money. If you don't plan on needing them for other trips, I wouldn't get them. I didn't for my kids, I got passport cards and you don't need them to get on and off the ships. They take your photos when you get on the ship. They need the card they give each person and for people over 18, they need a photo id. We got on and off without any problem.





amom23
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Posted: 1/15/2013 7:47:00 AM
We went to Canada on vacation last summer and while my youngest children didn't have to have a passport to drive over the border - we went ahead and got passports for them anyways. DH and I just felt better knowing that we all had them. Of course we'd also like to be able to do more traveling with the kids.


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Posted: 1/15/2013 7:53:41 AM
We went on an excursion in St. Thomas where we needed passports...I think it was a boat ride to Tortola. We had to have the passports in Tortola and knew that before we went.



Andrea

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Posted: 1/15/2013 7:54:07 AM
Yes. Just in case of an emergency.

WillowJane
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Posted: 1/15/2013 7:59:34 AM
To add from the State Department website:

    "Closed Loop" Cruises: U.S. citizens who board a cruise ship at a port within the United States, travel only within the Western Hemisphere, and return to the same U.S. port on the same ship may present a government issued photo identification, along with proof of citizenship (an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization). [bold]Please be aware that you may still be required to present a passport to enter the foreign countries your cruise ship is visiting. Check with your cruise line to ensure you have the appropriate documents. [/bold]


If it were me, I would spend the money and get the passports. You need to prepared for any possible emergency that may occur.

Madi & Me
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Posted: 1/15/2013 8:32:51 AM
The peas above me have done a great job of explaining why passports are a good idea so I'll just share my experience.

On DD's first cruise, she was 11 months old and we sailed without a passport for her. I will be the first to admit, I was a nervous wreck and the stress and worry wasn't worth it to me. When we booked our next cruise, we applied for her passport right away. It's an upfront investment that is truly invaluable the moment you need it. Of the several cruises we've been on, we have seen emergencies more than once, including a medevac from the deck of the ship.

FWIW, others have mentioned needing a passport to get on and off the ship. I have not experienced that at all.

Happy sailing!

PS - I know some may think this is a silly idea but if you are responsible for paying for your own excursions, I'd bow out of an excursion day at one port just to afford some or all of the cost of the passports. This doesn't mean you can't get off the ship and walk around the port, though. Just a thought...

scrappower
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Posted: 1/15/2013 8:50:31 AM
I would not leave the country without a passport anymore. Just too risky.



bear_mom
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Posted: 1/15/2013 9:07:41 AM

We went to Canada on vacation last summer and while my youngest children didn't have to have a passport to drive over the border - we went ahead and got passports for them anyways. DH and I just felt better knowing that we all had them. Of course we'd also like to be able to do more traveling with the kids.


We didn't necessarily need them to get into Canada when travelling over Thanksgiving. We did need them, however, to get back into the US.

Going into Canada the boarder crossing agent just asked us a few questions and asked for ID for dh and I. Nothing for dds (13 and 10). When coming back into the US, the border agent asked specifically for everyone's passport, asked dh to roll down the back windows so he could see dds, and asked everyone questions.

Emily

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Posted: 1/15/2013 11:22:34 AM
We go into Canada almost every summer. We have a similar experience to Emily every time.

It takes about an hour to get a passport. You go to the local post office. Be aware that some post offices need you to make an appointment, as it's one employee working with you for that hour.

The initial cost is pricey, but then you have everything done. Kids renew every 5 years, adults every 10. Get them done now so that you aren't paying more for special processing to rush them.

It's $40 for the card, $105 for the book and $120 for both. We have both because when we go into Canada, I only take the cards. When we fly internationally, you need the book. It's also handy to have ID on me for DS, who is 15 but looks much older. He doesn't always carry his wallet, and it's nice to have easy proof with me.

http://travel.state.gov/passport/fees/fees_837.html


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Posted: 1/15/2013 11:37:02 AM
I know it's a GREAT idea to have them, but that expense would give me pause as well. It's easy to say do it. Paying for it is a whole 'nother ball of wax.

I would get two kids passports this year (they're good for five years the first time, I think?) and if you go on another cruise next year, get the other two.

Then you're set for a while and you've spread out the money!

CosmosGreenTornado
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Posted: 1/15/2013 12:00:50 PM
Yes. Get them. We had to have them for our Alaskan cruise (Canadian waters and a landing in Canada)

Better to have and not need...

They are spendy, but not terrible.


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sunny 5
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Posted: 1/15/2013 12:30:41 PM
my kids have had passports since they have been small. as they are older now, they whip out the passport to verify citizenship for employment, they have used them for overseas trips and used them for id when getting a permit or id card at the motor vehicle dept.


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Posted: 1/15/2013 12:55:36 PM
Last cruise I was on a woman in our group had a serious fall while on an excursion in Costa Rica. She broke her hip, which required transport to the local hospital and then surgery. Needless to say, the ship left without her. Unfortunately she was traveling with her birth certificate only. So not only did she have to deal with getting medical care in a foreign country, she had to deal with a visit to the embassy or consulate to obtain whatever emergency documents she needed to travel back to the U.S.

A passport card would not have helped much in this case by the way, as they are only valid for land or sea entry back into the U.S, not air. link

Whatever you decide to do about the passports, I hope you have a fun cruise!


