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Hipshot May 28th, 2008 08:44 PM

Where did I go wrong?
I don't expect you to be experts on homeland security but maybe someone has a clue.

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 not 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...

jackieb May 30th, 2008 11:48 AM

The cruise lines are suggesting that you get a passport. That probably would have solved your problem. But I do feel sorry for you!

Hipshot May 30th, 2008 12:07 PM


Originally Posted by jhearty1
The cruise lines are suggesting that you get a passport. That probably would have solved your problem. But I do feel sorry for you!

Yeah I realize that ... Hindsite is of course 20 20. :roll:

I'm obviously straightening that out but it wouldn't help me a bit at the pier that day.

Ya know... if they were not going to accept the alternate document they suggested & requested to solve this when I produced it, I wish they would not of asked for it in the first place. Or even gave me the idea. That's just wrong.

I mean I feel that if the document was Legal and approved by the entity issuing it, why would it not be acceptable at the pier when they request it?

Because of a formatting issue? Please! That certainly is not MY fault! Take it up with the state! GEES!

Some common sense should of been applied here. That's all.

But thank you anyways..

jackieb May 30th, 2008 04:26 PM

Even though I had a passport I was remarried and was afraid with my luck that my marriage license & passport wouldn't be enough so I just applied for a new one. With my luck they wouldn't have accepted it. So I'm am just overly cautious. Not critisizing you, just telling you to always expect the worst and then you will be happy when the best happens.

misguidedangel May 30th, 2008 08:53 PM

Travelling anywhere now demands a passport, even if you are crossing the border into Canada. A passport is the only way to travel now. You made a rooking mistake by not finding out if your ID was valid or what is preferred.

The information you were sent should have stated what you needed, and your travel agent should have asked you about what ID you have and if it would be acceptable..

It is a good idea to get a passport now!!!! Next time it will be quick and easy...

LisaK June 2nd, 2008 02:34 PM

Hipshot i am just curious as to the fact that if you felt that you had all the proper requirements eventually in your possession WHY oh why didn't you persue the issue with a supervisior, that is your RIGHT no matter what anyone at the check-in desk might have told you.

Hipshot June 2nd, 2008 03:07 PM


Originally Posted by LisaK
Hipshot i am just curious as to the fact that if you felt that you had all the proper requirements eventually in your possession WHY oh why didn't you persue the issue with a supervisior, that is your RIGHT no matter what anyone at the check-in desk might have told you.

Well of course I DID ask for a supervisor and was told no one else was available. We worked all day then packed and got done late. We got 90 min sleep before we got up at midnight and made the 10 hour drive to the pier. We were fried. My goal.. at that point was to just get on the boat, find a chair, a drink and relax! I wasn't prepared for this nightmare, and I just wasn't that coherant at that point in time. And frankly after 3 hrs. of this insanity... I was no longer thinking as clearly as I should have. When she said one else was available, I realized at that point any more attempts were just futile. Especially when I said to her, there is just no way we're going on this cruise today is there? And I got that subtle little smile as she walked away.
At that point, I gave up and went into salvage mode. I quit trying to get on. Hindsite is 20 20. In retrospect, maybe I should have gotten loud and demanded a second opinion. But she said it was the wrong document and there is a different one. Who was I to say differently. I'm not the expert. Only when I got home and rexamined the documents did I realize it WAS the origional certified copy and there WAS no other document! I mean it said it there right on it! "This is a certified copy of the origional birth certificate on file with the state of Pennsylvania" But I was just too exhausted and I didn't catch it. And apparently she didn't either. And unfortunately, she really didn't look too excited about resovling the issue at that point anyways.
Live and learn..

TravelBugs June 2nd, 2008 04:43 PM

What a shame that you & your wife missed your anniversary cruise. That's a huge disappointment.

If your travel agent was worth anything, I think they should have made sure that you knew you needed an appropriate copy of your birth certificates with the raised seal.

If you truly did have the correct document faxed to the pier and they still didn't accept it, one would hope the cruise line would give you 100% towards another cruise. The problem is proving it after the fact. That is why another poster indicated you should have insisted on speaking to a supervisor.

Well, you surely learned a lesson in the school of hard knocks.

Good luck. I hope you are successful in getting 100% credit toward another cruise.

It would be in your best interest to apply for a passport now, for future use.

Kamloops Cruiser June 2nd, 2008 08:28 PM

As canadians we now have to have a passport travel to the US even by land. Internally most airlines prefer that you use a passport (even an expired one) this because drivers license , gov't photp ID etc can be be easily forged or bought .

:D :roll:

willy q July 21st, 2008 11:43 PM

Hipshot that is why since 9-11 I ALWAYS travel with a PASSPORT being a Mexican and Armenian I look like one of them.

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