This is the first time my wife and I have ever taken a cruise, and the process and requirements for this trip are more then a little confusing.

We are departing from Tampa FL, traveling to Mexico and Grand Cayman, then returning to Tampa FL.

It's unclear if we need a passport card, passport book, or nothing. Should be get local currency before we leave? Where would we get that currency? How commonly are credit cards accepted? Can we just stick with those?

In short, what can we expect, process and "money" wise on this trip. I wouldn't think it would be too complicated, but the cruise site (and to some degree the passport site) are very confusing.

PS. We are both US Citizens


In order to board your ship, you will need either a valid passport, or an original/certified birth certificate AND a government-issued photo identification (such as a valid driver’s license).

You shouldn't need a passport if this is a closed-loop cruise (departing and returning to the same US port) and your two ports of call are in Mexico and the Cayman Islands. Some Caribbean nations do require that cruise passengers have a passport to enter. Should you arrive at one which does, you would simply remain onboard.

Note that most cruise lines strongly recommend that you travel with a valid passport. It would be needed if you missed a departure (from home or ports of call) or, worst case, in an emergency to fly home prior to the ship's return to port. Having one could make your upcoming cruise, and future travels, a bit easier.

Credit cards and US currency are widely accepted at both of your destinations. You should notify the card issuer of your travel plans. Just call the toll free number and tell the rep where you're going and when, to avoid a freeze being placed for unusual activity. If your card charges for foreign transactions, you might consider getting one that doesn't.

  • @coteyr You should also call the cruise line customer service line. Part of their job is to make your cruise go smoothly and should give you specific answers to your questions. – DoxyLover Aug 12 '16 at 17:59
  • @DoxyLover, that is supposed to be true, but all we got was a redirect to the US Passport site, which as I said, is technically clear but not really clear, this answer is much clearer. As to the money question they refused to say anything about stuff that wasn't on their ship or their excursions. – coteyr Aug 12 '16 at 19:06
  • To add to the answer, you can use either a passport book or passport card for that. You can only use the birth certificate if you're US-born; if you're naturalized US citizens, you obviously cannot use birth certificate. – George Y. Aug 13 '16 at 5:35

To add extra detail to Dorothy's answer:

We were required to provide a valid passport in order to board. We had priority boarding, so I don't know if this was a requirement of that (as in if we didn't have a passport we would have had to go to the normal lines), but not having a passport that was valid for at least six months after the return date was not an option.

In both ports we were told to provide only the ship board ID and a valid government issue ID (Drivers licence). We were advised to leave the passport in a safe on the boat.

When returning to the boat, the ports (Mexico and Cayman islands) didn't even check the IDs. The cruise people checked the ship board ID as you got on and off the ship. They didn't check the IDs either (but photos were embedded in the ship board IDs).

As to the question of money. Cash was accepted everywhere. Credit cards were not. Some places took cards, some didn't. But cash was accepted everywhere. As an aside, be really didn't spend any money. By purchasing ship "excursions" every thing was paid for or charged to our ship board account. I would still advise taking some cash, but not much.

  • You say cash was accepted everywhere. Do you mean US dollars? Or Mexican pesos/Cayman Islands dollars? If you mean US dollars, did you notice the exchange rate? – TonyK Oct 31 '16 at 20:00
  • US dollars and there was no exchange rate. Everywhere just took US dollars the same as they would in the U.S. Prices were higher, but that had more to do with tourist traps then exchange rates. – coteyr Oct 31 '16 at 20:45
  • There must have been a de facto exchange rate. If you order a beer in a bar in Mexico, you can certainly pay for it in pesos. If they let you pay for it in US dollars too, then you just divide the dollars by the pesos to get the exchange rate applicable in that bar. – TonyK Nov 8 '16 at 14:47
  • Or they just charged $7 cause that's what people were willing to pay and never posted signs in Pesos. I'm sure they exchanged the money for Pesos, probably, but these port towns we stopped in were 100% tourist traps. If you left the port towns I'm sure you got a different "view" but the Mexicans in Mexico spoke better English then the Mexicans back home, and I don't mean that as a joke. I mean that as a direct comparison. These port towns were setup in such a way, that you didn't feel like you had ever left the US. Again, had we not taken "ship excursions" and explored more freely, we may – coteyr Nov 9 '16 at 16:13
  • have had a different experience. But with the choices we made, it felt more like the "It's a small world" ride then actually vising another country. The exception was in Mexico we went to a "Private Island" and once away from the port you got to see a little Mexican culture. But even that was setup strictly as a destination for tourists. Purchases were tied to our ship board account and in US $. Drinks and food were provided at no cost. – coteyr Nov 9 '16 at 16:19

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