• A lesson from “Triumph” cruise passengers – Always travel with a valid passport

    Cruises should be all about sunshine, delicious food and relaxation, but for more than 3,000 passengers on the Carnival Cruise ship “Triumph,” their experience has been anything but a vacation. A Sunday fire took out the ship’s propulsion system leaving the ship without power, sewage, heating or air-conditioning systems.

    In addition to the less than desirable conditions, many passengers faced a difficult situation when the ship was originally scheduled to detour to Progreso, Mexico for passengers to then fly back to their homes. One major problem – approximately 900 cruise passengers boarded Triumph without their passports.

    According to a recent “Consumer Traveler” article, almost all Caribbean cruises from the U.S. are “closed loop,” meaning they start and stop in the U.S., allowing passengers the flexibility to travel without a passport. When unexpected events occur, like Sunday’s system shutdown onboard, this exemption can be problematic.

    Carnival has changed their towing plans and is now taking the ship to Mobile, Alabama for “simpler re-entry,” but this situation serves as a reminder for all travelers to follow important passport guidelines when boarding a ship or a plane.

    U.S. visa and passport providers CIBT and A Briggs recommend that travelers should always travel across borders with a passport and have a minimum of six months of validity remaining prior to traveling internationally. If not, travelers should play it safe and renew before departure.  Passports should also be kept secure in a hotel safe and not be carried around during a vacation or business trip.

    For more helpful U.S. passport tips, read my recent blog post, “US Citizen Passport 101: What you need to know.”

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