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Akumal

Passport Fail - Cruise Line Unforgiving

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Last July, after much planning and paying in full for a long-anticipated vacation to the Baltic and Scandinavia, our family was denied boarding at the departure airport (SFO) because our US Passports fell two days outside the "valid for 90 days after return" rule.  Our return flight back to the USA was scheduled for July 19, and although our passports would not expire until after October 16, 2019, it was 2 days less the than the required 90 days interval.  This was a total shock to us, especially because neither the airline, the travel agent, nor cruise line notified us beforehand that the expiration dates of our US Passports fell two days within the "90 days after return" rule, even though we had submitted numerous information forms to each of them that included the relevant passport information.  What use is automated pre-registration if not to alert users to date problems?  Bottom line - I failed to read the fine print somewhere that refers to passenger responsibility for researching and abiding by international tourism paperwork rules.  Very painful lesson learned.  

 

 We had to cancel our prepaid flights, cruise, hotels, and tours.  Travel insurance reimbursed only a small portion of costs.  Fortunately, the airline gave us partial credit for the cancelled flight as a courtesy, as did the hotel.  But the cruise line (Norwegian) was unforgiving.  We lost thousands of dollars in cruise fares. Even though we are loyal Norwegian Cruise Line customers, they refused to offer any courtesy compensation or credit for future cruises. 

 

This experience has taught me to be more diligent about international travel documents well in advance.  But for lack of compassion and lousy customer service, Norwegian has lost all future business from our family and friends.

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While I sympathize with your situation (we all make mistakes, and I have made my share), I always thought it was widely understood that many countries require passport validity for 3-6 months past the intended stay. 

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It is a shame this happened to you. I don't understand why some countries need 3 to 6 months before expiration. It throws you off when you see the expiration date on your passport and just think you are okay til then.

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9 minutes ago, FLAHAM said:

While I sympathize with your situation (we all make mistakes, and I have made my share), I always thought it was widely understood that many countries require passport validity for 3-6 months past the intended stay. 

"Wildly understood" doesn't mean that people are aware of this.  I only know of this because of cc.  If not for this forum, I'd just assume something is good until the date of expiration.  Isn't that what "a date of expiration" is all about.  And I'd think that if the data is entered on a computer....the computer would catch the problem.

I think that the TAs should alert the passengers about the requirements and that he, the passenger has the responsibility to check things.

 

Edited by April42749

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16 minutes ago, April42749 said:

"Wildly understood" doesn't mean that people are aware of this.  I only know of this because of cc.  If not for this forum, I'd just assume something is good until the date of expiration.  Isn't that what "a date of expiration" is all about.  And I'd think that if the data is entered on a computer....the computer would catch the problem.

I think that the TAs should alert the passengers about the requirements and that he, the passenger has the responsibility to check things.

 

Well, let's put it this way:  In 50+ years of traveling abroad as an adult, I've never had a travel agent that didn't mention it.  I suppose NCL could reprogram its computers to catch lack of entry visas and other travel documents as well as passport expiration requirements by countries visited, but I am unaware of any mass market cruise line that does this. 

Edited by FLAHAM

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Akumal, I know you will get alot of responses here saying its entirely your fault, etc. However by posting you have made people aware to pay attention and look out for the expiration dates. If you save one person from what you went through I hope you feel it is worthwhile.  So sorry you had such a terrible result to your vacation. It does seem that with all the electronic registrations and such a warning should pop up somewhere, however I suspect you may have had the same end result regardless of cruiseline. I for one will be checking my passport expiration date!

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Airlines and cruise lines will, at most, direct you to a site where you can check what you need to enter the country. There are just too many combinations plus changing rules for them to continuously update their websites. Not to mention issue of you fat fingering wrong dates. 

 

The TA is possibly the only one that had any culpability. My guess is you used an online travel agency that is nothing more than a booking agent. Though there's a large online cruise site that you can call, but it honestly has so much turnover most agents are more like a call center with limited training. 

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That was a tough lesson to learn.  I don't understand why your travel insurance didn't reimburse you fully.  Also you seem to blame NCL when it was the airline that denied you boarding.  Shouldn't you blame them?

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14 minutes ago, Buckeye10640 said:

Akumal, I know you will get alot of responses here saying its entirely your fault, etc. However by posting you have made people aware to pay attention and look out for the expiration dates. If you save one person from what you went through I hope you feel it is worthwhile.  So sorry you had such a terrible result to your vacation. It does seem that with all the electronic registrations and such a warning should pop up somewhere, however I suspect you may have had the same end result regardless of cruiseline. I for one will be checking my passport expiration date!

Yes, a good warning post and a reminder to all to check those details.  Visa requirements changed on a cruise after I'd booked and fortunately I caught it in plenty of time.  While it would be nice if a warning came up when you do your check in, there isn't one.

