Monday, November 12, 2012


My dad is 84 years old.  He served as a military officer (in National Intelligence in Washington) during the Korean War.  November 11 was Veteran’s Day – the day the nation honors those who have served their country through military service.  This year, it was to be the time when he and my stepmother would depart on a week-long Caribbean cruise. 

They had pre-registered several weeks earlier, including full passport information. Unfortunately, my stepmom accidentally packed two passports that had expired in 2006 instead of their current passports.

Now I know that cruise ships are pretty strict on the passport issue but they are not perfectly uniform about it.

Their old passports clearly showed that they were U.S. citizens.  They had  photocopies of their current passports and the data from current passports was in the ship’s database. They also had current driver’s licenses.  Taken together, it was totally clear who they were – U.S. Citizens and repeat Royal Caribbean customers.

Representatives from Royal Caribbean told Dad and Anna a couple of things of interest.

1)   Too bad this was on a Sunday, they said, not a Monday. Had it been Monday, they could have verified their birth certificates and they’d be on their way.
2)      Royal Caribbean, they said, is subject to the port’s security rules

Rules are rules, right?  The Port Canaveral rules clearly state that to cruise out of that port, one should have proper identification: “U.S. citizens need proof of citizenship in the form of a passport (valid or expired for less than 10 years)”

Royal Caribbean rules? “Royal Caribbean International strongly recommends that all guests travel with a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the end of the cruise.”

I’m not Perry Mason, but I do know that the term “strongly recommends” is less than “must.”

So here is my Dad, on Veterans Day – flags flying at the port. When he sees a soldier (like my nephew, a marine officer) he stands up a little straighter. He’s proud of his service and rightly so.

Royal Caribbean has nothing to be proud of in this situation. They misrepresented the regulations involved and ignored their own discretion. That’s shameful customer service that caused my 84 year-old father tremendous emotional upset. That’s not the business a cruise line is in.