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This post is mainly for UK correspondents, I would be interested to hear of similar experiences, as many UK passengers are saying they will not travel to the USA again because of it.

On a UK Cruise site there is a massive debate going on concerning US Homeland Security, and the time it takes for UK passengers to clear immigration at US ports. On our arrival in San Francisco on Sea Princess after our recent trans Panama Cruise, the queues for immigratation for NON US citizens, went from the stage of the Vista Lounge at the stern around of the ship around all the rows of seats back through and around the atrium and along all the rows of seats in the theatre at the bow of the ship. It was explained that US Immigration was not computerised in San Francisco. People arriving for clearance at 0830 were getting cleared by 1200hrs. Passengers were also informed that even when cleared you could not go ashore until the last passenger had cleared. Eventually they had to give up on that or there would have been a mutiny. Quit a few people missed flights because of this. It appears now that this sort of treatment is the norm and NOT the exception. For example it took P anO Ventura almost 24 hours to clear immigration recently at Miami.. The problem appears to be mainly on ships where the majority of passengers are UK citizens.

US immigration really need to be told, in no uncertain terms that whilst we realise in this day and age that security is of prime importance, that holding up many middle aged and aging non US citizens is doing the tourist economy serious damage. They could easily cut down the numbers by profiling and percentage checks. They carry out thorough checks through the Visa Waiver programme anyway!!

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It appears now that this sort of treatment is the norm and NOT the exception.

 

Your comments on the tedious, long, unfriendly, invasive and often rude non-welcomee to the US IS the norm. You would think that a country drowning in red ink and unemployment would welcome foreign tourism and do everything possible to welcocme tourists, whilst at the same time securing the borders.

 

This is exactly the reason why Royal Caribbean's ship that is homeporting in Panama is doing so well, or why Tocumen International Airport in Panama City is growing so fast they can hardly keep up. People see Panama as a way to avoid the US hassles. I'm surprised that the other big cruise lines haven't caught on. If you look at all the ships now being repositioned around the world, it's not just that Australia and Great Britain, etc., have great cruise markets, it's also that folks from elsewhere in the world can embark and disembark without all the drama and hassle of doing so in the US.

 

Regards, Richard

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Hi All

 

CC is covering the story of the P&O ship docking in LA, the tenth time passengers on that cruise had touched US soil, being held up for 8 hours, no food, water, toilets etc to the point passengers were fainting. almost all, as these is a world cruise were over 65 of age .

 

In the past at St Thomas we once docked to have only one customs officer arrive to do the whole ship, some folk never got of the ship as it took him to sailing time to clear all on the ship.

 

However last month when we arrived in St Thomas no customs just walked off the ship.

 

Having flown into Miami a few times a wait of an hour was normal, two the worest, however on my last visit many more officers on duty, no ques of more than 8 people so ten minutes, and we were cleared.

 

 

We also did a turn around in Ft L this was even quicker no passport stamp just walked passed with passport open, and that was it.

 

Things have got a lot better overall, however there are still times when the system breaks down,

 

why finger print every finger, eye scan, photo etc for some one who is a regular visitor. By that I mean many times in the same month.

 

I have picked cruises using Jamica, Barbados just to avoid customs, when doing the Caribbean.

 

yours Shogun

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Its very sad. Even Canadians who are spared SOME of the hassle, have taken to avoiding travel in and out of the US as much as possible. I hate to think what its costing in lost tourist revenue.

 

While the security may be necessary, being treated like a criminal by people who are drunk with power is not.

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Hmmm. I must say that's quite a contrast to our experiences as US citizens when entering the EU at Brussels, Frankfurt, etc. A glance at the passports by Passport Control, collect your bags, walk by Customs, and Bob's your uncle.

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My Mom is a U.S. resident alien, SINCE 1954 :eek:.

 

She is a German citizen who married my father during the occupation after the war.

 

Every time we travel, whether on a cruise, and/or by air we are held-up at immigration/customs and asked a thousand questions. Every time we go to the airport she is pulled aside and just about strip-searched, this reached a pathetic level when we were coming back from Cancun and just before boarding the plane, they pulled her aside and literally dumped everything out of her carry-on and subjected her to yet another thorough body search AFTER GOING THROUGH THE METAL DETECTORS where she was also patted down!

 

And, every time we fly, when we pick-up her checked luggage the locks have been cut off and we have the TSA notice inside.

