Port separation anxiety is a term I use to describe the sudden decision some cruise passengers are faced with when a member of their party has to be left behind — usually because they don’t have a passport or the right kind of birth certificate.
It’s never an easy choice, but it’s particularly difficult when a family is being separated. Do we leave Mom and Dad behind and take the cruise, or do we turn around and go home?
But that was the decision Ananth Channaveer had to make when he tried to board Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas in Seattle recently.
He’d paid about $7,450 for a one-week cruise to the Last Frontier through Cruises.com. And he suspected there might be a passport problem with his parents, who carry Indian passports.
I specifically asked the Royal Caribbean customer service, once I booked the ticket, if my parents needed Canadian visas and I was told they were not needed.
We flew from San Francisco to Seattle. While trying to board the cruise liner, my parents were denied entry because they didn’t have Canadian visas. Since we all wanted to cruise together we all could not take the cruise.
Channaveer contacted RCCL in writing, asking for a full refund. Here’s how it responded.
I am very sorry to learn that you were unable to sail with us. We understand how much our guests look forward to their vacation and we regret having to deny any guest boarding.
Verifying the documentation needed is an important part of the vacation planning process. We rely on each of our guests to research what their specific requirements may be, based on citizenship, immigration status, and cruise destinations. In an effort to assist, we post and frequently update our website and Guest Ticket Booklets informing of this.
I truly regret that you were unaware of this information prior to the sailing.
Additionally, we understand how much our guests look forward to, and have invested, in their vacation. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer a refund as requested. I kindly advise, for future reference, that you consider purchasing CruiseCare insurance, which can assist in these types of situations.
Ah, the old form letter. But if an RCCL representative told Channaveer that he’d have no problem with the Indian passports, doesn’t that count for anything? I decided to check with the company.
Here’s what it told me:
I asked Customer Service to look into this guest’s issue.
They checked both reservations, and they have no record of Mr. Channaveer or anyone else contacting Royal Caribbean about this issue until after they were denied boarding.
The first contact with Customer Service was on July 29, when Mr. Channaveer called to see what we could do for him since his parents were denied boarding and they did not take their cruise. The agent apologized and told him that we could not provide him with a refund, as it is the guest’s responsibility to have the proper documentation and/or visas. The agent did advise the guest that we would be able to refund the taxes and fees paid.