DH and I recently booked a cruise through the Panama Canal (7-22-05 on the Norwegian Sea), and when we got our cruise confirmation there was a note that anyone going on a cruise through the Panama Canal would require a passport. I've been on several cruises, but never bothered getting a passport, because it was always sufficient to have your birth certificate and photo ID. DH had a passport, but it has expired.
I'm wondering what your experience has been. Did you need a passport to go on a cruise through the Panama Canal?
Also, I'm wondering if anyone has visited Columbia. We have a call scheduled at Cartagena, Columbia, and I'm wondering if it will be safe. I know Columbia has been on the US tourists watch list.
The US State Dept consulate page says that Passports are required. In this post 9/11 world, with requirements changing as rapidly as they do... I would definitely have passport in hand. It's the most definitive proof you can have of American citizenship you can have..... and heaven forbid you get hung up somewhere and miss your ship you'd be better off going to an embassy with your passport than your birth certificate. Once you have it, it's good for 10 years and if you have your original birth certificate it's not a big deal to get.
Yes you need a passport and we were even advised to make sure we had it with us when we left the ship. I can't remember which country but another one actually asked to see it also. Have a great time. PS and it was so easy at the airports also.