The ultimate guide to planning a cruise, expert cruise guidance, what cruisers need to know about planning a cruise, taking a cruise guide, Michelle Couch-Friedman cruise fiasco expert

Planning a cruise in 2024? Here’s your guide to avoiding common mistakes

Over the years, I’ve mediated hundreds of requests for help from distressed cruise line passengers. Many of these cruise fiascos were the result of passenger mistakes and could have been avoided by following some simple guidelines. With wave season just beginning, now is the perfect time to review Consumer Rescue’s ultimate guide to planning a cruise.

Here’s all the information you need to know about planning and taking a cruise.

Carnival Cruise Line ship, cruise ship on the ocean.

We had our Real ID! Why couldn’t we board our Carnival Cruise?

Although a Real ID and an Enhanced ID look nearly identical, there are critical differences between the two identifications. Diane Dipalma recently received a rapid and painful education on the topic while attempting to board Carnival Cruise Line’s Legend. 

She and her new husband believed they could use their Real ID driver’s licenses to take the cruise. But the Carnival Cruise Line staff quickly clarified that they couldn’t, and the shocked newlyweds missed their honeymoon. 

Here’s their story and what you need to know about the differences between a Real ID and an Enhanced ID.

This passenger brought an expired passport to board her cruise, Carnival Cruise Line's Celebration, arriving in the Caribbean for the first time.

Carnival Cruises rejected me and my expired passport! Can I get a refund?

Angela Romero and her buddy Gail recently arrived in Miami ready to sail on Carnival Cruises’ newest ship, Celebration. But the two shocked friends were rejected for boarding the cruise when Angela discovered she had accidentally packed an expired passport.

Gail says Carnival Cruises made a mistake rejecting Angela for boarding Celebration. While she concedes that passengers can’t cruise with an expired passport, she maintains Angela had other acceptable documentation with her. 

Now the friends are asking Consumer Rescue to investigate. They hope our team can convince Carnival to admit its mistake and provide a future cruise credit to the pair.

But what did Angela hand over to Carnival Cruises besides that expired passport? This case hinges on that detail. 

You can cruise without a passport, but you shouldn't. This is what can happen if you miss your cruise and don't have a passport with you.

This is what happens when you miss your cruise without a passport

Maybe you’ve taken an international cruise without a passport and it was smooth sailing all the way. But you might want to consider Earl Wentzel’s troubling tale before booking your next maritime adventure.

Earl’s case should serve as an eye-opener to anyone considering taking a cruise without a passport. When you cruise with no passport, you’re putting yourself in a precarious position that could cause you to miss your vacation completely — no refund included. Or worse. You could even find yourself stranded in a foreign country.