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HA is consciously engaging in highly unethical actions and disregards customer concer

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Holland America (HA) denied our embarkation in Seattle to the cruise to Alaska. This was not the once-in-a-lifetime experience we thought we paid for. My family and me had a horrendous experience after planning to cruise Alaska for years and flying several thousand miles to board the Holland American Cruise. This is was a most traumatizing experience for our child Andres. The unfortunate adventure of denied embarkation we suffered was due to lacking and misleading information HA supplies to customers. HA has taken every legal step to safeguard its financial interests in complying with national rulings of countries through which the cruise will travel. HA has also taken precautionary measures for any potential legal actions that customers might take for not receiving refunds for denied embarkations. However, HA has not made the same effort in communicating the relevant issues to vulnerable customers. HA's actions may be legal, but they are very unethical. A global international company doing business in a world were social media are becoming more important for business than judges, should take care not only to ensure that its actions are legal, but that they also ethical. The best companies aim to conform their actions to the highest ethical standards. HA has to make an effort to improve the quality of its communication with its customers. Customers expect to receive honest information from a reputed company. In the case of HA cruises, customers should receive reliable information about:

 

1- Countries for which the passenger will require approval to enter or transit. No such information is provided by HA.

 

 

2- Countries on the cruise that do not respect free transit for international travelers. No such information is provided by HA.

 

 

3- Correct information from e-mails send to the customer during the registration process. I received an e-mail telling me that my on-line registration was completed successfully on July 24th, 2015. The online registration included information about my passport and my visas, the same information HA asked me at at the moment of embarkation, but HA gave two radically different responses in the two occasions.

 

I estimate that the rate of denial of embarkation by HA is low but heterogeneous. That is, the likelihood that customers from North America or Europe are denied embarkation is probably very low. In contrast, denial of embarkation of customers from third world countries, according to information received from local staff, is quite significant. Thus, not all customers are treated equal. Business that exploit heterogeneity among national immigration laws are common. The most famous exploiters of this business are human traffickers in Asian Oceans and the Mediterranean See. I am surprised to learn that HA also has a sophisticated business practice in that respect. The following facts lead to this conclusion:

 

 

1- HA is discriminating against customers from thirds world counties. Many of these countries, however, receive cruise ships of HA but the company discriminates against citizens of these countries.

 

 

2- HA is much more likely to make money by charging for services it does not supply from third world passengers than from citizens of first world countries. A very similar policy is applied by smugglers of illegal immigrants in the Mediterranean whose business is to ship helpless and deeply vulnerable refuges to the European Union. HA is making itself liable to be jugged by the international community to be in the same moral league than the most hated villains in Europe.

 

 

3- My calculations show that HA is making more money from savings derived from embarkation denial than that made by shipping entrepreneurs smuggling human cargo in Europe, due to the magnitude of the business of HA.

 

 

4- Additionally, HA is providing a service that does not respect children rights and discriminates between children according to the country of origin. UNICEF states that children worldwide have special human rights that all countries and companies should care for, such as respectful and non-discriminatory treatment, easy access to leisure and recreation, avoidance of traumatic experiences, among others (see articles 2, 4, 25, 27, 29, 31, and 39 at: http://www.unicef.org/crc/).

 

 

The remedies to this mishap are very simple:

 

 

1- Indicate clearly in each cruise, the countries whose jurisdiction will apply for that specific cruise

 

 

2- Implement a simple algorithm in the software managing on line booking to check for the correct visa compliance for each passenger.

 

 

These recommendation were made to Orlando Ashford, President; Stein Kruse , Chief Executive Officer; and Lisa Keys, Special Advisor, Office of the President of HA. A total lack of response definitively demonstrate that HA has an active policy of investing much more in legal protection than in customer service, with a total disregard for the well being of vulnerable customers. It shows that HA is consciously engaging in highly unethical actions and disregards customer concerns and high moral standards in their business practice.

 

 

Klaus Jaffe

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I don't understand? Why were you denied embarkation? In what way did HAL mistreat you? What are the actual facts?

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What does your country of citizenship have to do with it? Securing the visas required by the US government, and to have the required documentation for any minor children, is solely the passenger's responsibility. You are an intelligent person who cites UNICEF references but we can't figure out exactly how this was supposedly violated.

 

What reason did HA give you for not being allowed to board? Without that we cannot know exactly what happened.

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The countries of all ports of call are clearly identified everywhere, from the promotional brochures and cruise atlases all the way to embarkation documents. When a cruise calls at Victoria, Canada (as every cruise to Alaska from Seattle does), a passenger cannot claim not to know that the cruise will go to Canada. So far, no unethical behavior.

 

Canada's requirement for foreign nationals who are not visa exempt to hold--at a minimum--a transit visa is very clearly set out on the website of Citizenship and Immigration Canada here. There is no such thing as "free transit for international travellers", the admission and transit of foreign nationals is always a matter of the domestic law of the receiving state. And HAL is not responsible for Canada's and the United States' immigration law. So still no unethical behavior.

