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Passport Card - Cheaper Cruise Travel

New US passport gives cruisers a cheaper option

Planning to cruise your way through the Caribbean? Lusting for some "me" time on the Mexican Riviera? What about a ski trip north to Whistler? The new US passport card may be your "cheaper" ticket to travel in 2009 when passport laws tighten up at land border crossings.

Less than half of all Americans hold a passport but in 2009 you'll need one if you want to leave the US by land. Currently a passport is only required for air Passport to FunPassport to Funtravel. The new US Passport Card - the size of a credit card and on sale now - is half the cost of a regular passport and gives you access to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. Article continues below video.

If you already hold a passport book, you can apply for a passport card for $20 (children 15 and younger, $10). If you're a first-time applicant, the new card will run you $45 (children 15 and younger, $35). The Passport Card is just as valid as a passport book (good for 10 years for adults, 5 years for children).

The catch? It's only good in North America, the Caribbean, Mexico and Bermuda, and it can't be used for air travel (good for land and sea only).

Sounds like a sweet deal if you're not jetting off to Europe and don't want to spend the money on a passport book.

For more information, visit the US Department of State site.

Will you get a passport card?

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I've been keeping tabs on this issue as well. A lot of people have expressed concern about the vicinity-read radio frequency identification (RFID) chip contained on the passport card violating their privacy. (The Department of State addresses this issue on its website here: http://travel.state.gov/passport/ppt_card/ppt_card_3926.html).<br/><br/>The card looks like an interesting alternative. Unfortunately, for us non-U.S. folks a passport will have to do!

The card isn't "for sale" right now -- you can apply for it, but it won't be ready until spring.Not sure why you'd get it to go to Canada, though. I'm waiting for enhanced drivers' licenses instead.

What happens if you have to fly home in an emergency? With all the accidents and illnesses on cruise ships, wouldn't you want to keep your options open if something bad happens?

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