My passport expires this summer and I had to quickly mail it off between cruises to get it renewed in time. That process can take up to 2 months and you're without a passport during that time, unless you pay fees to expedite.  Plus you get a new number, so once it comes back I'll have to make changes to everything - airlines, tsa precheck and so forth.

I've seen a couple of posts regarding visas for Canada now, so any non-US citizens on Alaska cruises need to check that.

 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Oakman58 said:

That was a tough lesson to learn.  I don't understand why your travel insurance didn't reimburse you fully.  Also you seem to blame NCL when it was the airline that denied you boarding.  Shouldn't you blame them?

 

Travel insurance isn’t going to pay for the insurers mistake. 

 

And in no no way is this NCLs fault and they have no reason to “forgive” the OP. No other cruise line would have reimbursed him. 

 

My travel agent (a real one) reminds me every trip to check my passport. 

 

 

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This is a terrible way to learn a lesson but glad the OP posted. I wondered whether this rule was ever so strongly enforced. I have a cruise booked in February and another in March. My passport expires in September. When I realized the dates of the March cruise would overlap the 6 month period, I immediately found out how to get an expedited passport at a passport agency. I got my new passport photo done and made an appointment at the passport agency in Miami. I was wondering whether this would be wasted energy and $$ (for the expedited passport) because I do have a break from cruising between June and November and thought I could possibly wait until after the June cruise ended. After reading this, I'm so glad I went with my better instincts and just got (almost) everything done. My Miami appointment is not until 1/22. I leave on my February cruise less than 2 weeks later. Fingers still crossed that nothing goes wrong.

Edited by NRWPA

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sorry you had to go through this, but bottom line is...that it's not their responsibility to notify anyone of possible conflicts to expiration dates with a  passport. So many countries have different requirements of how much 'time' is left on your passport... some require 3 months (90 days) some require 6 months....they have enough to keep up with knowing the rules.  imho,  even though your passport says valid for 10 yrs,  it's really only 9 1/2 or so.  The easiest thing to do is plan on renewing that puppy early in year 10 of its validity.  

 

The airlines do have software that checks the validity requirements when you check in, as you found out.  They don't do notifications before you show up...they  put the onus on you to have checked the requirements and make sure everything is good to go.  It's a hard lesson for those of us who don't travel internationally frequently.  

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While it is terribly sad that you were denied boarding and missed a highly anticipated trip it is not the fault of the cruise line.  NCL's website very clearly discusses required travel documentation. https://www.ncl.com/freestyle-cruise/cruise-travel-documents

 

Thank you for posting, as it reminded me to double check our travel documents and travel insurance to make sure everything was in order.

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2 hours ago, Akumal said:

Last July, after much planning and paying in full for a long-anticipated vacation to the Baltic and Scandinavia, our family was denied boarding at the departure airport (SFO) because our US Passports fell two days outside the "valid for 90 days after return" rule.  Our return flight back to the USA was scheduled for July 19, and although our passports would not expire until after October 16, 2019, it was 2 days less the than the required 90 days interval.  This was a total shock to us, especially because neither the airline, the travel agent, nor cruise line notified us beforehand that the expiration dates of our US Passports fell two days within the "90 days after return" rule, even though we had submitted numerous information forms to each of them that included the relevant passport information.  What use is automated pre-registration if not to alert users to date problems?  Bottom line - I failed to read the fine print somewhere that refers to passenger responsibility for researching and abiding by international tourism paperwork rules.  Very painful lesson learned.  

 

 We had to cancel our prepaid flights, cruise, hotels, and tours.  Travel insurance reimbursed only a small portion of costs.  Fortunately, the airline gave us partial credit for the cancelled flight as a courtesy, as did the hotel.  But the cruise line (Norwegian) was unforgiving.  We lost thousands of dollars in cruise fares. Even though we are loyal Norwegian Cruise Line customers, they refused to offer any courtesy compensation or credit for future cruises. 

 

This experience has taught me to be more diligent about international travel documents well in advance.  But for lack of compassion and lousy customer service, Norwegian has lost all future business from our family and friends.

Sorry this happened. 
 

But the cruise line did not deny you boarding. The airline did. 
 

Further, passengers from hundreds of countries cruise. And the cruise line has no idea where you are flying from, where you are flying to, where you are stopping. That’s why it is up to you to understand the requirements. 
 

And something doesn’t seem right about a US airlines looking for a US passport holder leaving from a US airport and return to a US airport requiring a 90 day passport. There is something else that you have not disclosed about your circumstances. 

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7 minutes ago, BirdTravels said:

 

And something doesn’t seem right about a US airlines looking for a US passport holder leaving from a US airport and return to a US airport requiring a 90 day passport. There is something else that you have not disclosed about your circumstances. 

 

This!
A U.S. passport is valid to allow you back into the country up and until the day it expires.  

