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JS6CQ9

, I must inform you that Holland America's standards and practices are discriminating

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We have been sailing with Holland America for a number of years. During 2002 we sailed to SE Asia on the Prinsendam and in October 2004 to South America on the Amsterdam.

 

It is with regret and frustration, I must inform you that Holland America's standards and practices are discriminating towards passengers. Please allow me to take this opportunity to explain my negative statement towards your companies’ rules and regulations.

 

As with previous sailings on Holland America cruises, my group researched our itineraries prior to sailing and made arrangements for independent land tours. This was the case with our October 2004 sailing to South America.

 

Many of our land tours were booked and paid for in advance. I realize that on occasion this could be an issue, especially if we either dock late do to weather conditions or have immigration clearing delays.

 

However, what occurred during the immigration process in Rio de Janeiro was totally discriminatory by Holland America ship management towards privately organized land tour passengers.

 

Our arrival in Rio was at approximately 7:00 AM. During the morning, our cruise director had made numerous announcements over the public address system outlining the delay with the Brazilian immigration process. This possibility was also discussed at the previous shore excursion presentation.

 

During the excursion presentation and also over the public address system it was made perfectly clear that "NO ONE" would be permitted off of the ship until immigrations cleared the vessel. This procedure was not followed as it was conveyed.

 

At approximately 9:30 AM, H.A.L. tours started to disembark the ship for their land tours. During the next couple of hours, all H.A.L. sponsored tours (approx 600 passengers) had disembarked, however privately arranged tour passengers were detained until 2:30 PM.

 

After discussing the disembarkation process with a H.A.L. organized tour passenger, I realized that they were being granted privileges that others were being denied, including me and a fellow traveler. After our conversation, I elected to discuss the matter with our hotel manager. I was again informed that "NO ONE" was being allowed off of the ship until it was cleared.

 

During my conversation with the manager, I produced a yellow disembarkation form which allowed all H.A.L. organized tour passenger the right to disembark. He said immigration had cleared the passengers with the yellow cards. I explained if this was the case, then by pulling all of the passports for just H.A.L organized shore excursion passengers would be very time consuming and delay the clearing process. The manager explained they were pulling and clearing passports randomly. My frustrated response to him that it is a major coincident that all of the cleared passports belonged to H.A.L. land tour organized passengers.

 

If the ship was delayed in clearing, so be it! However, all passengers should have been delayed not the selected few.

 

 

 

 

In my opinion, allowing certain fee generating H.A.L. passengers off the ship was despicable. Especially when we were told, "NO ONE" leaves the ship until it was totally cleared. It is a downward spiral when profits start dictating policies against clients. In this situation, I feel the decision to allow H.A.L. land tour passengers off the ship was a decision made by profit.

 

Based upon this discriminatory H.A.L. management decision, my fellow traveler and I lost $350 each. Once again I fully understand that issues are sometimes out of our control, however to observe other individuals who paid H.A.L. for their tours being granted rights that I was not, is totally wrong.

 

During the past couple of months, I pondered about sending this letter. However after many hours of thinking through the events, I thought it would best to send you my opinion on the matter.

 

Sincerely,

John Schmidt

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That would p*ss me off royally. Did you write a letter to HAL or contact them after the cruise. That would seem to me to be a better way to resolve this matter. Posting in a forum like this can generate a little excitement, but it will not get you any closer to a happy resolution. While everything you stated my be as true as true can be, most of us here, however, only have your statements as evidence, and nobody here can know if what you are saying is true or even valid. I hope you contact HAL if you haven't already and share their point of view in this matter in the future.

 

Did this happen in any other port of call or was it only in Rio?

 

Sorry, you had this bad experience.

 

jc

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Hal is not the only line that allows those that pay their excursions first prioity. Princess and RCCL do too. It is one of the perks of paying their prices. You get to be first on the tenders too without waiting in line for a number. I have seen this both on private islands and Grand Cayman. We had a private tour on Grand Cayman and we could not get off the ship until the pax who paid their shore ex got off. BTY the tour I booked had two of the pax from the ship with us as their ex was over booked.

 

Your complaint will fall on deaf ears as it is considered to be a perk if you book their tours, they will ensure you make the tour. If you book private tours it is your own risk. The ship will wait for their tour to return but if you are on a private tour, sorry, so sad, too bad.

 

This will also be true for clearing customs. Also remember some pax are not Americans (I'm Canadian) and clearing custom for differnt countries can be time consuming and in some cases may have to locate the people involved for extra screening.

