One of the big questions that we have had is whether or not to get the boys (aged 2 & 4) passports. Technically, as it is a closed-loop (I think that's what it's called---going to and from same embarkation port) cruise, we don't need them. My husband and I both have them, mine renewed w/ my married name after our marriage a few years ago, and his bought for "just in case".
We've gone back and forth. The price is not a little. For 2 minors to get passport books it will cost $210. That's not a little amount. In the grand scheme of things, that's a pretty big chunk. And they are only good for 5 years. How many times will they use it? Maybe twice? On top of that, since they are minors, we both have to go and be present at the passport office (er...post office) to sign everything. So...it's time consuming. And we have to get their pictures. Thankfully, we have AAA, so pictures should be free.
Looking at research online (mainly forums dedicated to cruise traveling, like CruiseCritic) shows a pretty even opinion pool--some say "YES! PASSPORT!" others say "Not needed, don't bother spending the money."
Well that's no help.
So what has helped us make this decision?
As someone that is pretty obsessive about researching everything before I do it, buy it, spend it, etc., I have read the horror stories that have happened because someone didn't have a passport, or how they were saved because they did. Yet another time that Hurricane Irene has helped us make a decision. So many people were stranded when the hurricane struck, just the thought of having to deal with all of that...and without a passport? (okay, so American citizens had to have a passport for that cruise anyway, because of it departing San Juan, not the point!!) What if something happened where we had to depart the cruise ship at Nassau? Unlikely, but if we had to fly home from there and the boys didn't have passports? We'd be stranded until passports could be procured.
What if someone got sick? Broke a leg? If we were in Nassau (the only port that we would be able to fly out of), again...stranded if we had to fly out.
Missed the ship? Unlikely since we don't plan to even get off the ship in Nassau at this point, but it could happen!
So what is that $210 buying? Peace of mind. Less stress. Yes, the money is a lot when you are already shelling out thousands for vacation. But peace of mind in case of an emergency and just one less thing to worry about? Definitely worth the money.
So, we are definitely getting our boys passports.