We went yesterday and applied for our passports.Yiipee!!..What an experience..Here are some of the things I did not have or know but needed..You have to have your Birth cert with the raised seal. You have to know your Mother and Fathers Birth dates and place of births. In some cases you can put, unknown. We went to the Post office and had it all done right there. Pics and all. it was $107.00 each. You will have to have 2 checks though. One will go to the state for background ck and the other goes to postmaster for the passport...Hope this helps.
If I could add something to what you have said..... If you have an old passport, no matter how old it is, take it with you. Most of the info you described can be pulled up on the old one. If your company does business internationally, even if you don't travel overseas for the company, the company might pay for your passport. If you have an old passport, and it has been less than 10 years sinse it expired, Carnival will accept it.
I think it's important to understand that ultimately is not the cruise line that "accepts" or "rejects" a passport (or other form of identification). That's the job of the immigration authorities of the United States and all the other countries that the ship calls at.
Yes, the cruise line may be the first to see the passport, but what they say should simply be a reflection of what the relevant governments require, not their own point of view. So it's misleading to imply that one cruise line may be more "liberal" than another.
Moreover, when it comes to passport requirements, it's very clear that what was true yesterday may well not be true tomorrow. Beginning January 1, you're going to need a valid (that is, NOT expired) passport, period, so everyone needs to get used to that idea and deal with it.
I sent in my passport for renewal on May 26 and received the new one on June 30 (I think). Point is, right now, it's a relatively quick process. I strongly advise those of you who need to renew yours or those of you applying for the first time, do it now! As passports are going to be required for foreign travel in another 6 months, everyone is going to be applying later on this year, and I can almost guarantee you that the wait time is going to get long!