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Cruise ship identification: What ID do I need to sail?

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Traveling outside of the U.S. is a bit more complicated than it used to be. Just a few years ago, you could pop over the border to Canada or drop below the border for an authentic Mexican dinner and all you needed was your driver's license. Then 9-11 happened and a great deal changed for all of us. Among the things that changed was a more vigorous interest in securing our borders.

Today, you'll need a passport to cross into Canada, or more importantly, to cross back into the U.S. Of course, you'll need a passport to fly anywhere out of the country, but there is still one international vacation for U.S. citizens that can be made without the need for a passport--a cruise originating from a U.S. port.

Your original birth certificate, or an official copy (not a Xerox), accompanied with some official government-issued identification like your driver's license is all you'll need if you're sailing from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Port Canaveral, Jacksonville, Charleston, Baltimore, New York, Galveston, New Orleans, Seattle, or Los Angeles--and you're returning to that U.S. port.

What's this mean? It means you can save about $100 per person in your traveling party by not needing to secure a passport for everyone in the family.

But don't get too complacent. It's not going to last for long. Each year, we await word that the rules are changing and passports will be required. We've expected it for the last three years and it hasn't happened yet. It will, but who knows when.

In the meantime, let's head to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Mexico, Alaska, Bermuda, New England or Hawaii. The time is perfect for your family vacation without passports.

Do get official copies of everyone's birth certificates from the health department of the state or city where each family member was born. If you don't have them already, having an official copy made will cost a few dollars. Then make sure everyone has a photo ID--driver's license, school-issued photo ID, something official. That's all you'll need.

You'll want to save even more on that cruise--and that's where 7 Seas Cruises comes in. We've been discounting cruises for families just like yours since 1999 and we'll do the same for you. We're seasoned sailors and can help you select the ideal cruise line, ship and itinerary for your group--and then we'll give you a generous discount! Call us toll-free at 1-866-424-1090 or drop us an email at cruise7seas@msn.com. Like us on Facebook (7 Seas Cruises), visit our website, www.7seascruises.com, and sign up for our newsletter!

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