We did ours in 2002 and it took exactly 4 weeks. With passports being required next year, they are busy and it could take longer. I wouldn't send away for it now if you leave 9/26 because you have to send in your original birth certificate. If it takes too long, then you won't have either...I'd wait and do it right after your cruise and have it for the next cruise :<)....Have a great cruise.
Teresa and Larry
#36-Carnival Splendor 9/16/12
7 night Mexican Riviera
#37-Allure of the Seas 11/11/12
7 night Eastern Caribbean
Just got one. We filed for it on June 28th. It arrived at our home the end of July. They are saying 4 weeks and beyond right now and this Fall it will even be longer when people realize they will need them beginning Jan. 1 for certain trips. We are not traveling till March but wanted to get a jump on everyone else. Took exactly a month!!
We purchased ours the Friday after Thanksgiving in 2004 and got it like the 1st week in December (Our cruise left beginning of Feb). The doctor before us in line expidited his and it cost alot and I bet his came the same time as ours. It was very quick for some reason!
Of course, CA Cruiser assumes that SusieG is taking a cruise that doesn't ALREADY require a passport. The fact is that many itineraries already require passports, and always have. But the working assumption in replies here is that everybody is going either to the Caribbean, Mexico or Alaska.
Beyond that, I think the important point here is the one made by Sunlover. As the days roll on, it's likely that the wait times will increase as people begin to wake up and realize that they MUST have passports. Therefore, I wouldn't rely too heavily on anecdotal replies about how it "used to be." (and even a couple months ago now qualifies as "used to be.")
Mine only took a few weeks but my husband's took forever. They rejected his birth certificate (the one he used to get his driver's license). Said it wasn't a state certified birth certificate. Had to request a new birth certificate (we live out of state) whch took about 6 weeks to get, then send it to the passport office in New Hampshire. That took another 3 or 4 weeks.
We live in Ontario, Canada and I guess we are very lucky. We dropped off our papers at the passport office and had our passports delivered to our house the very next WEEK!
I know we didn't really need them for our September cruise this year, but better to have them early.