6 Places to Cruise Without a Passport

Closed-loop cruises to Bermuda, Mexico and elsewhere offer international travel without the need for a passport.
Ramsey Qubein
By Ramsey Qubein 
Updated
Edited by Meg Lee

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If you thought you needed a passport to head overseas on every single trip, think again. Those long waits for passport applications or renewals, even if you finally secured an in-person appointment, aren't needed for some cruise vacations. 

The secret: closed-loop cruises. These are cruises that depart from a U.S. port, visit other countries, then return to a U.S. port of entry.

Instead of a passport, passengers will need to carry a valid U.S. driver’s license and proof of citizenship (a birth certificate or certificate of U.S. naturalization should suffice). Here are six cruises that don’t require a passport.

1. Alaska-Canada

Wait a minute, you’re thinking. Alaska is a U.S. state. True, but Alaskan cruises can sometimes make stops in parts of British Columbia, like Victoria. If so, you can still visit as long as the cruise you take begins and ends in the U.S. 

Alaska is a popular vacation destination for its majestic scenery, glacier-filled landscape and outdoor adventures from dog-sledding to helicopter rides over the mountains. Seeing this part of the country by ship is one of the most convenient and beautiful ways to get around.

You can also find Alaskan cruises that start and end in Vancouver, British Columbia, which don't technically qualify as passportless cruises unless you cross the border from the U.S. into Canada by land using two pieces of approved government identification: an enhanced driver’s license (currently available to residents of Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington state only) and a U.S. birth certificate.

With those two approved documents and traveling overland into Canada, it is possible to do a one-way cruise starting or ending in Vancouver as an American without a passport. Note that flying across the border would require a passport, however.

Royal Caribbean’s seven-night Northbound Alaska & Hubbard Glacier cruise aboard Radiance of the Seas, for example, departs from Vancouver and disembarks in Seward, Alaska.

2. The Bahamas

The Bahamas is a Caribbean nation of islands and a popular cruise destination. Because of its proximity to the U.S., there are often shorter three-night cruises from Florida that make it easy to snag a good deal on a whim. Plus, it qualifies as an option for cruises without passports.

For many people without or in between passport applications, it can be disappointing to have to ignore last-minute deals. That’s no longer the case when you take advantage of cruises you can go on without a passport.

There's excellent shopping, dining and water sports activities in many ports like Nassau and Freeport. Another popular option is buying a day pass to mega resorts like Baha Mar and Atlantis, both of which welcome cruise visitors for the day.

Three-day cruises aboard Carnival Conquest depart Miami for the Bahamas, but return back to Miami. This means U.S. passengers don't need a passport for this closed-loop sailing.

3. Bermuda

Cruises to Bermuda are almost always closed-loop sailings from a U.S. port, save for a few transatlantic trips. This means you can visit the British territory without the worry of having a valid passport.

Bermuda has beautiful golf courses, historic forts and excellent dining. Many cruises overnight here to give passengers time to get out and explore. 

There are sailings aboard Celebrity Cruise Line's Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Eclipse that don't require passports as they depart a U.S. port, travel to Bermuda for a few nights, then return to a U.S. port.

4. U.S. Northeast-Canada

If you’re looking for culture and history in the northeast, cruises that depart New England for parts of Canada are a great option.

Closed-loop cruises that depart and end in the U.S. negate the need for a passport (despite stops in Canadian ports), and like Alaskan cruises, one-way sailings remain an option if you choose to drive across the U.S.-Canada border and hold an enhanced driver’s license to cross.

From urban destinations like Boston and Halifax to picturesque destinations like Bar Harbor, Maine, and Saint John, New Brunswick, cruises like these trade palm trees and sunscreen for evergreens and rain jackets. This itinerary on Celebrity's Celebrity Summit ship doesn't require a passport because of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

5. Other Caribbean islands

There are a lot of options when it comes to visiting Caribbean islands.

U.S. cruise ports line the coastline including places like:

  • Florida:

    • Fort Lauderdale.

    • Miami.

    • Port Canaveral.

    • Tampa.

  • Galveston, Texas.

  • Mobile, Alabama. 

  • New Orleans.

As long as your cruise departs and returns to a U.S. port, you won’t need to bring a passport.