 

And, because she has had the same resident alien number since 1954, the customs agents don't believe that her documentation is authentic because THEY have never seen such a low number.

 

Oh, did I state that she is 77-years old? That's her on the far left in the picture. Really got to worry about those elderly individuals who have never had so much as a J-walking ticket.:mad:

 

Just sayin'

 

 

 

Jim

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Hmmm. I must say that's quite a contrast to our experiences as US citizens when entering the EU at Brussels, Frankfurt, etc. A glance at the passports by Passport Control, collect your bags, walk by Customs, and Bob's your uncle.

 

Took us 2 hours to clear customs in Frankfurt in 2008 while en route to Venice. They went through every inch of my carryons with a fine tooth comb. I was a little miffed at first but then realized that it's a part of traveling. I'm sure certain things could be streamlined with US customs but overall, after Sept 11th, the extra security precautions are needed.

 

These are just my humble thoughts.

 

Bob

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I live in Canada but am English. I go through the same thing as every other Brit. ESTA, Green Visa, Fingerprinting. It's a little extra work for me to go through, but never enough to stop me from travelling there. I've encountered one or two rude agents, but I would think in that profession it's a given. Obviously the case of the news story in question is rare.. are they surly? sure. Did they perhaps get heavy handed because of a few loud mouths? probably. Would it ever stop me travelling to the US? NEVER.

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Of course Homeland Security has to harass age 65+ UK citizens. It is not politically correct to take a second look at single males of Middle Eastern descent between the ages of 18 - 35. My 92 year old grandmother got the same treatment as NoGvmt's mom and refuses to fly anymore. She is of Irish descent, red hair and green eyes. Hopefully enough of my fellow countrymen will wake up and take care of this over the next couple of elections.

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I think saying the US is targeting UK citizens is silly. Can't speak for the ports but the non-US citizen queue at JFK can easily stretch to 2 hours. And you know what.... So can the non-EU queue at Heathrow. In fact I have taken to avoiding London entirely as a gateway to Europe because of the hassle at Heathrow. This is a reason we didn't even consider a UK port for departure for our Baltic cruise. So it's not just the US. Never had anywhere near the hassle at schipohl. A lot of people I know are doing exactly the same for trips to Europe, so it is not just the US losing tourist revenue either.

 

Nogvmt - I have heard that US immigration is often chary of people who have green cards for long periods of time without taking on US citizenship, even heard of a guy who got 'deported' to a country he had not lived in since childhood , about 20 years previous, because he had never became a citizen. You do realize immigration has the right to refuse entry to a green card holder if they are suspicious of circumstances? How come your mom never took dual citizenship? If this happens every single she travels surely it is worth it just to prevent the hassle???

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I don't bother with the US for holidays anymore. May just be me but being finger printed and retina scanned isn't on my list of must do's for my hols:)

 

This year I didn't even want the hassle of looking at the volcano ash situation and so have chosen a cruise from the UK.

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I don't bother with the US for holidays anymore. May just be me but being finger printed and retina scanned isn't on my list of must do's for my hols:)

 

Part of the reason some of us are avoiding the UK too!! Yes, just been there on business last month and went through fingerprinting, photographing etc... despite having so many trips to the UK in my passport/s I can't even count them. Needless to say for the past couple of years that has dwindled to business only trips and not leisure...

 

I can see more and more people staying "home for the holidays". For those of us who live in what other people consider exotic destinations though it's a case of find the least hassle. I have to be honest: I have rarely found Heathrow more welcoming than the US, even with all the heightened security. The only time I had a pleasant experience entering the UK was via Newcastle!

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One word for US immigration "horrendous". Miami Airport being the worst. I have waited for over 2 hours, then have been dealt with by some of the rudest people I have ever met. They bark orders at you and never have any manners when they are asking for your finger prints and photos etc.

 

I really wish I could avoid the US but unfortunately I choose to go on cruises that leave from there. So I guess I just have to smile and deal with the rudeness!!:D

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When we asked an equally irate American citizen why his country was behaving in such a hostile manner towards tourists who's identity and itinerary have been known to them for months, he replied, "Because they can". That said it all.

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Completely agree with the comments about Heathrow! I do a lot of travel in the UK and try and avoid it too.

 

My only problem is that I love to see new places especially sunny ones and every so often am forced see those lovely security folks...

