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  #1  
Old February 16th, 2013, 10:07 AM
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Angry Holland America Lines Disasterdam

My wife and I were so excited to be headed to Florida for our first cruise ever. After months of planning and preparation we headed from Tennessee to Florida eager to sail on Holland America Lines Eurodam for a much anticipated 7 Day Eastern Caribbean Cruise. We had contacted HAL a month earlier to make sure our documentation would be adequate, and took a copy of our conversation with us. Unfortunately, after 4 grueling hours of waiting at the Holland America port in Fort Lauderdale, we were informed that we would not be able to board the ship because my birth certificate was not sufficient documentation for travel.

My father was a U.S. Army soldier married to my German mother, when I was born at a U.S. Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, making me an automatic natural born U.S. Citizen. Even though, I had contacted the cruise line prior to our departure to inform them of the exact details of my documentation, and their representative assured me I would have no problems going on the cruise with my original birth certificate, we were denied boarding and left abandoned on the dock like discarded garbage as the ship sailed away. It was a very disappointing and traumatic experience.
On top of the humiliation and disappointment this unanticipated change of plans in our first "dream" cruise vacation also resulted in many other hardships; like being gouged by taxi drivers, car rental companies, motels, and Spirit Airlines [NEVER AGAIN!] for changing our flight schedule, and spending over an additional $1,500 more than we had budgeted for this "vacation".

It amazed, shocked, and highly offended me that we could not be allowed to go on a cruise, and to be treated with such inconsiderate disrespect. HAL has thus far denied a make-over cruise, only offering to give us a few upgrades and complimentary meals if we would pay for another cruise. This only adds insult to injury! Since we confirmed in explicit detail with two HAL representatives several weeks prior to our departure the exact nature of my documentation, and where adamantly reassured by both of them that it would be sufficient for this cruise, and we would have no problem with boarding, shouldn't they be accountable for their own "expert" management's erroneous promises?
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  #2  
Old February 16th, 2013, 10:19 AM
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My only comment -- you should have gotten a passport.

Then all this would have been avoided.
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  #3  
Old February 16th, 2013, 10:20 AM
sail7seas sail7seas is offline
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I am so sorry to hear of your disappointment but HAL has not choice. If you do not have adequate travel documents, they have to answer to U.S. Officials why they permitted you to board. HAL does not make the rules; U.S. government does.

It had to be an awful experience for you but you must have had some hesitation about those documents for you to have worried in advance. As a traveler, it is our responsibility to be sure our papers are in order and to do whatever necessary to accomplish that. Did you consider getting a passport when you recognized your birth certificate was 'questionable'?

Hopefully you can get a passport and never have this happen again.
Best wishes.
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  #4  
Old February 16th, 2013, 10:22 AM
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First, I'm sorry you weren't able to take part in your much anticipated vacation. Your frustration and disappointment is evident in your post.

Was the issue that you don't have a passport? If you didn't already, why didn't you get one? I'd think it may have been the more proactive approach that could've alleviated/prevented any headaches.

Perhaps you could reach out to the specific representatives that made the assurances to you and see if they can help with your ordeal. Best of luck.
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  #5  
Old February 16th, 2013, 10:25 AM
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I'm sorry to hear that your vacation/cruise was a bust.

However, I cannot believe in this day an age that you didn't know that a Passport is required for travel out of country. Every cruise contract I have read have stated requirement for a valid passport.

Holland America does not have the power to change immigration/customs requirements.
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Old February 16th, 2013, 10:29 AM
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Sorry to hear of you messed up vacation plans.

I would assume your birth certificate was from Germany based on your account.
The biggest problem is that the rules can change. Even if what you were told was correct at the time, the security regulations may have been tightened.

We never travel without our passport. We normally need it, but even if we didn't we would have it with us. One never knows where one could end up and it is irrefutable identification for the cruise ship

It is our responsibility as travellers to investigate what we need. I know I need a visa for China next year - and have already been investigating. Whether HAL tells me or not, I check the countries to make sure there will be no other requirements (like visas). I'm not taking the risk of being able to board the ship.

Have you written Seattle or just talked on the phone. I would send a letter or email along with copies of your emails (or scanned).

Good luck. I feel for you and your disappointment.
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  #7  
Old February 16th, 2013, 10:36 AM
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I just don't understand why people would not get a passport. HAL gave bad info but the OP needs to accept the blame for this.
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  #8  
Old February 16th, 2013, 10:40 AM
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Passport!! very necessary.

As for being an automatic US citizen, I can tell you a tale about just such a case. I have been helping a friend obtain a copy of a German birth certificate for her son. His birth should have be registered with the US authorities but it never was, hence the need for the German certificate to finally get the paperwork done over here.

But, as others have suggested, I would write to Seattle with the details and see if they will do something more for you. And at the same time, I would apply for a passport so the situation doesn't happen again.

