Originally Posted by suzybeezy
Going on my first cruise in September on Carnival Freedom to Key West, Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios. Doing a lot of research so I am well prepared and informed prior to departure. Unsure about whether I need a passport or not. I heard there was a lesser type passport that covered travel by land and boat that is less costly and takes less time to acquire, but not sure where I'd get it at? Additionally, when selecting a room (we want a balcony), can we have input on the room selection? I am traveling with a person with some mobility issues (not major) but it would be better to have a room more centrally located to reduce the amount of walking she'd have to do. Not sure of the ship layout to know whether one area of the boat is better than another and whether we can request where they put us. I'm sure I'll have a ton more questions, but for now I'm going to read the forums and see what more I can learn. So glad I found the site!
First and foremost, this is one of the main reasons why it's always a good idea to book with a travel agent, especially one that is a cruise specialist and especially if you're a first-time cruiser. They can help you with all these questions and insure you get the best cabin based on your needs. Plus, they don't charge anything for their services and charge the same thing as the cruise line or these online sites. But they're there to help you to make sure you get the most enjoyment out of your cruise.
Okay, the first thing about passports; if you're doing a "closed loop cruise", you do not need a passport. This is defined as a cruise that leaves from and returns to the same U.S. port and visits Mexico, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Caribbean, Canada, etc. If you don't have a passport, then you need an original birth certificate (not a copy) along with a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license.
However, with that said, I always recommend getting a passport just in case you get stuck in a foreign port and have to fly home. The Passport Card, that you're talking about will not help you in that situation and for cruisers, it really is a waste of money.
As for the cabin, you absolutely have an input as to where it is and the type of cabin you get. If you have a mobility issue, you can also get a handicapped accessible cabin.
Again, your agent will be able to provide all this information, answer all of your questions, make sure you get a good cabin, and provide information about the ports you'll be visiting.
We have a section in Cruise Mates where you can pose questions to travel agents. Give it a try; http://www.cruisemates.com/forum/a/
And let us know if you have any further questions.