We went to sail on Royal Caribbeans Vision of the Seas on Sept. 14, 2007. I had called R.C. before we went on our cruise and told them that we were thinking of getting our passports and they told us that we could but not to worry about it just as long as we had our birth certificates that it would be fine. I thought I would even double check and got on their website where it states in absence of a passport a birth certificate either orginal or certified was acceptable. When we went to board I was denied boarding because I did not have a certified copy of my birth certificate. They would not help us at all. We had to keep trying to find someone just to answer our questions. They told us to go over to some chairs to sit until we could figure it out. They would not offer us a refund or let us sail at a later date. We had to pay to get our plane tickets changed since we were not to fly out for another week. Everytime we have tried to contact us they just say we should of known better. I wrote a letter to the president of the company who had a secretary answer my letter who offered no help at all. Come to find out they are not even members of the Better Business Bureau. The BBB says that their advertising tactics are in question. I wonder why? I would never sail Royal Caribbean again a and would like to tell my story to everyone who has thought about sailing with them not to do it. We saved up for more that 2 years to take this trip for our 15 year anniversary. It was devestating to lose all that money plus spend that alone time with my husband.
All I can say is I've never had a problem boarding an RCI vessel - or those of any other line. The cruise line has an obligation to comply with federal law. It is not a cruise line rule about the birth certificates. The cruise line can get in serious trouble if they allow someone to board with documentation that might later be found insufficient by Immigration authorities when you exit the ship. Obviously RCI didn't think your birth certificate was the original but instead just a copy.
I happen to like RCI a lot and will cruise with them countless more times in the future. As for the BBB - many like to hold the BBB up as a shining example of righteousness. The fact is they probably list most large corporations as having questionable advertising.
When we went to board I was denied boarding because I did not have a certified copy of my birth certificate.
I don't understand. Did you have your original birth certificate that has the raised seal of the state in which you were born? Is your name the same now as on your birth certificate, or do you use your husband's last name? Did they accept your husband's original birth certificate and not yours?
Is the travel agent who booked this important vacation for you able to help in any way?
Hi GertscS, sorry to hear of your misfortune. If you did, in fact, have your original birth certificates, they would have needed to have been certified. It states that requirement for all travel documents. Still am curious as to why, if you had planned this for 2 years, you didn't get your passports. They are required for all travel outside of the US, including cruises. I do feel sorrow for you because I know how disappointed I would have been, but I know I would have made sure I had all the required documents and then some for something that important. It is certainly a pitty, but it is not the cruise lines fault, proper documentation is required by federal law. Ironically, that only holds true for legal citizens. I do hope you won't give up on cruising because it is truly the vacation of a lifetime. Best wishes in the future.
I have to agree with what all that was said above. They (RCCL) have to comply with the laws and they are protecting all of us. I do feel very bad for you and would like to hear the rest of your story also. We are going on RCCL in July and here is what just happen to my sister last month. She went to apply for her passport, the post office would not accept her birth certificate because it did not have the raised seal/stamped. She had to go to the town and get a new one ($20.00) with the seal. On top of that all four in the family pictures taken for the passports were also denied. So they had to retake...and when my sister went back to remail her passport with the corrected birth certificate, she had to yet take a third picture because they felt it would not pass. They are cracking down and I think it is a good thing. Before you cruise/travel you really have to check an re-check all the important information needed. We all have our fingers crossed that all passports come back A-OK!!
RCL Nordic Empress 80's
RCL Monarch of the Seas 1990
RCL Mariner of the Seas 2006
DCL Wonder 2007
RCL Enchantment of the Seas 2008
Princess Diamond 2009
RCL Oasis of the Seas 2010
Wow GertscS! You really had a bad experience! I'm sorry to hear you weren't allowed to board the ship, but, if it would have been any other cruise line, you still wouldn't be able to board the ship either. I have to ask--was your copy notarized? I've been on over 40 cruises with Royal Caribbean and never had a signal problem boarding a ship. Of coarse, I have my documents in order; if I didn't, I wouldn't be able to board a ship either. It's not Royal Caribbean that are cheats, you kind of cheated yourself ... I hope you have a passport now, because you're probably going to have the same horrid experience again if you don't.
Everyone reading this, please learn from this unfortunate experience. What is a passport? It's proof of citizenship and your legal pass from the country of your citizenship to travel abroad. Have they had exceptions in the past to needing one for certain destinations and type of travel? Yes. I have a strong hunch that what was presented at the pier was the hospital issued souvenier with footprints on the back for a scrapbook. It looks like a birth cert and some even say birth cert. The fact that the hospital certifies you were born there is not an official doccument of your birth recorded by the Government. A state seal is the required verification that it is what is required to board.
Regardless, if you don't yet have a passport and intend to travel outside of the country by air, sea or land be prepared to have similar stories in the near future. It's already law for air travel, you have to have a passport. This summer they'll again vote on passing the same restriction for travel by sea. You should also be aware that for travel to some locations around the would a passport is not the only thing required. For some countries you'll need a visa, not the credit card type but a doccument from the country you're traveling to authorizing your visit. Some take a great deal of time for approval. The US Gov't and/or other Gov'ts sometimes require innoculations to visit certain countries. Some countries have restrictions on entry by citizens of certain countries even with passports and all the proper docs. A few ships port at Tripoli, Lybia. If you have a US or Israeli passport or even an Isreali stamp inside your passport, you'll be denied exit from the ship at that port. Be sure you know what you need well before you arrive at a pier or airport and that what you have is indeed all you need for your trip.
None of these issues are related to the cruiseline you book with or any rules or business practices by any of them. They are federal regulations. It is not even the duty or responsibility of the cruiseline employees or your travel agent to notify you of the actual regulations, they may not know them for travel to each and every country around the world. They should advise you on where to find out the requirements for what is needed for your itinerary. For US residents the source is www.travel.state.gov If you are a legal resident but a citizen of another country, the Consulate of your country of birth is who you contact.
Please get a passport and keep it renewed, it is considered expired if it expires within 6 months of your return from a trip outside the US. Check it before your next trip, be sure you know where it is and it is current well before you head out your front door for a trip.
That's good advice and often missed about the passport needing to be valid for six months after your return. I could not complete my on-line registration for a cruise last summer until I renewed my passport--and it was valid for five months after my return; they say six months and they mean it.
I haven't keep up with the latest regulations concerning passports but haven't they been a requirement for at least the last year or did they extend the cutoff date again? I remember the big rush that took place last year which is now over.
Rich, The regs are in place currently for US and Canadian citizens for air travel. The regs for sea travel have once again been postponed until an unspecified date in Summer of 2008. If there is someone out there with out a passport it's time.