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Nogvmnt - How come your mom never took dual citizenship? If this happens every single she travels surely it is worth it just to prevent the hassle???

 

You are assuming having dual citizenship would stop the problem, it wouldn't.

 

It is my understanding that she would have to denounce her German citizenship in order to obtain American citizenship.

 

Besides, it took 35 years for her relatives in Germany to forgive her for marrying an American, I can imagine what would happen if she denounced her German citizenship and became an American (in their minds).

 

 

Jim

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I realize that you asked for experiences and feedback from ex-US travellers, but I just wanted to respond to this thread with my thoughts. I'm a US citizen and have been travelling outside the US since older childhood (e.g., since the late 1970s).

 

I have read all the furore about recent issues with security procedures, long lines, etc with a little amusement -- I don't really think things have changed all that much over the years of my travel, despite the protestations of others.

 

Flying overseas to and from the US, at least for THIS citizen, has often not gone according to plan for one reason or another. My family and I were headed overseas in 1981 when the major air traffic controllers strike occurred. We ended up sleeping in chairs in JFK airport. No one offered to put us up in a hotel or give us any meal vouchers. On another flight overseas in that same era, we again experienced delays of at least a day due to the grounding of the L-1011 Tri-star planes for some safety concern.

 

In the mid-1980s, returning from a trip to Asia with my parents, I was the recipient of a partial strip-search by Thai officials leaving the country. Granted drug trafficking was big at that time and I was in my early 20s; I think the situation could have been a whole lot worse had I not been with my parents who were expressing outrage and concern the entire time.

 

In the late 1980s, returning to the US with my then-husband out of Heathrow, my DH (never one to suffer fools gladly) was out of sorts after having waited in line for about 90 minutes to check in. He made some witty but pointed remark to the gate agent, who then flagged DH's card causing them to hassle both of us at security (our suitcases opened and searched, our carry on was too large, etc, etc).

 

In the 1990s, I recall being reduced to tears at Charles de Gaulle airport upon arrival, where passport control and associated procedures took well over 3 hours and the staff were the rudest I have EVER encountered, meeting even the most pleasant question with a snarl.

 

In 2005, departing Copenhagen after a Princess cruise, my son and I were politely but determinedly detained while all of our bags were thoroughly searched -- not once but twice. And another long security line at the gate as well. However, they were the nicest, while still being authoritative. All other airports could take a page from their book.

 

In 2007, I was taken aside and "questioned" in minute detail about my travel (past as well as present plans) after arriving CDG from Spain. Apparently they were not happy about the Egyptian stamp in my passport -- am I the only traveler through that airport to have visited Egypt? I think not.

 

Earlier this year, I was profiled when flying to Israel and back. They talk to all passengers initially, but I got the pleasure of being passed on for even more intense questioning, some of which was a bit offensive: Why was I traveling alone? Where was my husband? etc. Coming back home to the US through Ben Gurion airport, I received similar questioning, and of course aggressive bag screening. The testers even poked a hole in the bag of sea salts from the Dead Sea (unopened and purchased in kibbutz, I might add) and tested them in order to ascertain that I wasn't boarding with some dread chemical weapon.

 

At any rate, didn't mean to rattle on so long (so I'll leave out my experience arriving at Tokyo's Naritsa airport in the midst of the Swine Flu epidemic), but it seems to me that travellers through the years have just had to take these things in stride and realize that this is a small price to pay for the opportunity to travel and experience new things. (Some new things just aren't the positive experience we'd envisioned.....:rolleyes:).

 

Perhaps part of the issue for non-US travelers is that in the past things have been relatively easier traveling into and out of the US, and now they have changed. At the same time, travel within the EU has become smoother. So I'm sure the US suffers in comparison.

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We (Aussies) experienced a 4hr queue on the Star earlier this year when we reached our first US port (St Thomas) Luckily we had no excursion planned and got off the ship around noon for some great shopping at the port there.

I think you just have to factor this immigation hold-up into your shore plans and be prepared to wait in line.

Most of us on the next cruise will be Aussies (Sydney-Hawaii-Tahiti-Sydney) so unless Hawaii is computerised, it will be a very long wait.

 

Does anyone know if it is computerised ?

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This post is mainly for UK correspondents, I would be interested to hear of similar experiences, as many UK passengers are saying they will not travel to the USA again because of it.

