Most cruises travel to foreign countries which means that all passengers are required to have a passport or a passport card. American citizens can travel with a passport card via land or sea to enter Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. But all other destinations will require a passport book. And many travelers are worried that carrying their actual passport when in foreign ports is not wise. But the fact is that your actual passport should be with you when you are traveling in any foreign country.
A Legal Form of Identification
When you are driving throughout the United States, you carry your actual driver’s license because it is a legal form of identification. There are many features of a driver’s license that make it very hard to reproduce or forge such as watermarks and holograms. And those same built in safety features are used on a passport. But a photocopy of your passport will not contain those features to prove that it is a legitimate and legal identification document, because it is not. So in a sense, a photocopy is really going to do you no good if you need official identification.
A Real Life Scenario
If you disembark at a port to go shopping with your passport photocopy tucked safely in your pocket, it might be useful if you happen to be stopped by the local authorities while shopping. There are a number of reasons that this could happen and most of them are simply random questions in tourist towns. But if you happen to lose track of time and your ship departs without you, that photocopy is going to be of little or no value. When this happens, tourists are often forced to fly to the next port of call to rejoin their ship. But you are not going to get on any flight in a foreign country with a photocopy of a passport. Instead you will be headed to the nearest consulate or embassy to get legitimate travel documents.
Fear of Being Denied Reentry
The single biggest reason that travelers refrain from carrying their passport when in foreign ports is the fear of losing the passport and not getting through customs when they return to the United States. But of these two bad situations, it seems that being stuck in a foreign country is far worse than being detained for an hour or so at the U.S. border while you explain the loss of your passport and have your identification verified by other means.
Clearly, the best advice is to be careful and not lose your passport, but accidents do happen. So the best choice is to always carry your passport when in a foreign country, possibly even in a carrier that goes around your neck and can tuck inside your shirt. This eliminates the chance of dropping it, laying it down or being pick pocketed. And know that if, by some chance, you do lose your passport then being identified in the United States will be far less stressful than being stranded in a foreign country with no legal identification.