It's official. The Dept of Homeland Security has stopped dithering with dates and announced that travelers will be required to present a passport or other approved secure document denoting citizenship and identity for all land and SEA travel into the United States effective June 1, 2009. The final rule for the land and sea portion of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), announced March 27, applies to previously exempt travelers, including citizens of the U.S., Canada, and Bermuda.
Dept of Homeland Security offers the details on their website, but the bottom line is that if you have a cruise planned for next year, get in line now to apply for a passport. Processing times at present are within four weeks from the time of application; however, that could all change.
Remember last year? As applications flooded in, passport processing centers were "overwhelmed" by the "unprecedented" demand. Previously announced passport requirements resulted in millions of applications and the State Department was unprepared to process them in a timely fashion. From personal experience, the anxiety isn't worth waiting to apply. You could find yourself in Passport Purgatory if you do.