 

Once coming back into port, they woke me up at 5:30 to ask for my passport (they were looking for someone with my last name who was on some sort of list). It took an hour for them to clear me and I have no criminal record (no driving record either). It was just the name and birthday that triggered something. They said sorry and let me go eat. When I got to the airport for my flight home I learned that they found the one they were looking for in LA (I was in Miami). Her name was close to mine but not a match. She was wanted on a nationwide warrent for armed robbery, assualt and something else. Did this ruined my vaction no. But it could have been expensive if I had not made my flight home.

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John - I can see why this would make you unhappy, I certainly would be. However, I can't say I'm surprised as any line is going to take care of its tours and tour participants before another group not sponsored by the line. It does seem to me that they should have been able to take care of your situation without as much delay as you report. It is curious that all this took place in October of last year and you're just now getting around to posting it. ?????

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So, if I understand your point, you were discriminated against because the passports of you and one other weren't among the first that were randomly pulled for clearance? H-m-m-m. Sounds like simply the luck of the draw. Also, I can understand how any company would take care of it's own customers first, then others. I would also have been chaped at missing a tour and losing the money ... but that's a risk I assume when I book excursions privately (which I do sometimes.)

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Considering that the ship will wait for pax on HAL tours to return before sailing out of port, and will not wait for late-returning pax on private tours or excursions of their own, I would expect HAL tour pax to disembark first and get on their way. Everyone has the opportunity to book a HAL tour, so there is nothing discriminatory in this policy.

 

Assuring these HAL excursions run smoothly really benefits everyone, in that the ship will have a better chance of leaving port on time and keeping with the itinerary. ;)

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AS others have said, every cruise line accomodates passengers with booked tours before those who are "on their own." I've never known it to be any different.

 

A 5 hour difference in time is extraordinary, but Brazil has recently instituted new immigration rules for US citizens which could cause a delay (it's a retaliation for the U.S.Visit requirements for foreigners coming to this country).

 

Did you write to the cruise line HQ?

Did they respond?

What was their response?

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Ditto on what most are saying above (to keep from repeating).

 

Something not mentioned.. If you had Travel Insurance, did you try to get reimbursed for the tour? Since it was pre-paid, it wouldn't hurt to look into it.

 

Sorry about your delayed disembarkment. It can be frustrating and it has happend to me before on various lines including HAL (3 1/2 hr delay after first ones off in HMC).

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A few months ago, the US added Brazil to a list of nations that must now have visas and started more stringent checks to enter the US. In an effort to play diplomatic snit-fit, the Brazilian State Department started publicly saying, essentially, "Oh, yeah? Well we're going to require pre-paid visas from US citizens AND purposely delay all American's entries into Brazil, so there! THHppppt. Nyah, nyah. And your sister's ugly, too! " And of course, the average tourist is the one that has to pay the price. :rolleyes:

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Also, some countries are less "fussy" about paperwork of folks going on cruise ship tours than those traveling independently. Just another possibility.

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As dakrewser said, the real problem is with Brazil. Last Spring, the Royal Princess was at anchor in the Amazon River for 11 hours while only we American passengers were "examined" by Brazilian officials. We were at anchor at the pilot station for over an hour before the officials arrived; then, of course, they had to have lunch. The fingerprinting and photographing of each U.S. passenger then began. The officials than had to break for dinner, causing many of the Royal Princess' passengers dinners to be interrupted when they were called for the inspection. Then, seeing as the hour was getting late, the officials decided they would leave the ship and return in the morning to complete the process. Captain Burgess had a fit and somehow managed to keep them on the ship until we were all duly and properly entered into Brazil.

 

Imagine how all the non-U.S. citizens felt about this process! As a result of this, we missed a port entirely(Devil's Island) and had only 2 hours in Santarem before it got dark and was impossible to do any sightseeing.

 

While your experience certainly has to be disappointing for you, you are not the only person that has had an unpleasant experience with Brazilian immigration. In my opinion, HAL is no more responsible for what happened to you than Princess was for what happened to the people on my cruise and me.

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If this is common practice why do the cruise lines continue to stop at Brazil? Seems to me that if hours are spent clearing immigration they'd be better off slowly cruising to the next port, eliminating any ports in Brazil entirely.

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A few months ago, the US added Brazil to a list of nations that must now have visas and started more stringent checks to enter the US. In an effort to play diplomatic snit-fit, the Brazilian State Department started publicly saying, essentially, "Oh, yeah? Well we're going to require pre-paid visas from US citizens AND purposely delay all American's entries into Brazil, so there! THHppppt. Nyah, nyah. And your sister's ugly, too! " And of course, the average tourist is the one that has to pay the price. :rolleyes:

 

As I see it, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. We expect them to buy visas, so what makes us so priviledge that they should not require us to buy the same? Come to think of it, we certainly can afford it.

