When we began the real push towards cruising some 3+ years ago, the expiration dates on our passports seemed far distant. Imagine my horror when I flipped open Bruce's passport and found that it expires in May, 2014. That's THIS MAY!!!! Wow! Isn't that about when we would like to be enjoying the Bahamas??? Why yes, it IS!
renew online and by mail. Quick and easy! No finding of offices or waiting in lines. Just click on the link, follow the clear and precise instructions, complete online form DS 82 and print. Sign and date the form, send it in with a current passport photo and your expiring passport... and voila! Done!
So, before you head out! Make sure that your passport is good. Many countries require a minimum number of months remaining on your passport to enter.
UPDATE: When we did this, the online pre fill form expired 12/31/13. We had to use the "Complete by hand" form which expires 12/31/2016. I sent in a notification to them so maybe they'll get it fixed soon. Be sure you use the current form!