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Understanding The Difference Between Passports Cards And Passport Books For Cruises

passport used for cruising

Are you planning treat yourself this new year to a fantastic cruise vacation with a prominent cruise ship line such as Carnival, Princess Cruises, or the Royal Caribbean? Well if that is on your list of things to do this year, then there are certain things that you need to need to learn about, especially if it will be your first cruise vacation.

One of the biggest questions that comes up when people are considering a cruise vacation is, "Do I need a passport?" The simple answer is that there are a variety of documents that, combined, can allow you to take a cruise vacation without a passport. However, a passport is something that all Americans should have if they are wanting to cruise. 

Most countries reopening their borders are allowing fully vaccinated people with the right travel documents to enter their borders. The United States Department of States in particular issues international travelers with two official government documents, that is, the passport card and the passport book. Also, the U.S government recommends travelers that intend to travel via cruising to carry their passports with them. So, should you carry the passport card, the passport book, or both when going on a cruise vacation? Keep reading to find out.


What Is A Passport Card?

A passport car is an official form of travel document issued by the government that is used to grant one access to foreign borders either by sea or by land. This document is available to both non-U. S citizens and U.S citizens as well. However, kindly note that a passport card is not accepted as an official identification document for international travel by air.

Once you are issued with a passport card, it will contain the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Date of birth
  • Nationality
  • Your photo
  • Place of birth
  • Issue date
  • Expiration date
  • Passport card number
  • Radio frequency identification (built in and can be used at Mexican and Canadian land borders)


What Is A Passport Book?

Just as the name suggests, a passport book is an official travel document in the form of a small booklet. The passport book is issued to both United States citizens and non-citizen nationals to grant them access to travel by sea, air, and land. If a traveler is 16 years or above when issued a passport book, the travel document will be valid for the next ten years. On the other hand, if a traveler is below 16 years when issued with the travel document, the passport book will be valid for 5 years.

Below are some of the details indicated in a passport book. They include:

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  • Your full name
  • Date of birth
  • Sex
  • Place of birth
  • Your photo
  • Nationality
  • Your photo
  • Unique passport number
  • Date of passport issue
  • Expiration date of the passport
  • Blank spaces where visas and immigration stamps will be filled during your travels

Since the year 2007, people have been issued with electronic passports that contain the following:

  • An electronic chip for storing the information on the first page of the passport book
  • A biometric identifier for the photo you provide in the passport book
  • A digital signature
  • Chip identification number


Difference Between The Passport Card And Passport Book For Cruising

As you have seen above, both the passport book and passport card have several things in common such as:

  • Both are issued to U.S citizens and non U.S citizen nationals
  • They contain similar personal information such as name, nationality, photo, place of birth, date of birth, and other details.
  • Both are valid travel documents for traveling by sea and land.

However, even though both the passport book and passport card have their similarities, they also differ in several things namely:



Another difference between passport cards and passport books is how much they cost. Passport books are costlier than passport cards. When applying for a passport book, it is mandatory to pay an acceptance fee of $35. Additionally, first time applicants of passport books must pay the following costs:

  • Adults 16 years and above- $145
  • Children 15 years and below- $115

The acceptance fee is included in the above costs.

On the other hand, passport cards have the following costs:

  • An acceptance fee of $35 for first time applicants (which is inclusive in the prices below)
  • Adults 16 years and above- $65
  • Children 15 years and below- $50

Both passport books and passport cards have renewal fees. The renewal fee for an adult passport book is $110 while the renewal fee for an adult passport card is $30.



The passport book and the passport card differ in size. The size of a passport card can be likened to that of a driver's license or a credit card.

On the other hand, a passport book is a 3.5'' by 5'' pocket sized official booklet filled with blank pages that are stamped with visas and immigration stamps whenever you travel. The standard size of a passport book is 28 pages. However, if you plan to have a lot of international travels, you can request for a 52-page passport book.


Travel limitation

The passport book does not have any travel limitations, which means that you can literary visit any country in the world by land, sea, or air using it.

However, the passport card contains several limitations in its travel destinations. For instance, you can only use the passport card as a valid travel document at the sea borders and land borders of specific countries such as Mexico, Caribbean, Bermuda, and Canada.

This means that if you intend to go on a Mediterranean cruise, you must carry a passport book since the passport card will not be valid. Also not that unlike the passport book, the passport card is not valid at Sea borders in Europe.

We highly recommend that you carry your passport book before you embark on your cruising vacation. Better yet, you can always carry both your passport book and passport card on your cruise trip. Just make certain that you take proper care of your travel documents.