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US Homeland Immigration


MandE-UK

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Hmmmm looks like this is a problem here for the US... We recently had similair problems on the Sun Princess (cherryblossom cruise) while going to Saipan and Guam.....The que was 2000 people long...(throw in a lot of sick/recovering from the flu)...

We heard after that the captain took the offiacials onboard and had lunch with them, then told them if they do not get there act together the ship will never be coming back!!!

It certainly does cut into your time on the islands and was a disapointment to us...Hmmm now I do hope we do not have a long wait for our first USA trip/cruises.

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Keep in mind that a large number of passengers can overwhelm a small crew. DW and I were delayed long enough at the airport in Montreal to miss our train to Quebec City last year. Apparently more international flights came in than were anticipated (???). They only had 3 out of the 11 passports screening stations open. There were over a thousand people in line, so it wasn't pretty.

 

It happens. But, I won't judge Canadian Immigration on one bad experience.

 

I would say that either they did a rather poor job on scheduling people for that particular day or several employees called in sick. That or they need to hire more employees.

 

Flights are usually scheduled way ahead of time. So they know ahead of time how much volume they will have. This goes for the US as well. There are some exceptions, flight diversions due to weather, medical, mechanical or security reasons.

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We came ashore at New York a couple of years ago on the Queen Mary and the whole process took about three hours. Even passengers who didn't want to leave the ship had to get off, go through immigration and re-board. The scheduled trips to Manhattan were so shortened that we had about half an hour before returning to the ship. Later Cunard refunded the trip price.

 

The problem was totally due to the staffing level as only about a quarter of the lines were staffed. The only good thing was that the officer dealing with us had a really good attitude and was joking with us as we went through which did put us in a better frame of mind. We carried on to Canada and then back to NY and had to go through the whole process again but this time it was much quicker.

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The latest is the sad case of a wheelchair bound, leukemia stricken, 95 year old woman whose diaper was removed in a security check. Personally, I've never had a problem with HS and I am a very, very frequent traveler, but I notice how grey haired caucasians such as I seem to get frequent checks while others who look more suspicious fly though the lines. This had also been noted by a US congressman recently. To no avail, I'm sure, as we certainly don't want to hurt the tender sensibilities of certain groups. Change has to be coming in the next few years, or surely we are lost.

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Last year we decided to fly to FLL via Atlanta from Manchester in the UK, getting through Atlanta was one hell of a lot faster than Miami had been the previous 2 years! although at the RCI check in desk in FLL we were asked for a copy of our ESTA papers? anyone esle had to do that ? the reason for going via Atlanta was to avoid the horrible place that is Heathrow where we had problems 2 yeas running returning to Manchester and would never go through there ever again not even if Heathrow paid for it. Go and try to make a complaint at their desk which has a Big sign which says " here to help" yeah right totaly empty waste of space.

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I have a question.

 

I have booked a cruise in October, round trip from Los Angeles. Ports of call are 4 Hawaiian islands and American Samoa, before going on to French Polynesia.

 

Clearly I will experience immigration and customs after flying into LA.

 

Please tell me that I will not have to do this 5 more times, and a 6th time on return to LA? :(:(:(

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Hmmmmm.....travel to or from the US...done it once and won't be hurrying back to do it again. Not cos of long queues or surly, power crazy immigration people...but cos I don't happen to want to cruise from the US cos there are no itineraries/ships that actually appeal to me from there.

 

The one time I flew to/from the US was in 2008 and quite frankly it was more a case of 'what security' than too much of it. Granted flying into Houston 4 days after a hurricane hit the city is bound to have an effect, but that should not be an excuse for no security whatsoever.

 

I flew with KLM from Manchester via Amsterdam & vice versa, security was tight at Manchester & Amsterdam as always...but arriving in Houston it was a cursory passport check, no fingerprints, iris scans etc...infact staff at the airport were more bothered at my lack of checked bags than anything else, they couldn't quite get their heads around the fact that I did not require a trolley load of suitcases for my 4 day stay, just a simple holdall carry-on was more than sufficient.