Good luck on all counts.
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  #9  
Old February 16th, 2013, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sail7seas View Post
It had to be an awful experience for you but you must have had some hesitation about those documents for you to have worried in advance.
Thank you for your reply, HAL rep,sail7seas. Yes, having never been on a cruise before in my life, I was obviously concerned about the potentiality for confusion with my documentation. That is why I contacted Holland America Lines directly a month prior to our departure, as I explained multiple times in my post. After explaining in detail to them the exact nature of my documentation, and being reassured by a HAL representative, and her supervisor, that there would be no problem with going on this cruise with this birth certificate, any "hesitation" was relieved. As a "newbie", why should I have questioned the reassuring word and advice of the cruise lines "expert"?
Attaching a copy of the chat convo between me and the HAL representatives:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg HAL Transcript 2 001.jpg (9.9 KB, 1110 views)

Last edited by ejammer; February 16th, 2013 at 10:57 AM.
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  #10  
Old February 16th, 2013, 10:49 AM
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I totally understand.

Last year, we bought and paid for a cabin for two of our friends. We all were traveling with ID's and Birth certificates...Since we had a house fire, and our Passports were destroyed a couple years ago, and we never replaced them...

Our friends had never had passports...
AFTER I bought our cabins....for our trip in in two and half weeks... My friend who (who has no money invested in this trip btw) tells me..he's born in Canada to American service member parents...just like you...

He didnt have a regular birth certificate...

He needed a "Report of consular Birth form" or something like that....Which is what they give Americans born abroad.. Im sure you know that now...We found a list of acceptable documents on our cruise lines website (celebrity)

My friend had that original document....and he WAS permitted to sail....

The rules are the same for all the cruise lines.... you just have to do a little due dilligence...before you hand over your money or turn up at the dock...

Easy for me to say now...
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  #11  
Old February 16th, 2013, 10:51 AM
Mary Ellen Mary Ellen is offline
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DH is also a 'US citizen born abroad' as his father was also stationed in Germany when he was born. In his case both of his parents were natural born US citizens. We've NEVER travelled with just his German birth certificate, even combined with his 'certificate of US citizen born abroad' or his official US Army translation of this birth certificate. Common sense dictated that he get a passport in case any questions arose.

Heck we both remember back in the early 80s when DH applied for his first (adult) passport. The clerk doing passports at the post office kept fingering the raised seal on his 'certificate of US citizen born abroad'. It was obvious that he was doubtful that a passport would be issued to DH but sent it in with the birth certificate as we insisted. The passport was issued without a problem and he's kept his passport renewed ever since.

I'm sorry things didn't go as you had planned, but I can't imagine depending upon what 'someone' from a cruise line on the phone (or by email) told me regarding US immigration requirements. Bottom line, we're responsible to have the documentation required. Getting a passport is cheap insurance, particularly when things are a little off from the norm (like being born abroad).

Last edited by Mary Ellen; February 16th, 2013 at 10:55 AM. Reason: Duplicate word
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  #12  
Old February 16th, 2013, 10:56 AM
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I am confused? Didn't you post this previously, with a link to your blog and the conversation with the HAL representatives? I can't find it now but either I am psychic or I have seen it before

I would be highly upset too and I do think HAL has some responsibility but humans make errors and the responsibility does come down to you in the end. You were diligent about checking it out with HAL but I would probably have gone to official government sources rather than relying on a cruise line. Or just gotten a passport.

Honestly, passports are not that expensive, not a very difficult process and they are good for 10 years in the US.
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  #13  
Old February 16th, 2013, 10:57 AM
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I'm sorry that you had this happen to you.
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  #14  
Old February 16th, 2013, 10:59 AM
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I understand your anger, and agree that HAL should be held responsible for giving you incorrect information. Too often companies make mistakes (yours was a doozie), apologize, and that's it. They don't take responsibility for that mistake by making it right.

I am guessing that you were using a German birth certificate, and not a US State Department notice of US citizen born abroad.
In either case, though, the people at the port would have been looking at a document they were not used to seeing, and would have wanted further evidence. It's true that a passport would have resolved the problem. Now you know better.

I am very sorry that your longed-for cruise never happened, and for your disappointment. I hope you get the proof of citizenship that you need, and have many wonderful cruises in your future.
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  #15  
Old February 16th, 2013, 11:08 AM
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Hi,
I am so sorry to know about your incident. I understand what you were feeling being stranded while your ship sailed away. That is impossible.

You can try to apply to HAL headquarters in a polite way with a well documented request for a compensation they may find reasonable.

However the first thing I suggest you do is asking the admin to change the title of this thread which is offensive because the beautiful ship Eurodam has no connection with your passport incident.
They read CC and a title like this won't help you solve the problem.

Good luck!
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  #16  
Old February 16th, 2013, 11:12 AM
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Lightbulb Birth Certificate questions...............