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I am often hard on NCL when I think they deserve it.  In this case, NCL did not do anything wrong.  If the cruise lines gave refunds or other compensation for passengers screwing up, ALL the cruise lines would go broke.

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31 minutes ago, BirdTravels said:

And something doesn’t seem right about a US airlines looking for a US passport holder leaving from a US airport and return to a US airport requiring a 90 day passport. There is something else that you have not disclosed about your circumstances. 

 

If an airline flies someone to a country that doesn't have valid documents to enter not only does the airline have to pay to immediately fly them back to their origin country they will get fined thousands of dollars. (Though I have read articles on someone being detained vs handed back to the airline for a return flight.) Therefore airlines check to make sure each passenger has valid documents to enter the country they're flying to either during in person checkin or at the gate. It saves them money and likely grief from the country allowing them into their airspace. 

 

In this case their passport didn't have the required 90 days of validity past the day of their exit flight so they did not have valid documents to enter the country. 

Edited by smplybcause

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16 minutes ago, Sauer-kraut said:

 

This!
A U.S. passport is valid to allow you back into the country up and until the day it expires.  

Last time I flew international, the first thing I had to do at the airport was scan my passport at the kiosk.  All my flight info came up but couldn't print tags, boarding passes etc. because of a visa glitch (system error, not mine).  First leg was domestic, 2nd was international.  So return flight info would also be in the system and flag the dates.

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17 minutes ago, julig22 said:

Last time I flew international, the first thing I had to do at the airport was scan my passport at the kiosk.  All my flight info came up but couldn't print tags, boarding passes etc. because of a visa glitch (system error, not mine).  First leg was domestic, 2nd was international.  So return flight info would also be in the system and flag the dates.


what if your return flight is on a different airline ?

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What’s up with NCL?  I know I am in the minority, but I think they could have helped out.  It’s not like they didn’t pocket your money and you are asking for complete freebies.  They could have at least given you a cruise that they would have given to a travel agent anyway.

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56 minutes ago, Cafedumonde said:

What’s up with NCL?  I know I am in the minority, but I think they could have helped out.  It’s not like they didn’t pocket your money and you are asking for complete freebies.  They could have at least given you a cruise that they would have given to a travel agent anyway.

No show does not give the cruise line any time to fill the cabin.  In addition no shows do not spend any money on board, don't tip anyone.  

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I am confused.

Why didn't you just re-book your return flight to fall within "intended stay (in Schengen Zone) plus 3 months"?, 

As it was a Baltic cruise on NCL, you would normally be embarking/disembarking in Copenhagen.  You could disembark early in Helsinki or the designated Swedish port, both within the Schengen zone, after the excursion to the non Schengen Russian Federation.  You just inform GS after you depart Copenhagen.  

Alternatively, if flying into Copenhagen a day or longer before the cruise, you head immediately to the US Embassy  and you will obtain emergency passport replacements within usually 2 hours.  Then change your return flights back!

Yes, I've done it!   (I had a party to attend in Gothenburg).

The cruise itself is of no concern to the airline.  Instead of your 9 day cruise adventure, you're in Denmark for a week is what the airline needs to hear and what you tell Danish immigration upon arrival at Kastrup.

I am currently travelling on an emergency passport that I will renew at a Schengen zone US Embassy at least 6 months before expiration.  


 

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5 hours ago, BirdTravels said:

And something doesn’t seem right about a US airlines looking for a US passport holder leaving from a US airport and return to a US airport requiring a 90 day passport. There is something else that you have not disclosed about your circumstances. 

 

5 hours ago, Sauer-kraut said:

 

This!
A U.S. passport is valid to allow you back into the country up and until the day it expires.  

 

It has nothing to do with leaving and returning to the US, that is not an issue and the OP have a valid passport for that.

 

If the foreign country that you are flying too denies you entry because you don't have a valid passport it is the airline that are stuck with transporting you back to the US, the alternative is doing a Tom Hanks (The Terminal) and being stranded airside until the return flight, a far worse situation!

 

This is not anyone's responsibility except the OP's, simply don't book travel without going on your country's government website to check entry requirements of the country you plan to travel too.

 

I honestly don't know why people can't take responsibility for their own actions these days, there is a culture of blame nowadays, people are always looking to pass the blame and can't put their hands up and say "I screwed up!".

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11 hours ago, Akumal said:

......But for lack of compassion and lousy customer service, Norwegian has lost all future business from our family and friends.

Nothing I have read indicates that NCL were complicit in any way. But you have made a clear decision to deny future business to NCL, and you appear to suggest that your family and friends also believe NCL were at fault!

 

Doubtless you will have many opportunities to further blacken NCLs name on other cruiselines. If you take these opportunities, hopefully there will be some who will challenge your thinking on NCLs 'role' in this extremely unfortunate experience.

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