 

Flying home the security (or the lack thereof) was blindingly idiotic. I travelled to the intercontinental terminal on the airport shuttlebus, got off...with my carry-on holdall...walked into the departure/check in area. Since I had checked in for my flight at the hotel, I made my way to the departure lounge....large doorway, big metal detector thingy...NO STAFF...waited, waited, waited around 30 minutes...STILL NO STAFF...oh sod this, I walked through metal detector thingy, wasn't even switched on...up the escalator and into the departure lounge area, hunted down my gate and sat waiting for the flight to be called to board....about 90 minutes later the doors to the airbridge opened and the cabin crew called us to board...STILL NO AIRPORT STAFF...we all looked at each other, shrugged shoulders and duly walked onto the plane and within 45 minutes we had closed the doors and were being pushed back off the stand and within another 45 minutes we were climbing out over Galveston and on our way to Amsterdam.

 

Next morning at Amsterdam and later at Manchester, it was back to normal security...bags x-rayed, passports checked, body scanned etc.

 

So much for US airport security...I would like to hope/assume that my experience was not the norm...butwho knows...it might be, I am not about to find out anytime soon.

 

As for Heathrow & Gatwick (and British Airways)...my file at Costa has a note on it...DO NOT PUT THIS PASSENGER ON BA, FLYING VIA LHR/LGW UNLESS ABSOLUTELY, UTTERLY & TOTALLY UNAVOIDABLE... Manchester is my airport gateway of choice, Air France, KLM, Emirates, Lufthansa & Virgin are my first choice of airline.

 

BA = Bl**dy Awful

 

LHR/LGW = could not organise a drinking session in a brewery, both are filthy, both have no idea what customer service is and both are chaotic, disorganised and just patheticly undermanned & under funded.

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Heck I must be lucky when it comes to flying back and fro from the US & LHR etc....never had a problem with security (touch wood).

 

Flown with AA & BA..and through various large US airports.

 

I have everything packed as it should be...paperwork all ready and correct...lables all in and on baggage...laptop/netbook...out of bag in hand as I go through security...jacket/cardigan off...shoes off...no metal in pockets etc etc.

 

We know as UK Citizens what to expect with fingerprinting and photos..we know what to say or not to say..yes/no etc ..no trying to be friendly etc..just answer the questions in a polite manner.

 

The only airport I am always called by security...is my local one -Inverness...every single time I have flown from there..be it just to Glasgow or London or wherever....I am called to their office for them to check one of my suitcases...every darn time...no idea why. It has become a big of a laugh now with the staff there as all my stuff in my suitcase is always neatly packed in baggies(ziplocks)..so I am the baggie lady :o:D

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When I approached the desk on our last visit to the US with a smile and a cheery hello I got screamed at to be quiet and then told to go and stand behind the line again like a naughty child. I will take my money else where in future

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When I approached the desk on our last visit to the US with a smile and a cheery hello I got screamed at to be quiet and then told to go and stand behind the line again like a naughty child. I will take my money else where in future

We've had more good experiences than not, but why we won't cruise from the States again is similar to Elaine's story- I'm not used to being shouted at!

Jo.

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we usually cruise the Med, Baltics, Canaries etc flying from Glasgow usually via Amsterdam or London. we have never had any problems with customs other than long but steadily moving queues, but this Dec we are going on our first Caribbean cruise. we fly Glasgow to Heathrow to Miami :eek: after reading all these posts I am not looking forward to it. I will not be telling hubbie about the possible delays or the grumpy old customs untill it happens. he ain't a patient man. :rolleyes:

 

I deff won't be telling him that as at least one of the ports we are going to is classed as Americian and we will be waiting again in long queues. :) I can look innocent when I have to. ;)

 

I better not wear any Tena ladies this Dec!!! LOL :D

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we fly Glasgow to Heathrow to Miami :eek: after reading all these posts I am not looking forward to it. I will not be telling hubbie about the possible delays or the grumpy old customs untill it happens. he ain't a patient man.

 

 

Don't worry! DW and I have done Edinburgh to Heathrow to Miami a few times lately without much problem ;)

The good news is immigration is fine with plenty of lines open most of the time.

The bad news is clearing customs is the bigger issue with everyone trying to feed through a single exit door :eek:

Enjoy your trip :p

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Based on my visits to the US over the last few years, I think that the main issue is the lack of staff at the main points of entry to the US. Certainly when I was on Azura at Christmas, the port didn't have enough immigration staff available. It was also made worse by the arrival of one of the new ????? of the Seas being in port. Also, being on a P&O ship/company which rarely used that port, to a certain extent, I can see why less attention was given to Azura.

 

Looking on the plus side, the charge that has been introduced for the ESTA may help fund some extra staff. Even if the fee isn't intended for this, it is extra income for Homeland Security. I have to hope that this will be the case as I'll be visiting the US on cruises in the next couple of years.