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Hondu, I understand what you're saying. And I can agree at least in part. However, the difference as I see it is that I don't know of any person or group who is out to attack Brazil. The U.S. has known enemies, and they will do anything they can to slip in unannounced. If it means coming in with documents from a third-party country, then they'll try that. I'm not privvy to the inner workings of the Departments of State or Homeland Security, but I would imagine there is some substantiation for their requiring visas from citizens of Brazil.

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John: I can understand your frustration and disappointment at losing your excursion fare and the excursion itself. We had a similar situation on January 7 last year when we arrived in Rio on the Amsterdam. We were the first cruise ship to arrive in Rio after the Brazilians implemented photographing and fingerprinting all US citizens before leaving the ship. We were delayed 3 hours by that process. All non-US citizens were cleared much earlier. We were lucky in that our excursion had been booked through HAL.

 

While I can sympathize with you about your plight, it souds like to me what HAL did was to give priority to those passengers who had booked excursions through them, first. While it may not seem fair to you, I can understand why HAL did that for its HAL-excursion-fare paying passengers. Just as Cat PS and Cat S passengers get priority tendering and disembarkation, those passengers who have booked excursions through HAL should get priority, IMO, in a situation like you encountered. If you looked outside the ship and saw the huge line-up of tour busses arranged by HAL excursion operators, you should have understood the reason for HAL's practice. Note, I'm not saying you had to like it, but it would have cost HAL a bundle to cancel it's tours/excursions in deference to those passengers who made other arrangements.

 

Discrimination? Probably, yes; but, not in the perjorative sense that seems to have automatically attached to that word these days to make it a lightning-rod. HAL likely made an economic decision that resulted in some passengers getting the short end of the stick, and that decision resulted in some passengers being disciminated against for economic reasons only. I think HAL made the right call. Maybe they didn't handle it as well as they could have, ie, they could have announced that passengers on HAL-arranged excursions had priority leaving the ship.

 

Life certainly is not fair sometimes, especially when one chooses to take the risk of booking excursions on their own. Perhaps that is a risk that you were not aware of when you booked the excursion. If so, that is unfortunate, and I do sympathize with you.

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The responses have been remarkably reasonable so far. :) I did note that one of the primary things the OP had a problem was not ONLY the fact of the delay, but also the alleged statement by HAL that ALL passengers would be subject to the delay. If what the OP has said is completely accurate (and there are no facts to support its verity or lack thereof), then I would say that his problem is not as much the fact of HAL's bias towards its own excursion members but rather the fact of the apparent lie.

 

I infer (yes, my inference) that the OP would not have written this letter (or not the SAME letter) if the folks had just said in a more straightforward way that HAL would be allowing its folks off first. The fact that "this happens to others" is probably true. The fact that cruise lines tend to favor the bookings over which they have some direct risk is also fairly well known. Those two facts alone would be aggravating enough. I believe the icing on the cake was the lie. And not just that it was a lie but that it was a shabby lie, easily uncovered and completely unnecessary.

 

Just my $ 0.02.

 

Cheers all!

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Thank you for all of your feedback. I would like to clearfiy and respond to some of the questions that have presented.

 

We were not the only pasengers detain bt H.A.L for over 6 1/2 hours. As I mentioned in my statement, only H.A.L. land groups were premitted off of the ship. The remaining 500 passengers had to remain on board until the vessel cleared immigrations.

 

You have missed my issue, the issue is that H.A.L. senior on board management made annoucements stating that "NO ONE" would be permitted to disembark until the ship cleared. This is my 15th cruise, I fully understand how the system works with ship organized events. However, senior managemnet should have never made the statement, "NO ONE" leaves until the ship is cleared...

 

To the point "did anyone else have an issue with this process". They most certainly did, if you read the Rio newspaper on Novemeber 10th an article will convey the entire incident.

 

As a matter of point, a on board AAA representative from the Seattle area wrote an e-mail to Kirk (CEO H.A.L.) during the period we were being detained.

 

Also, I fully understand we are at the mercy of local governments. However this is not the issue. The issue is, on board senior management continually made false statements regarding the passengers that were not detained. They made exceptions for those passengers H.A.L. land passengers and not the rest.

 

My being out of the country until mid December was one of the main reasons why I did not write this letter until now.

 

To answer the qustion, "did I write a letter to H.A.L., yes I did. This very letter was sent to all board and senior management members of H.A.L. A cc was also sent to Charlie Christ, State of Florida Attorney General. Charlie was copied do the fact that Carnival (Parent company of H.A.L.) is located in the Miami area.