Quote:
Originally Posted by ejammer View Post
My wife and I were so excited to be headed to Florida for our first cruise ever. After months of planning and preparation we headed from Tennessee to Florida eager to sail on Holland America Lines Eurodam for a much anticipated 7 Day Eastern Caribbean Cruise. We had contacted HAL a month earlier to make sure our documentation would be adequate, and took a copy of our conversation with us. Unfortunately, after 4 grueling hours of waiting at the Holland America port in Fort Lauderdale, we were informed that we would not be able to board the ship because my birth certificate was not sufficient documentation for travel.

My father was a U.S. Army soldier married to my German mother, when I was born at a U.S. Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, making me an automatic natural born U.S. Citizen. Even though, I had contacted the cruise line prior to our departure to inform them of the exact details of my documentation, and their representative assured me I would have no problems going on the cruise with my original birth certificate, we were denied boarding and left abandoned on the dock like discarded garbage as the ship sailed away. It was a very disappointing and traumatic experience.
On top of the humiliation and disappointment this unanticipated change of plans in our first "dream" cruise vacation also resulted in many other hardships; like being gouged by taxi drivers, car rental companies, motels, and Spirit Airlines [NEVER AGAIN!] for changing our flight schedule, and spending over an additional $1,500 more than we had budgeted for this "vacation".

It amazed, shocked, and highly offended me that we could not be allowed to go on a cruise, and to be treated with such inconsiderate disrespect. HAL has thus far denied a make-over cruise, only offering to give us a few upgrades and complimentary meals if we would pay for another cruise. This only adds insult to injury! Since we confirmed in explicit detail with two HAL representatives several weeks prior to our departure the exact nature of my documentation, and where adamantly reassured by both of them that it would be sufficient for this cruise, and we would have no problem with boarding, shouldn't they be accountable for their own "expert" management's erroneous promises?
I will not beleaguer whether a Passport should have been purchased or not. My opinion on that is not relevant to what you went through..Well not much anyway

My questions are with your Birth Certificate.

Let me say that my daughter was born at a private German Entbendungsheim (Birth Hospital) 40 years ago. Both her father and I are American and Father was US Army.

Daughter was issued a German Birth Certificate at birth, because the German Government considered her as a German citizen first because she was born in a Private hospital not on American soil such as Frankfurt's 59th General Hospital.. Old Laws that has since been changed.

As soon after her birth as possible we made an appointment with the US Consulate and applied for an American Birth Certifiacate for her. At that time we were informed that under (then current) the laws of both Germany and the US, at the age of 18 she had to declare which nationality she wanted to be listed as and to relinquish the rights of the country she did not choose.

At 18 she chose, of course, American Citizenship and we helped her to contact the State Department and received her American citizenship, at the same time relinquishing her DDual Status.

I am guessing that you may have had similar, to a point, because your mom is German, so you have(?) dual citizenship also?? Or have not gone through the required process to drop your German citizenship at the age of 18?

IF that is the case, and it is kind of rare, then the HAL personnel in Seattle would most likely be unaware of the complicity of your Birth Certificate issue, and more than likely gave you the answer they KNEW, which would pertain to a person born after the laws were changed. I cannot remember when the laws of Dual Citizenship was changed but it had to be after 1972 when my daughter was born...

I am so sorry that you and your wife went through this. It saddens me to hear of it...........

It now shows others who might have a possible scenarion, the importance of

a. Contacting the US State Department about such matters
b. Having a Passport.

Again, I am so sorry

Joanie
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  #17  
Old February 16th, 2013, 11:16 AM
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I also am very sorry you were unable to take your Eurodam cruise. And the following comments are not directed at you personally. You were told by HAL staff that your documentation was acceptable and you took them at their word which is totally understandable.

But when I hear others say they don't want to get a passport for this that and the other reason, I get so exasperated. Why not? It is easy to do, it lasts ten years, and if one travels, it is the only form of ID the US gov't will accept for international travel which cruising is IMO. We use our passports for ID on domestic airlines as well as traveling on cruiseships.
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  #18  
Old February 16th, 2013, 11:17 AM
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I don't know how the OP could not have known that she needed a passport to travel outside the country. There has been ample news reports during the last two years, advising U.S. citizens that they will need a passport. Further, if the OP had thought to check the HAL website, she would have seen that a passport was needed. It is unfortunate that she had to learn the hard way that the necessary information should come from an authentic source and not over the telephone from a questionable source.
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  #19  
Old February 16th, 2013, 11:20 AM
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Lessa123, No, I have not posted this previously on this site. I have, however, shared this horrific experience on a few other venues, and will continue to do so, in hopes of helping others avoid this experience. Perhaps you read one of those (or are having a psychic experience about one I haven't yet posted somewhere else), or perhaps you read another similar one, as I am confident I am not the only one who has experienced this type of tragedy with Holland America Lines: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/holland.html
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  #20  
Old February 16th, 2013, 11:22 AM
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To the original poster... in your second post, you refer to Sail7Seas as a Hal Rep. As far as I know, Sail is not an official HAL rep, but I could be wrong.

This board is for people that cruise. People that are researching their first cruise ever or discussing their 50th cruise.

If you had come here and asked about document requirements before your cruise, your very first response would have been to get a passport.
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