At the moment, passports are not required for cruises departing and returning to US ports (assuming you are a US citizen). They are necessary for a flight back from foreign ports - think worst case scenario and you need to be medically repatriated.
If you're a citizen of the US, you'll be fine this year with a Certified BC and a DL, but IF you have to fly back into the US you'll have to go through extra screening. If you have more than 3 months or so before you cruise, it would be best to apply for a passport.
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This cruise was a "quick decision" and I was unaware of the air travel law (didn't pay attention apparently because I hadn't planned on a cruise) until after the fact. We have 6 weeks before we leave and I may just encourage the others to apply this week and hope with expiditing the applications they'll be back before we leave. I was told by the Clerk of Court's office that the expidited ones are taking min. 4 weeks. We only had 2 weeks that we could choose from, considering everyone's schedules. If I had known ahead of time, we may not have planned this cruise because it's certainly increasing the cost of the trip!
kidatheart, we applied for ours a couple of months ago, and it took exactly SIX weeks for us to receive them. There is one couple that applied the week before we did, and have not received theirs yet.....good luck.
I wouldn't count on getting your passport before your cruise. Just get another copy of your BC and you'll be fine THIS year! Passports are now taking 10-12 weeks to process. The expedited passports are taking at least 4 weeks. See this site: