You’ve booked a cruise, and now you’re wondering what you need to bring.  Besides the obvious items like a swimsuit, sunscreen and hat, there are several important documents you’ll need to bring with you on your cruise.  Here are three documents you must have on your cruise:

Cruise documents

A few weeks before your cruise, you’ll receive your cruise documents in the mail or you’ll be directed to print them out at home.  The number of documents you’ll receive varies depending on the cruise line, so contact your cruise line to make sure you have all of the necessary documents.  These cruise documents will tell you when and where to board the ship, the ship you’ll be traveling on and other important embarkation information.  Also, be sure to fill out and attach your luggage tags to all pieces of luggage you won’t be carrying on the ship with you.  Filling out all of the information will help ensure that your luggage gets to your stateroom in a timely manner the first night of your cruise.

Passport, ID or visa

To board any cruise that travels outside of the United States (including to the Caribbean, Mexico or Canada), you’ll be required to provide proof of citizenship.  The easiest and most common form of ID to bring with you is a passport.  If you don’t already have a passport, it’s advised that you get one prior to cruising.  It’s important to note that most cruise lines require that your passport is valid for six months after you complete your trip.  United States permanent residents must have their U.S. permanent resident card.  A passport from your home country is also strongly recommended.

If you’re traveling on a closed-loop cruise, meaning your cruise starts and ends at the same port, you can use your government-issued birth certificate and a photo ID as your proof of identification.  If a child is a newborn and the birth certificate hasn’t arrived prior to the cruise, most cruise lines will accept a hospital-issued birth certificate. If you’re traveling with children, there may be additional required documents depending on the region you’re sailing to.

Some Caribbean ports require a passport to enter the country, so make sure you check with your cruise line, travel agent or destination country to confirm the requirements for entry into the foreign countries you’ll be visiting.

Health documents

Prior to boarding, all travelers must ensure that they are medically and physically fit for travel.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) provide guidelines as to which vaccinations are required for each country.  In many cases, vaccinations are recommended, but in some cases they’re required.  Additionally, most cruise lines will require that you sign documents at check-in stating that you’re not currently sick and haven’t been sick in the past week.

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