Various cruises that depart locations like these visit several islands in the region, including:

  • Aruba.

  • Curacao. 

  • Dominica.

  • Grand Cayman.

  • Jamaica.

  • St. Maarten.

Aside from water sports and outdoor adventure, you can visit markets, explore historic sites, meander through the town center on some islands and discover what makes the Caribbean a diverse region.

If you are wary about taking advantage of this benefit (perhaps some people in your party have a passport and others don’t), consider a cruise to U.S. island territories instead. These include Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John). Traveling by plane or ship to these island paradise destinations is considered a domestic trip. 

Carnival offers many Caribbean cruise options including sailings that depart and return to U.S. ports like Baltimore, Norfolk and New Orleans. These don't require a passport as they are closed-loop sailings.

6. Mexico

You can find cruises from either U.S. coast to Mexico with its glittering beaches, historic landmarks and incredible cuisine.

As long as the ship you are taking departs and returns to a U.S. port, these are some of the cruises that don’t require a passport. Passport-free, you can visit ports like:

  • Cancun.

  • Cozumel.

  • Mazatlan.

  • Cabo San Lucas.

  • Puerto Vallarta. 

This four-night departure aboard Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas makes a visit to Cozumel before returning back to Texas.

Book smart: Get travel insurance

Before you embark on any sort of trip, consider travel insurance, which can protect your nonrefundable deposit in case something derails your plans. Purchasing cruise travel insurance or booking your trip with a credit card that includes coverage can also mitigate the risks of travel emergencies.

Some travel cards also offer cruise benefits, so it can be a smart money move to book your trip with a card that offers these perks along with travel insurance. Here are some cards that offer cruise and travel insurance perks:

Cards with cruise perks
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Chase's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Bank of America's website

The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Annual fee

$95.

$95.

$95.

$695.

Welcome offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Receive 60,000 online bonus points - a $600 value - after you make at least $4,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Cruise and travel insurance benefits

• Get 25% more value out of your points when you book cruises through Chase.

• Book with your card to get automatic travel protections for your cruise.

• Redeem miles as a statement credit to cover spending on cruises.

• Book with your card to get automatic travel insurance coverage for your cruise.

• Earn 2x points on travel spending, including cruises and some ship excursions.

• Book with your card to get trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation coverage and other travel assistance services.

• Get American Express Cruise Privileges Program benefits when you book at least five nights with eligible cruise lines.

• Cruise program benefits include $300 credit redeemable toward dining and spa services plus amenities like wine, chocolates and champagne.

• Book with your card to get trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation coverage and other travel assistance services.

Terms apply.

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There are many more credit cards that offer travel insurance so if you're thinking about relying on a card to protect your cruise, it can be a good step to get familiarized with your options so the your trip is covered.

You can also purchase a standalone travel insurance policy if you feel that the protections provided by the card aren't sufficient. Either way, being aware of your options can bring some peace of mind, and not having to bring a passport to one of these destinations can make going on the trip even simpler.

Can you cruise without a passport?

Yes, there are several cruises without passport requirements that you can book. This is welcome news for those whose passports may have expired, for families who want to opt out of buying short-term passports for children, or haven't had a chance to renew their passport. 

However, it is preferable to have a passport with you (in the event you need medical care and have to stay in the country, for example). Being aware of your travel insurance options can also be a smart money move. Also check if the credit card you already have offers travel insurance or consider getting a card that includes this coverage for free.

A cruise is an easy way to visit many new places without having to unpack and pack again. When you discover a place you want to return to, you can plan another trip, perhaps with a new passport in hand.


AMERICAN EXPRESS DISCLAIMERS

Insurance Benefit: Trip Delay Insurance

  • Up to $500 per Covered Trip that is delayed for more than 6 hours; and 2 claims per Eligible Card per 12 consecutive month period.

  • Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply.

  • Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details.

  • Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

Insurance Benefit: Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance

  • The maximum benefit amount for Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance is $10,000 per Covered Trip and $20,000 per Eligible Card per 12 consecutive month period.

  • Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply.

  • Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details.

  • Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

Cards for Cruises from our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Points
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card

on Bank of America's website

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
4.2
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5x-2x

Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Receive 60,000 online bonus points - a $600 value - after you make at least $4,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Points
See more cards for cruises
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