Originally Posted by You
1st, understand we are not world travelers. In fact we barely ever get out of town. But I wanted to fufill a 20+ year promise to my wife and finally give her that anniversary cruise she wanted. This was our 27th.
We understood that a Birth Certificate was legal proof enough for citizenship in the US for a weekend Bahamas cruise. And it is. And I thought I had the proper documentation. At least it was 29 years ago when we went to the Bahamas. But with homeland security the way it is, apparently it is not good enough anymore.
What I thought was our birth certificates from the State of Pa. that were handed to us by our parents many many years ago were actually only legal notifications that they were on file in the state. Ok, my mistake. Who knew. Fortunately, there were options in place to resolve these issues. We were told we could either have the state of PA. fax our certified certificates to the pier or produce our childs certificate because our names were on it. Here is where the things got sticky.
Although some states do, I found that the state of PA. would by no means fax our birth certificates anywhere! When I explained our situation and then questioned why, I was told thats the way it is. Some reason! I did find out however during our argument with the state, that in the 80's they started to send out those certifed birth cetificates. My kids were born after the 80's and I thought ok We're saved.
I was told at the pier they would except my daughters state certified birth certificate with the raised seal because our names were on it. I called my daughter and had that document faxed to the pier. Even though it said the 'Commonwealth of Pennsylvania' across the document, It had the required certified raised seal, our names were of course on it, and it said 'This is a certifed copy of the origional birth certificate' right on it, it was DENIED at the pier by the employee because the letters 'PA' were not next to our names!
I asked her to clarify this, even though I presented the optional legal document required for us to board that boat, simply because of the way the document was formatted, which I had no control over, I was being denied our anniversary cruise.
I was out of options, My wife a blubbering mass crying for over 3 hrs sitting in a chair. And even though they don't accept hospital certificates I had my daughter fax it anyway because it DID state our names with the letters 'PA' next to our names. But... since it was not considered "legal'... it was ALSO denied.
Ok, I understand the homeland security thing. But I felt this was obviously being carried too far! There was absolutely no common sense or logic being applied here. And when I asked the woman at the pier for a superior to talk to, I was DENIED that as well!!!!
At this point I realized there was NOTHING I was going to able to do to resolve this. So I asked for my luggage to be returned and of course my money refunded. I was given a number to call. When I asked for my refund I was denied that as well! The BEST they were going to be able to do is give me a 75% credit on another cruise? WHAT? They wouldn't let me on the FIRST one!!! We didn't miss the boat, THEY WOULDN'T LET US ON!!! And to top it off, when our luggage was returned eventually, it was destroyed. Sodas and water we were told to pack on the recommendation of our husbands travel agent, well two of the sodas were literally torn open at the seams and the clothing & suitcase ruined. Something that just couldn''t happen by accident.
I never felt more like a second class citizen in my life! And never felt more abused. What STUPIDITY we just endured! Not only after a 10 hour drive, was our anniverary ruined, but I was stuck in Florida without a hotel room, and out my cruise money besides. After checking into a dive for a hotel room, we tried to salvage was was left of our weekend.
My point to all of this is yes, we made a rookie mistake. And there were options in place to resolve it. But when we provided that legal document that was supposed to solve all this, it was denied anyways! A poor judgement call from an employee at the pier in my opinion. If we would of not provided the legal documentation necessary to board that boat, I would of went home calling this a lesson learned. But we DID provide what was legally necessary and was denied anyways in the name of homeland security? That's all we kept hearing.
If they have an issue with the state of PA, well then they should take it up with them! 2 letters missing in the wrong place? Give me a break!
I have written letters to my travel agent, the CEO of the cruise line, Filed a formal complaint with the line, And written a couple of lawyers familiar with the cruise lines, and posted on a few sites. It's been 11 days. As of today , no one has yet responded satisfactorly.
I spent alot of time and money preparing for this trip, And alot of fuel getting there. And I don't think a 75% coupon for another cruise that I apparently cannot get on anyways is satisfactory compensation for what ridiculous bureaucracy we endured. NO US citizen should be treated in this manner.
We of course are not blameless, but we feel we provided the viable legal option they requested. It may be homeland security rules they are citing, but it was the interpretation of those rules by a cruise line employee that ruined our vacation.
If we were wrong, and I'm missing something, if I'm going after the wrong entity, someone please let us know. I will drop this. But if we DO have a legal leg to stand on and you can help us, also please let us know. Thank you
In any case 'BE SURE TO HAVE THE PROPER DOCUMENTATION' seems to be a relative term. As a rookie , you can try but be prepared to be denied for ANY reason!
Another friend taking the same cruise was also met by this woman that day. And even though she had taken 4 previous cruises this year with Royal, THIS TIME she was being required to provide a marriage certificate to track her name change! Are you kidding me? She told us the ONLY reason she got on board was this rule was not a wrtten rule as of yet and could nor be enforced. Are they making this stuff up?
Oh and as far as PA is concerned. we were told that apparently if you KNOW a congressman, all it takes is a phone call because THOSE folks got their Certificates faxed in 10 minutes! Umm... It's not WHAT you know...but WHO! No kidding.
I'm not complaining. I feel the way we were treated was wrong. If this helps ANY new cruisers out there avoid the nightmare we endured with Royal, then this was worth posting.
And I won't fault the line for the poor judgement of one employee. Mistakes happen. Of course I will give the line every opportunity to resolve this satisfactorly and try to book again. And will post the results.
So far... not yet.
To be continued...
I'm very sorry that your
mistake ruined your plans for a honeymoon cruise.
But now that you have had a chance to blow some steam, try to look at this from the cruise line's perspective.
>> 1. They provided you with information in advance that stated clearly what documentation you needed to satisfy U. S. immigration laws. It was your responsibility to obtain that documentation in time for the cruise. It is not their fault that you did not know that your receipts were not legal birth certificates.
>> 2. The cruise line really is between a rock and a hard place on this one. If the cruise line had let you aboard, the cruise line would face a very stiff fine for each member of your party for bringing you back to the United States without proper documentation.
>> 3. Practically, the cruise line could not resell your cabin at that point in the embarkation process.
>> 4. Legally, the cruise line has no obligation whatsoever to provide any compensation to you. The Contract of Passage for your booking states this quite clearly.
Overall, I think that the offer of a credit of 75% of the cruise fare toward a future cruise is very generous indeed. I agree with the suggestion to book another cruise!
I also agree with the suggestion to get passports before the start of your next cruise, as there are two very compelling reasons for doing so.
>> 1. Passports will expedite entry into foreign countries and reentry into the United States because the immigration agents have computers that can scan the OCR typeface on a passport. If you have alternate documentation (birth certificate and driver's license), they have to type the information into their computers manually.
>> 2. If you need to leave the ship and fly back to the United States due to an emergency at home, you will need a passport to do because alternative doucmentation is no longer acceptable for passengers arriving in the United States by air. U. S. embassies and consulates can issue a temporary passport valid for one return, but the need to go to the embassy or consulate in person -- which may be on a different island, or even in a different country, in the Caribbean -- to obtain it could delay your return by two or three days.
So overall, it's much easier to obtain a passport before you go.