Cruise travelers can easily be confused about whether or not to take their official documents – passport, visas, and other travel identification – ashore in ports of call. Carnival Cruise Line has shared its recommendation to reassure guests with guidance about what documentation travelers should and should not carry ashore.
Traveling With a Passport – Where Is It?
Many cruise travelers, especially those who set sail frequently, use an official passport as their identification to check-in and board the ship. While this can be very useful, what should be done with that passport when visiting different countries for various ports of call?
Some passengers prefer to keep their passport close at hand and take it off the ship in each port, while others lock their passports in their stateroom safe. In response to guest questions, Carnival Cruise Line has now clarified its policies to help travelers decide which option is best.
“There has recently been a discussion on what to do with your passport when leaving the ship in port. Some people say you should bring your passport with you at all times in a foreign country, and others have said you are supposed to leave your passport in your cabin’s safe,” a guest asked the cruise line’s brand ambassador, John Heald. “What should people do with their travel documents while in port?”
The inquiry cited the example of a medical emergency onshore when a guest might need their passport if there is a risk they could miss the ship.
“It’s a very very good question and when this is asked, it’s always a good time for me to remind everybody what we recommend,” Heald responded. “You should not take your original passport with you when you go ashore.”
Many guests will carry a photocopy of their passport, and while this is not considered official, it could be helpful in case of an emergency. A driver’s license, military ID, or other photo identification is sufficient for showing to security guards when entering or leaving port areas in a port of call. Guests should also carry their Sail & Sign card, as that is necessary to scan on and off the ship.
Read Also: Do Kids Need a Passport to Go on a Cruise?
Heald did clarify what Carnival Cruise Line’s official actions would be if a guest were to miss the ship, whether for a medical emergency or simply being late and at risk of getting left behind when the ship departs.
“In case of an emergency which meant you could not return to the ship we do indeed have a policy in place,” Heald explained. “Your passport would be collected from the guest cabin (including retrieving it from the safe) and by our housekeeping officers, a Guest Services officer, and someone from our security team.”
“We would then return the passport to the ship’s agent. We have one in every single port who takes care of the ship’s needs during the time there. The agent would return the original passport to you.”
Ideally, the ship’s agent would have very little to do when a Carnival ship is in port, but in reality, they must always be alert to the possibility of late guests who may miss the ship and need assistance. This might happen due to a medical emergency, confusion about the ship’s departure time, potentially reckless behavior, or other unknown circumstances.
Why Not Take Your Passport Ashore?
Some guests question why they shouldn’t take their passports ashore, as the official documentation would be essential to make additional travel plans if travelers must leave the ship. In the case of a medical emergency, needing to return to the cruise port to pick up one’s passport could be just another hassle.
The likelihood of being left ashore and needing one’s passport, however, is very slight. Cruise ships all over the world visit different ports of call every day, and the vast majority of ships depart those ports on time and with all passengers and crew accounted for.
What is far more likely, however, is accidentally losing one’s passport or other identification while ashore. A misplaced bag, a picked pocket, a purse left behind in a tour bus or taxi – any of those incidents could result in a now missing passport.
Furthermore, a passport could easily be damaged while on a beach or water excursion, which could cause problems the next time the document must be presented for official inspection.
Overall, it is safer to leave one’s passport securely onboard the cruise ship, in a place where it can be easily located in case of an emergency – the stateroom safe is ideal, and can be locked with an individual pin or code the guest sets.
What identification do you take off the ship in ports of call? Where do you keep your passport? Share your travel ID tips on the Cruise Hive boards!