On a UK Cruise site there is a massive debate going on concerning US Homeland Security, and the time it takes for UK passengers to clear immigration at US ports. On our arrival in San Francisco on Sea Princess after our recent trans Panama Cruise, the queues for immigratation for NON US citizens, went from the stage of the Vista Lounge at the stern around of the ship around all the rows of seats back through and around the atrium and along all the rows of seats in the theatre at the bow of the ship. It was explained that US Immigration was not computerised in San Francisco. People arriving for clearance at 0830 were getting cleared by 1200hrs. Passengers were also informed that even when cleared you could not go ashore until the last passenger had cleared. Eventually they had to give up on that or there would have been a mutiny. Quit a few people missed flights because of this. It appears now that this sort of treatment is the norm and NOT the exception. For example it took P anO Ventura almost 24 hours to clear immigration recently at Miami.. The problem appears to be mainly on ships where the majority of passengers are UK citizens.

US immigration really need to be told, in no uncertain terms that whilst we realise in this day and age that security is of prime importance, that holding up many middle aged and aging non US citizens is doing the tourist economy serious damage. They could easily cut down the numbers by profiling and percentage checks. They carry out thorough checks through the Visa Waiver programme anyway!!

 

Hi Michael & Elisabeth,

Glad to see you're still cruising the world.

 

The problem you noted is not unique for Brits. My step-mother was born in what is now Rosh Pinna, Israel prior to 1948 when the State of Israel was formed. The family emigrated to Australia and as a young teen the family came back to North America with her parents when she got her US citizenship (we're talking 1950s here). She has lived in the US and been a US citizen for almost 75 years.

 

STORY - She and her new hubbie (after dad passed away) went down to Nogales, Mexico for the day to get some dental work done. Well upon returning to Nogales, New Mexico, USA after what they thought would be a relaxing day acrooss the line, Homeland Security noted that in her US...YES!!!...US passport, that the place of birth was Rosh Pinna, Palestine (the name of what is now Israel prior to statehood). Well there was utter panic in the border crossing office as it appeared that the then 75 year old US citizen might be the biggest threat to national security since the Confederates rose against the Union.

 

She was separated from her husband, physically searched and interrogated/grilled for over 7 hours about her past and why she was in Mexico and why she had come to the US etc etc. :mad:

 

Needless to say the jackasses at Homeland Security were so caught up in the "according to the book" way of doing things rather than common sense that it almost made her want to relinquish her US citizenship, and she was detained and spent 7 hours in Homeland Security custody without any expalanation or apology.

 

Give someone a little bit of power, all common sense goes down the tubes and that power goes to their heads.

 

...and so is the logical way that US Homeland Security works :rolleyes:

 

Ciao for now!!!

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This post is mainly for UK correspondents, I would be interested to hear of similar experiences, as many UK passengers are saying they will not travel to the USA again because of it.

On a UK Cruise site there is a massive debate going on concerning US Homeland Security, and the time it takes for UK passengers to clear immigration at US ports. On our arrival in San Francisco on Sea Princess after our recent trans Panama Cruise, the queues for immigratation for NON US citizens, went from the stage of the Vista Lounge at the stern around of the ship around all the rows of seats back through and around the atrium and along all the rows of seats in the theatre at the bow of the ship. It was explained that US Immigration was not computerised in San Francisco. People arriving for clearance at 0830 were getting cleared by 1200hrs. Passengers were also informed that even when cleared you could not go ashore until the last passenger had cleared. Eventually they had to give up on that or there would have been a mutiny. Quit a few people missed flights because of this. It appears now that this sort of treatment is the norm and NOT the exception. For example it took P anO Ventura almost 24 hours to clear immigration recently at Miami.. The problem appears to be mainly on ships where the majority of passengers are UK citizens.

US immigration really need to be told, in no uncertain terms that whilst we realise in this day and age that security is of prime importance, that holding up many middle aged and aging non US citizens is doing the tourist economy serious damage. They could easily cut down the numbers by profiling and percentage checks. They carry out thorough checks through the Visa Waiver programme anyway!!

 

Am I getting this wrong? Was this the first time you had gone into the US this visit? I am asuming you entered by sea rather than by air. I would hate to think that we had to go through this rigmarole every time we got off the ship!!!