~ Jennifer

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Posted: 1/15/2013 2:17:36 PM
All five of us always have a valid passport. I would not travel abroad without one. My luck is such that the one time I don't have them, I'd need them.


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Posted: 1/15/2013 2:27:54 PM
We took all 4 kids on a cruise 2 years ago and yes, we got passports for all 4.

Do it.



I-95
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Posted: 1/15/2013 3:11:11 PM

I got passport cards and you don't need them to get on and off the ships. They take your photos when you get on the ship. They need the card they give each person and for people over 18, they need a photo id. We got on and off without any problem.


It is true that you don't need to present your passport, or passport card, to get on and off the ship at the ports you call at, BUT, if you hadn't presented it when you went through check in, before you boarded a ship that is stopping at a foreign post, they would never have let you on the ship.

We discovered this on a Bahamas cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale. I got the kids and my stuff together, asked DH if he was packed and had his passport....he was like yeah, yeah, yeah, it's handled. Turns out it wasn't. He left it sitting on the dresser at home...we turned around and drove back to Orlando. No cruise for us that time...I should have just taken the kids and gone on board, leaving his sorry ass on the dock!

mamastew
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Posted: 1/15/2013 8:20:19 PM

I would not leave the country without a passport anymore. Just too risky.


I agree. My kids have had them for years too.



kmoller
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Posted: 1/16/2013 12:02:46 AM
You may be leaving and returning to the same port, and perhaps I missed something, but will you not be disembarking at any other ports of call? Entry requirements vary by country, and it's better to have the passport. My vote = get a passport for everyone.
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Monklady123
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Posted: 1/16/2013 3:19:57 AM
Yes, add me to the "get the passports" list. I would never leave this country to go anywhere without that passport in hand. Including Canada. You just never know what might happen. I'm also one who carries mine with me when I'm out sightseeing in a foreign city, rather than leave it in a hotel safe. I do leave a copy of it back at the hotel but I want that passport right there with me. Again, you just never know what might happen where you'd have to leave suddenly and not be able to get back to your passport. Unlikely perhaps, but I've been in enough "situations" overseas that have caused me to want that peace of mind.



jennifw
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Posted: 1/16/2013 6:29:38 AM
Add me to the list saying "get the passports"

You made a comment about not paying for the cruise. Consider the $400 you will pay for the passports your cost. Pretty inexpensive way to go on a cruise.

tiffanyo
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Posted: 1/16/2013 12:14:38 PM
My husband was stationed in Korea and we went to visit so my son already had one when we went on our cruise.

I absolutely would have gotten one if he didn't though. You would only need it in an emergency, but if you are already in an emergency situation do you really want another major thing to worry about?
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TravelAgent
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Posted: 1/16/2013 12:54:30 PM
You do NOT need a passport to get off at the ports. And I verify that with each cruise line every year just to make sure someone doesn't sneak in a new internal policy on me.

During a cruise that starts and ends at the same US port (meaning you don't need a passport), a passport means if an emergency comes up, you can go to the nearest airport and fly. A passport card won't help you ... it has to be the real McCoy in order to get on a plane. So if, for instance, you get word that your MIL died, the kids would have to finish the cruise because they don't have a passport to fly home with. Or, say you miss the ship's departure in port. Those with passports can fly to the next island on the itinerary. Those without are stuck and hanging out at the US Embassy to solve the situation.



So, to assess your risk, look at your itinerary and who you are with. If it's a 5-day cruise, and you get bad news on day 3, would you even realistically fly home or just wait until you're back on US soil anyhow? Do you have insurance that would pay to fly you home and if not, could you even afford a same-day one-way ticket from Cozumel? If it's a week and you find out about a death or severe illness or your house burned down on day 2, does that change your answer?

Are you the conscientious kind who isn't likely to miss the ship? Yah, accidents do happen and people don't get their watches synchronized, etc. But that's 99% preventable. (Most people who missed a ship that I've heard of were A) freelancing their activities and fell into the hands of unscrupulous vendors who took them to the other side of the island and then got a flat tire, etc. or B ) got drunk at Senor Frog.
)

The good thing about buying passports is that they are available for years in case another out-of-the-country trip pops up. But if you don't have the money, then you have to be realistic about your risks and situation.

Hope that helps.

Julie



TravelAgent
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Posted: 1/16/2013 12:59:20 PM

BUT, if you hadn't presented it when you went through check in, before you boarded a ship that is stopping at a foreign post, they would never have let you on the ship.

We discovered this on a Bahamas cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale. I got the kids and my stuff together, asked DH if he was packed and had his passport....he was like yeah, yeah, yeah, it's handled. Turns out it wasn't. He left it sitting on the dresser at home...we turned around and drove back to Orlando. No cruise for us that time...I should have just taken the kids and gone on board, leaving his sorry ass on the dock!


It's true you can't just show a driver's license and board. But you don't have to have a passport to get on the ship. I've done it three times by presenting my official birth certificate from our state health department and a photo id (driver's license). If you have those official birth certificates (the cruise line's website will list in great detail what they accept), you board.

The problem is that many people don't carry an official birth certificate any more than they do a passport every day, so they are denied boarding at the counter. It happened to the guy in front of me at check-in last February.

Julie



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Posted: 1/16/2013 7:30:16 PM
Some cruise lines will not let you board unless you have a current (unexpired and will not expire during cruise) passport.


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