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 letter "PA" were not next to our names!
I asked her to clarify this, even though I presented the legal document required for us to board that boat, 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 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. 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. It's been 10 days. As of today , no one has yet responeded.
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.
If we were wrong, and I'm missing something, 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, please let us know. Thank you.
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