As luck would have it, you’ve suddenly got a few open days in your schedule and a yearning to travel somewhere exotic. Don’t let your lack of a passport stop you. Consider a cruise. If you take closed loop cruises (meaning your trip begins and ends at a U.S. port), you can sail to a variety of dreamy destinations as a U.S. citizen without a passport.
For “closed-loop” cruises, U.S. citizens will need to provide:
- A boarding pass
- A government photo I.D. if 16 years of age or older
- And a certified birth certificate or certificate of U.S. naturalization
Starting and ending in Seattle or San Francisco, an Alaskan cruise takes you to charming waterfront cities and villages like Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. In Alaska, also known as the Land of the Midnight Sun, you can see spectacular, icy glaciers by boat or seaplane, watch for whales and try your hand at dog sledding.
A stop in Victoria, British Columbia offers a whole new set of adventures. Visit castles, take a ride on a horse-drawn trolley, stroll through beautiful Butchart Gardens or get your fill of shopping and dining downtown. When you arrive back in Seattle or San Francisco, take time to explore those cities for even more vacation fun.
You can cruise to The Bahamas from a number of U.S. ports along the Atlantic Coast. Located just southeast of Miami in the Atlantic Ocean, The Bahamas offers an ideal island getaway. With soft-sand beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and pastel-colored British colonial architecture, the Bahamian capital of Nassau makes a popular port of call for cruisers. In Freeport, you can shop till you drop at the Port Lucaya Marketplace or kayak through the mangroves at Lucayan National Park. At the south end of the island of Eleuthera, Princess Cays offers island resort living at its finest.
If you’re looking for cruises that don’t require a passport, take a round trip sail to Bermuda from New York City, Baltimore, Charleston or one of two Florida ports of call. As Britain’s oldest colony, Bermuda offers wonderful historic attractions and plenty of opportunities for fun in the sun. Pink-sand beaches, beautiful blue waters and colorful coral reefs deliver the perfect recipe for sunning, swimming, sailing and snorkeling. Cap off a day of adventure in Bermuda with a sunset rum-tasting cruise.
New England and Canada
If you’re looking for a different kind of cruise, explore parts of New England and Canada with New York City as an exciting starting and ending point. Spend a day soaking up history in Boston, Massachusetts, and tour the Charles River aboard an amphibious duck vehicle. Experience lighthouses, lobster bakes and craggy sea cliffs in Portland, Maine, and enjoy a trip to Saint John, a beautiful city on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada. A stop in the charming fishing village of Halifax, Nova Scotia offers beautiful gardens, more delicious seafood and double-decker bus tours. After you pull into port in the Big Apple, make sure to see a Broadway show, visit the Empire State Building and take a stroll through Central Park.
The Caribbean makes a popular destination for travelers considering a tropical cruise. For an easy round trip, you can begin and end in a number of U.S. cities including New York City, Galveston, Mobile, New Orleans and Tampa.
Western Caribbean locales in Mexico like Yucatán and Cozumel deliver exciting attractions, from ancient Mayan ruins to flamingo lagoons, and activities like swimming with dolphins, dune buggy rides, sailing, snorkeling, diving and zip lining.
In the Eastern Caribbean, find dream destinations like Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic and Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos archipelago. In Amber Cove, you can tour the Dominican outback, soak up the sun on Coconut Cove Beach, or ride the Waterfalls of Rio de Damajagua. On Grand Turk, enjoy swimming with stingrays, riding horses along the coast, or touring the island by ATV. The opportunities for adventure on a Caribbean cruise are endless.
When it comes to domestic cruises, nothing beats a trip to Hawaii. Explore beautiful spots spread across Maui, Kauai and the Big Island, and drink in the natural beauty only Hawaii delivers. On this exciting trip, you can deep sea fish for marlin, explore forest caves and waterfalls, soak up the sun on a black-sand beach and attend a traditional luau. U.S. departure ports for enjoyable Hawaiian cruises include San Francisco, San Diego, Long Beach and Honolulu.
Depart from the Californian cities of San Francisco, San Diego or Long Beach for a quick but memorable cruise to the Baja Peninsula in northern Mexico. Along the way, stop by Catalina Island for a day packed full of outdoor enjoyment. Kayak in and out of secret coves, zip line through the trees or try parasailing. In Ensenada, the “Cinderella of the Pacific,” you can ride horses along mountain trails, tour the wine country, shop for souvenirs and taste the local tequila.
When traveling outside of the U.S. a passport is always recommended, but cruises are the exception to the rule. As long as you book a closed loop cruise, you can travel to certain destinations without a passport. Because international cruises in Europe and Asia require air travel, these vacations also demand a passport. When embarking on adventures by sea that don’t require a passport, make sure you have the proper cruise documentation.