Alaska is vast and beautiful, rugged and wild. In recent years, cruises to Alaska have become increasingly popular. On an Alaskan cruise, you get to experience the decadent luxury of life aboard a cruise ship while still getting to experience the 49th state’s breathtaking wilderness vistas. Now, Alaska is part of the United States, so you should be able to get there and back without a passport, right?
Not necessarily. Starting June 1st, if your Alaskan cruise makes any stops in a Canadian port, all passengers must show US passports to re-enter the US. Many Alaskan cruises leave from the continental United States, sailing out of ports in the Pacific Northwest. These cruises often stop in Canada along the way, so US passports are required for boarding. The Seattle Times posted an article recently describing the great Alaskan cruises available in Seattle. In the article, Holland America Line spokesman Erik Elvejord was asked what would happen if someone tried to board the cruise ship without passport after June 1. He replied, “If they don’t have a passport (or other approved ID), we’ll have to deny boarding.”
If your cruise leaves from US soil and doesn’t make any stops in Canada, US passports are not required. However, it’s an excellent idea to double-check before you leave! Also, if you are flying to Alaska, check and see if you’ll have to catch a connecting flight in Canada. If so, you need a passport. US citizens are required to have US passports to enter and return from Canada, even if they never step foot outside of the airport! However, if you have a direct flight from the US to Canada, a passport is not required.
If you need to get your US passport quickly, the most fool-proof way to do so is to go through a private passport expediting company like RushMyPassport.com. Your application will be handled by trained passport specialists and delivered to the US Passport Agency by hand, so you can have it ready in as little as 24 hours!