A hot topic among our readers during the Carnival Triumph incident has resurfaced since news broke of the fire aboard Royal Caribbean‘s Grandeur of the Seas. Cruisers are exempt from needing passports if they are on “closed loop” sailings — sailings that start and finish in the same U.S. homeport. So the question remains: Should everyone start cruising with a passport?
Let’s start with what happens to passengers who don’t have passports, in the event of a cruise ship emergency…
You can safely set aside rumors that passengers are left stranded in foreign countries if they lack proper identification. Despite the mounds of paperwork and headaches sometimes endured when trying to obtain an emergency travel document, rest assured — cruise lines won’t leave you behind if an unexpected disembarkation is required.
Passengers onboard Grandeur of the Seas luckily faced no difficulties getting back to the states. Cynthia Martinez, director of global corporate communications for Royal Caribbean International, told Cruise Critic the line has been working closely with the Bahamas immigration department to get passengers back to Baltimore in a timely manner. Even those who didn’t wish to fly are being accommodated with ferry rides to Fort Lauderdale, from which they will have the option to continue by train, bus or rental car.
Of course, the downside to not having a passport is that a swift departure is not guaranteed. Lesser, more isolated incidents have left passengers stranded for longer than anticipated, and — unless you can see the glass half full in this case — it’s not a pleasant scene.
Whether your ticket home involves a plane, ferry or hopping onboard a nearby cruise ship, the $135 for a passport might be worth schilling out. Sure, the extra fee doesn’t sound attractive when you’re trying to book the most “bang for your buck.” But if you look at it from an insurance point of view, the $1 a month for a 10-year validity might not seem so bad if an emergency were to happen.
Where do you stand when it comes to cruising with a passport? Take the poll, discuss in the comments below and chime in on our message boards.
To see what others are saying about the current passport situation on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, follow our Message Boards.
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