Carnival Confirms Travel Documents for Norfolk to Baltimore Cruise

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Carnival Cruise Line has responded to guests’ questions and confirmed what travel documents are necessary for Carnival Pride‘s May 19, 2024 departure that is now planned to leave from Norfolk, Virginia but return to Baltimore, Maryland.

Typically, when a cruise ship leaves from one US homeport but returns to a different homeport, passports are required. For this one sailing, however, passports are not required.

The cruise line’s Brand Ambassador, John Heald, confirmed the travel documentation requirements as they apply to this one unique cruise.

“I had many of you writing to me last week who are booked to cruise on the Carnival Pride and referencing the fact that if we sail from Norfolk but return you to Baltimore and if a passport is therefore needed,” Heald said. “The answer is no. No passported is needed on the cruise of the May 19th voyage.”

The question is a legitimate one. Even on Carnival Cruise Line’s website, the policy on passports is clearly stated:

“A passport book or passport card (valid for at least six months beyond the completion of travel) is required for the following cruises – cruises that begin and end in a different US port.”

Large passport book vs standard
US Passport (Photo Credit: Lori Barbely / Shutterstock)

While Heald does not clarify exactly why there is an exception for Carnival Pride‘s May 19 departure, there could be several factors. Because Carnival Pride operating from Norfolk, Virginia is a temporary situation, the ship’s original plan to depart from Baltimore may still apply for travel documentation needs.

The cruise line may also have already arranged for exemptions to the documentation requirement when possible in this unprecedented situation following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and the closure of the Port of Baltimore at the end of March.

Travelers booked on the May 19 departure were only informed on May 9 that their cruise would begin in Norfolk but end in Baltimore. If booked guests do not already have passports, it would be virtually impossible to apply for and receive official passports in less than 10 days.

According to the US Department of State, typical passport processing time is 6-8 weeks, though processing can be expedited to just 2-3 weeks for extra fees. There is also an urgent service if individuals have international travel within 14 days, but this requires an in-person appointment at a passport agency.

Processing times do not include the time for new passports to be mailed to the individuals.

It should be noted that guests on the next sailing of Carnival Pride – the May 26 departure – are required to have passports. This is because that 14-night Carnival Journeys cruise is to Greenland, which always requires a valid passport for any sailing, regardless of which homeport the ship departs from or returns to.

Carnival Pride in Baltimore
Carnival Pride Sailing Under the Francis Scott Key Bridge (Photo Credit: Larry Syverson / Flickr)

Why Sail Without Passports?

Travelers who have booked closed-loop cruises – those that begin and end in the same US homeport – typically do not need to have a passport, so long as the ship is not visiting Greenland or Colombia.

While Carnival Cruise Line does recommend that guests have valid passports, which can make emergency situations much easier if a traveler must depart the ship in a foreign country, not all passengers choose to get this type of documentation.

For example, if a guest is not a frequent traveler, a passport may not be a concern if they feel they will not be using it regularly. Similarly, a passport may be a significant expense, particularly if several family members are traveling and everyone would need new passports.

While others may argue that passports are valid for 10 years and there fore the per-year cost is not extreme, it should be noted that there are no payment plans for passports, and the full cost must be paid up front.

Read Also: Do I Need a Passport to Go on a Cruise? – Full Guide

Do Kids Need a Passport to Go on a Cruise
Do Kids Need a Passport to Go on a Cruise (Photo Credit: goodmoments)

For a family of four with two children under the age of 16, first-time new passports for everyone would cost $590 just for the processing. If expedited service is required, that would add another $240 for a total of $830. Shipping costs would add even more, depending on the postage options chosen.

When travelers may not know whether they will enjoy a cruise, or if they aren’t planning additional travel in the next few years, it may not be cost effective to pay for passports for a single sailing.

Furthermore, some travelers may be ineligible for passports, such as if they owe back taxes or are behind on student loan or child support payments. Certain felony convictions can also disqualify individuals from obtaining a passport.

Ultimately, every traveler is responsible to ensure they have the proper documentation for their cruise travel, whether or not they opt to have a passport.

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