 

Once again, my issue was not that we were detained, but for allowing H.A.L. land passengers off and "NO ONE" else for over 6 1/2 hours.

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I agree that it sounds like the staff on the ship mis-informed you if they said NO one could get off, and when that changed, they should have informed you. Total agreement there.

 

In terms of why HAL tour folks could get off and others could not - I repeat, perhaps it was an Immigration folks decision and not HAL. In 2002, at two ports in Asia the HAL tour folks were cleared to leave hours before the LOCAL immigration officials would let the non-tour folks off. (Guess they felt they had better control of the tour folks than the rest of us "troublemakers".)However, our Captain kept us informed through-out.

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Like most things, the negative can be "covered up" in which case it becomes an aggravator - as here. Or it can be fully explained - or dressed up, in which case it becomes a positive marketing tool. Since 9/11 Brazil - in particular has had immigration issues with the US, Canada and others also (Bardados, CR).

 

If HAL or other lines, at these ports stated, "Due to or ability to pre-screen HAL booked shore excursion customers with customs en mass, they will be able to disembark more punctually than our passengers at large", then they would probably be making a true statement that would show enhanced line excursion value and justifiably increase sales.

 

By covering up or misinforming on this issue, they blow a marketing opportunity and cause reasonable resentment of independent travelling pax - dumb.

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We have witnessed this treatment (HAL booked excursions get first priority) on several HAL cruises in the past. I agree with the poster. Booking HAL excursions should be an option without priviledges attached. If a cruiser prefers to book their own, they should not have to wait until after HAL excursions are acommodated. I believe passengers should be treated equally to enjoy a port - whether or not they booked a HAL cruise. What the poster described is similar to what we have witnessed on tender ports with HAL. It's especially a problem if the port is visited only for 1/2 day. By the time HAL gets their excursion pax off the ship, the port time is almost gone. Yet, HAL cannot handle the volume of everyone that would book if it was the only option to visit the port. So, something needs to be done to acommodate all pax equally. Happy Sailing!

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We expect them to buy visas, so what makes us so priviledge that they should not require us to buy the same?

 

I don't have a problem with that. But why delay entrance for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hou .... there, that's 6 and a half ... ?

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We have witnessed this treatment (HAL booked excursions get first priority) on several HAL cruises in the past. I agree with the poster. Booking HAL excursions should be an option without priviledges attached. If a cruiser prefers to book their own, they should not have to wait until after HAL excursions are acommodated. I believe passengers should be treated equally to enjoy a port - whether or not they booked a HAL cruise. What the poster described is similar to what we have witnessed on tender ports with HAL. It's especially a problem if the port is visited only for 1/2 day. By the time HAL gets their excursion pax off the ship, the port time is almost gone. Yet, HAL cannot handle the volume of everyone that would book if it was the only option to visit the port. So, something needs to be done to acommodate all pax equally. Happy Sailing!

 

You really answer your own question, you know. Should the ship allow a "free for all" debarkation, then scheduled excursions would all be stuck waiting for that last person with a reservation to show up. The ship knows who is going where with ship-booked tours and can group the participants so that none is forced to wait for the others. Everyone not on a ship tour is presumed to be more flexible in their arrangements. It's not perfect, but it is one of the things a person expects for the extra fees in a ship's tour.

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You really answer your own question, you know. Should the ship allow a "free for all" debarkation, then scheduled excursions would all be stuck waiting for that last person with a reservation to show up. The ship knows who is going where with ship-booked tours and can group the participants so that none is forced to wait for the others. Everyone not on a ship tour is presumed to be more flexible in their arrangements. It's not perfect, but it is one of the things a person expects for the extra fees in a ship's tour.

This sounds fair to me and what I would expect to happen when we are attempting to be tendered in to port. If I have a tour I hope there is a plan to get us off in order to meet the tour and if shopping, what difference does it make when you get off. I prefer the closest to closing time for my wife anyway.

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It has been common practice to allow passengers booked on shore excursions priority disembarkation. I think that is fair. I have never witnessed any effort to delay those who have not booked ship's excursions. In this case, I think the Brazilian authorities were caught between their desire to play tit-for-tat with the US, and the very real possibility that local tour operators would be quite angry if they were delayed any more than necessary. I have always thought that the statement saying no one will be allowed off until all have cleared immigration was simply to prevent lallygagging by passengers.

 

In any event, this thread has helped me make up my mind about a future cruise. I will remove from consideration a potential cruise from Brazil (Manaus) to the US.

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