One of the most common questions I'm asked about traveling on the Disney Cruise Line (DCL) to the Bahamas and Caribbean is "Do I need a passport?" The most basic answer for most US Citizens is "No." However, traveling abroad without one is highly discouraged and thus, my answer is always a resounding "Yes."
It's important to remember that if you are traveling abroad from your home you are subject to the laws and customs of the country you are visiting. Contrary to popular belief, the Disney Cruise Line is not a little piece of America at sea. The Disney Cruise Line ships are flagged in the Bahamas, while on board you will be subject to Bahamian and International Maritime Law, as well as those laws of the country where you are in port.
For U.S. citizens a passport is not required for travel on closed loop cruises (a closed loop cruise is one that that both departs from and returns to a U.S. port). Exact identification requirements for all travelers sailing onboard the Disney Cruise Line can be found at the Passport & Documentation Page on the DCL website. However, if any sort of emergency were to occur while overseas, you would not be allowed to fly home without one. That is true whether the unlikely event is one where the ship is at fault, or a personal or medical emergency. All air travel into the U.S. from foreign countries requires a valid book-style passport. Therefore, both the Disney Cruise Line and I highly recommend that guests of all ages traveling onboard DCL have a valid passport to offer an extra level of security while visiting overseas.
Passport Cards may be used as identification cards. However, like any other state issued ID, they can not be used to fly home in an emergency from any foreign port. Therefore, optimum choice is to have a book-style passport book.
The time it will take to get a passport once you have applied can vary greatly, and it is not uncommon for the process to take 8 - 10 weeks to complete. The Disney Cruise Line asks that all of it's guests provide their passport number a minimum of 75 days prior to your cruise departure date and it is each guests responsibility to acquire proper citizenship documentation (e.g., passport and/or green card). Passport numbers can then be entered on the Disney Cruise Line website under the travel documents "My Passport" page.
United States citizens can visit the U.S. State Department's travel website at http://travel.state.gov/ or call the U.S. National Passport Information Center at (877) 4USA-PPT (487-2778) for more information. Citizens of Canada can visit the Passport Canada site at http://www.ppt.gc.ca for more information to guide you through the application process for obtaining a Canadian passport.
Travel safe my friends!