I need advice. I know that having a passport book is the best travel document. I know that i can't fly home with a passport card, but due to unforeseen circumstances we just can't afford the books for all of our travelers. We were planning on just using certified bc and drivers licenses, but now having some anxiety over this. I am worried that at the port something will go "wrong" and our birth certificates will be denied although they did come from vital statistics of our state. Maybe I am just a worrier but...I am wondering in this situation will we be better off with the passport cards. I know that essentially these are the same as a birth cert. and dl in the fact that we can't fly with them, but we shouldn't be turned away from the port if we have the cards, right? I also read that in the event we were to need to fly home that having the card already would make it easier to obtain a book. Please let me know what would be best other than a passport book. oh we will be leaving and returning to miami and going to the eastern caribbean and I only have 3 1/2 months. HELP!!!!
Welcome to the cruisereviews.com message board! Sounds like you've already done a lot of research, which is great. If it were me, and a passport wasn't an option, I'd go with the passport card. You will need to mail in your certified BC to get one, so it's good that you have some time. Also, even if you have the passport card, bring your BC and DL as back-up, just in case.
Another consideration is how often you will use it. If you take a lot of cruises into and out of the U.S., it may be worth it. If you live near a border crossing and frequently travel by car between countries, it may also be worth it. (In fact, the latter was the original intent.) Yet, if you do a lot of flying, the passport is the better option. In my case, for instance, I fly with a passport even domestically in case there is a cancellation and there's a chance for a re-routing through Toronto. (I live in the Northeast U.S. where there are several such flights a day.) Of course, I'm digressing as a passport is not possible for you now, but something to consider for the future.
The cruise line doesn't matter... you'll be dealing with the Department of Homeland security, which oversees everything.
You still have time to get a passport. We in Canada have no choice, it's a passport or nothning. The cost of getting one is peanuts compare to the hassel that you may encounter. My family have alway gotten a pass port for the past 60 years. I make my kids get one all the time as well and they have never use it as they have never travel outside of Canada, but who know, maybe one day they will. We also use these pass port as ID at the banks and other places that require photo ID. Our advice is to get your pass ports and then you will never have any worry. Our view is if you want to travel the cost of a pass port is nothning compare to the cost of a cruise or trip. This is only our views and we know other people will disagree and that's fine. THanks for reading this.
Maybe I misunderstood the original question. If it is what I think it is, it will be Carnival employees checking you in for the cruise. Birth Certificate from the Dept of Vital Statistics as stated is fine for this along with Driver's License. The people that have been turned away recently have been those using BC's from hospitals etc. which are not acceptable. I have been cruising for nearly 20 years with my BC without any problems. And mine isn't even a conventional one, but a plastic credit card type thing. It has the magic words on it though. Issued by Virginia Department of Vital Statistics.
They don't check anything to get off the ship in ports. You simply "ping" out with your Sail & Sign card on the A-PASS machine. To get back on the ship you need your Driver's License and Sail & Sign card.
Now, if something unfortunate (missing the ship) were to happen in a foreign port a Passport Card would certainly help expedite matters it would seem to me. In fact I got one for this very purpose to carry off the ship.
Unless you are going to do a lot of boarder crossings into Mexico or Canada, the Passport Card is a waste of money in my opinion. If you don't have the cash for the true Passport, then the BC's will work fine still. Yes, you run the risk of having a hassle should you have to fly home from the cruise, but the chances are small of this happening and there has to be procedures in place for this as they have been using BC's forever for cruises.. long before the passport requirements changed.
Just make sure they are true birth certificates from vital statistics (which you said your's were) with a raised seal. If you have a different name (married name) it wouldn't hurt to have a copy of your marriage license to prove who you are. Carnival will let you on the ship with these things and customs will let you back into the country when you return.
Yes, we always suggest you get a passport, but I can also understand the expense involved. For a large family it can be as costly as the cruise....
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Last edited by Dave; 02-21-2011 at 02:23 PM.
Reason: change passport to birth certificate