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I earnestly regret how our immigration/customs officials are treating you, our closest friends and allies in the international community. Shameful, but typical of the xenophobia rampant over here.

 

As frequent visitors to the UK, I will say that we have NEVER been met with anything but courtesy and often a smile from British customs officials at your airports. I cannot say the same for our own US personnel on our returns. I still remember flying home from a month in the UK with souvenirs for our new niece, including a Paddington Bear. When we reached US Customs, were were pulled aside and asked to open our suitcases. This was pre Sept. 11, but my shaggy hair and well-trimmed beard must have said Baader Meinhof Gang to them. Our suitcases were thoroughly searched, and when they found poor Paddington with his luggage tag that said "Darkest Peru", the clever agent went back to our passports and said, "So when were you in Peru? Your passports don't show Peru!!!! Why is this???"

 

I shudder to think what would have happened had this occurred more recently!

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Don't worry! DW and I have done Edinburgh to Heathrow to Miami a few times lately without much problem ;)

The good news is immigration is fine with plenty of lines open most of the time.

The bad news is clearing customs is the bigger issue with everyone trying to feed through a single exit door :eek:

Enjoy your trip :p

 

 

thanks for that C U. I just hope we will have as little problems as you. :D

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Saruman I hope they didn't strip search Paddy bear! :eek: :D

 

seriously though did they think Paddy bear really came from Peru?????? :confused: :confused: :confused:

 

Sadly, she was dead serious. My wife and I patiently told her the basics of the Paddington story, that the CHARACTER IN THE BOOK came from Peru, NOT the toy!!! At some point we convinced her, I suppose, or she just gave up and continued her search through our bags. Not finding drugs, diamonds or Panzer tanks in among our dirty clothes and souvenirs, she waved us on. Paddington, his modesty still intact, returned to his place in the bag and continued his journey on to a happy two year old.:)

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Saruman .... some people have no sense of humour! .... :D good job you didnt try the "He`s not coming out, he`s been a very nughty boy" sketch on her from Monty Pythons life of Brian LOL.

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  • 7 months later...
Hmmmm looks like this is a problem here for the US... We recently had similair problems on the Sun Princess (cherryblossom cruise) while going to Saipan and Guam.....The que was 2000 people long...(throw in a lot of sick/recovering from the flu)...

We heard after that the captain took the offiacials onboard and had lunch with them, then told them if they do not get there act together the ship will never be coming back!!!

It certainly does cut into your time on the islands and was a disapointment to us...Hmmm now I do hope we do not have a long wait for our first USA trip/cruises.

Hi Mummyrose, We are off to Guam (only US port we are visiting) on the Cherry Blossom cruise with Princess this March. As an Aussie citizen, I was wondering if you organised your own visa waiver through ESTA before you left, or was it organised onboard after departure??

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Hi Mummyrose, We are off to Guam (only US port we are visiting) on the Cherry Blossom cruise with Princess this March. As an Aussie citizen, I was wondering if you organised your own visa waiver through ESTA before you left, or was it organised onboard after departure??

 

I don't know for Aussie's, but for us from the UK, it's pretty simple to do online at home, it lasts for two years and currently costs approx £14.

 

Whatever you do, don't use an agent. They will charge you an inflated fee. The only link you need to use is the one below, which takes you directly to the ESTA website.

 

https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

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thanks Newport Dave. we have decided best to just get them through the site you recommended even though other passengers have decided not to. It was just strange that Princess did not mention anything about getting the waiver for Guam in their email when advising us of what was required in the way of visas etc for our cruise...not sure where that leaves people who board without it!

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thanks Newport Dave. we have decided best to just get them through the site you recommended even though other passengers have decided not to. It was just strange that Princess did not mention anything about getting the waiver for Guam in their email when advising us of what was required in the way of visas etc for our cruise...not sure where that leaves people who board without it!

 

They will probably be not allowed to board the ship at embarkation, or not allowed to get off the ship in Guam. I would check with your nearest US embassy for clarification.

 

I'd rather payout the £14 and not need it, then pay out thousands on a holiday, then lose it because I hadn't bothered to get an ESTA.

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My brother in law and sister in law are on Sea Princess in March - Cherry Blossom Cruise, Sydney - Japan - Sydney. They did not know about ESTA visa for Guam, until I told them, as we had been there. Neither travel agent nor Princess advised them they needed one.

 

Indeed I fear, some pax will turn up for check in with out an ESTA visa. One would think they would be refused boarding.

 

Pays to do your own research or just ask on CC !

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