We are just back from holday in the US (driving rather than cruising this time) and flew into New York and couldn't believe how short the queue was (been many times with long queues) it was so easy, no problems, we then had 2 internal flights with barely a look at our passports. So we thought they were really getting their act together at last.

So, please tell me you cruised in, rather than flew in :confused:

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Hi Michael & Elisabeth,

Glad to see you're still cruising the world.

 

The problem you noted is not unique for Brits. My step-mother was born in what is now Rosh Pinna, Israel prior to 1948 when the State of Israel was formed. The family emigrated to Australia and as a young teen the family came back to North America with her parents when she got her US citizenship (we're talking 1950s here). She has lived in the US and been a US citizen for almost 75 years.

 

STORY - She and her new hubbie (after dad passed away) went down to Nogales, Mexico for the day to get some dental work done. Well upon returning to Nogales, New Mexico, USA after what they thought would be a relaxing day acrooss the line, Homeland Security noted that in her US...YES!!!...US passport, that the place of birth was Rosh Pinna, Palestine (the name of what is now Israel prior to statehood). Well there was utter panic in the border crossing office as it appeared that the then 75 year old US citizen might be the biggest threat to national security since the Confederates rose against the Union.

 

She was separated from her husband, physically searched and interrogated/grilled for over 7 hours about her past and why she was in Mexico and why she had come to the US etc etc. :mad:

 

Needless to say the jackasses at Homeland Security were so caught up in the "according to the book" way of doing things rather than common sense that it almost made her want to relinquish her US citizenship, and she was detained and spent 7 hours in Homeland Security custody without any expalanation or apology.

 

Give someone a little bit of power, all common sense goes down the tubes and that power goes to their heads.

 

...and so is the logical way that US Homeland Security works :rolleyes:

 

Ciao for now!!!

 

Our Homeland Security are cloned drones and exercise no common sense. :mad::mad::mad:

 

It's a joke!! Just do a Google search to see some of their ridiculous exploits involving small children and older Americans. Given an alternative, I would never fly, but unfortunately not flying is not an option.

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What about our next 2 US Ports, Fort Lauderdale and San Pedro ? Computorised?

 

Lengthy delays fo us Aliens ?

 

Yes we have our ESTA travel authority under Visa Waiver Programme.

 

By the way we have visited USA since 9/11. I would not say US Border Security/Customs/Immigration were rude at all, just efficient and effective, and so they should be. My advice, never argue with such officials, they will win, always. Part of travel these days, just grin and bear it. What's the rush anyway, you are supposed to be on vacation. Well in our case we are retired, so we are on permanent vacation.LOL.

 

Happy travels everybody, above all..ENJOY !

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Its very sad. Even Canadians who are spared SOME of the hassle, have taken to avoiding travel in and out of the US as much as possible. I hate to think what its costing in lost tourist revenue.

 

While the security may be necessary, being treated like a criminal by people who are drunk with power is not.

 

 

US citizens are also treated as criminals by TSA.

 

You are just getting equal treatment.

 

(Best way to get stuff through a TSA inspection: Just put a bottle of water in your carryon. They will be so excited about discovering the bottle of water they will overlook anything else in your carryon. Their main goal is to keep the skies safe from water.)

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US citizens are also treated as criminals by TSA.

 

You are just getting equal treatment.

 

(Best way to get stuff through a TSA inspection: Just put a bottle of water in your carryon. They will be so excited about discovering the bottle of water they will overlook anything else in your carryon. Their main goal is to keep the skies safe from water.)

 

Actually I have often found US immigration and security officials to be courteous and this post reminded me of an incident a few years ago, where unbeknown to us my DD, then about 4 years old, had put a squishy toy containing liquid in her bag. For some reason it tested positive for a nitroglycerin swipe. The security official could see it had been a genuine mistake and this poor little girl was upset at losing her toy, and called her supervisor to see if an exception could be made. The supervisor was very apologetic when telling us they could not let it through, but they really did try and I was impressed with that. This was flying out of Newark.

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These folks are just doing their job and trying to do the best they can at it. Imagine how aggravating it would be to have person after person give you a hard time. Certain ports of entry in the US are far worse than others. Miami in particular whether by land or sea is overburdened. THey are also overcautious because they have major drug and "illegals" issues there.

 

Go with patience. You're not being single-out as a UK citizen. Don't whine or harass the officers. That is not going to get you better treatment (not unlike talking about bombs while waiting to go through security).

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