 

The real legal question in my mind is, "is it reasonable for a passenger on a common carrier to rely upon the carrier to provide immigration advice for all countries through which the traveller will be carried?" In the absence of any other factors, the answer might well be in the affirmative. But since HAL very clearly transfers responsibility to the traveller to attend to these matters, it seems to me that the answer in the instant case is very likely, "No."

 

Finally, the Consulate General of Canada in Seattle (located at Sixth and Sixth) can provide temporary resident visa services to any third country national who has been lawfully admitted to the United States. Even a cursory attempt to be aware of and comply with Canadian law during the 48 hours prior to departure could have avoided this whole sorry tale.

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I agree that the worst part is accusing HAL of trading in human cargo. How insensitive, especially during this tragic time for so many people. Any sympathy I might have had for the OP vanished with that outrageous statement.

 

Mrs M

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On the other hand---while I agree with everyone that it is indeed the responsibility of each traveler to insure that documents are in order---how hard is it for a large travel company like CCL to have in place a computer program that checks for documentation when the person does online registration. We just had a thread wanting a computer program to show birthdays and anniversaries, It seems a no brainer that when a person enters nationality the registration asks for appropriate visa information before allowing the passenger to continue.

Obviously this is in place because we do occasionally hear complaints here and not just from this poster where people have been denied boarding at the pier.

While I am also suspicious of this particular post I think that in general this is a problem that has an easy fix. Not everyone is an experienced traveler, we need to remember that.

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Most of the posts in this thread have been removed because they are in direct contravention of the Cruise Critic guidelines to which you all agreed to adhere when you registered.

 

While there are legitimate questions that can be asked, there were way too many posts literally accusing the OP of prevarication. Personal attacks like that are totally unacceptable.

 

Quoting from our guidelines:

 

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Cruise Critic is committed to providing an online environment that is free from these types of harassing postings. Please, don't attack another poster or group of posters. Do not harass, threaten, embarrass, or do anything else to another member that is unwanted. This means: don't say bad things about them, don't keep sending them unwanted Instant Message notes, don't attack their race, heritage, or their sexual orientation, etc. If you disagree with someone, respond to the subject, not the person. Postings of this nature will be removed from the boards.

 

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We realize that in some instances, this happens naturally. However, it does appear to be intentional by certain members. Please be considerate of your fellow members; posting off topic within a discussion -- 'hijacking' -- is boring and only wastes everyone's time. Think twice and, for some of you, even three times before posting off topic in an existing discussion: not "thinking" may result in loss of your posting privileges on Cruise Critic.

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On the other hand---while I agree with everyone that it is indeed the responsibility of each traveler to insure that documents are in order---how hard is it for a large travel company like CCL to have in place a computer program that checks for documentation when the person does online registration. We just had a thread wanting a computer program to show birthdays and anniversaries, It seems a no brainer that when a person enters nationality the registration asks for appropriate visa information before allowing the passenger to continue.

Obviously this is in place because we do occasionally hear complaints here and not just from this poster where people have been denied boarding at the pier.

While I am also suspicious of this particular post I think that in general this is a problem that has an easy fix. Not everyone is an experienced traveler, we need to remember that.

 

In theory this sounds reasonable, but in practicality it is not. Birthdays and anniversaries don't normally change, but the visa requirements can and do change.

 

Its unrealistic to think that a computer program could accurately keep up with changes on a timely basis...what if a change occurs and it doesn't get updated right away? Or what if their servers go down and access is interrupted?

 

No, the smarter way is to put the responsibility directly on the shoulders of the passenger to obtain the right answers from the authorities themselves.

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Whatever type of holiday you choose, you are the person responsible to obtain the relevant visas or documentation. It is not the cruise line or tour operator's responsibility. Although I am not entirely sure why the OP was not allowed to embark.

 

A long post, which at the end of the day says nothing.

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In theory this sounds reasonable, but in practicality it is not. Birthdays and anniversaries don't normally change, but the visa requirements can and do change.

 

Its unrealistic to think that a computer program could accurately keep up with changes on a timely basis...what if a change occurs and it doesn't get updated right away? Or what if their servers go down and access is interrupted?

 

No, the smarter way is to put the responsibility directly on the shoulders of the passenger to obtain the right answers from the authorities themselves.

 

The cruise lines don't WANT to have such a program to advise everyone who registers on line they meet all travel document requirements. Were they to have such a thing, they would be held responsible if the traveler appears without all appropriate visas etc It is an accepted position in international travel the final responsibility falls to the traveler. Why would a cruise line want to put themselves at risk for providing wrong advice that is personalized to each cruiser?

 

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On the other hand---while I agree with everyone that it is indeed the responsibility of each traveler to insure that documents are in order---how hard is it for a large travel company like CCL to have in place a computer program that checks for documentation when the person does online registration. We just had a thread wanting a computer program to show birthdays and anniversaries, It seems a no brainer that when a person enters nationality the registration asks for appropriate visa information before allowing the passenger to continue.

Obviously this is in place because we do occasionally hear complaints here and not just from this poster where people have been denied boarding at the pier.

While I am also suspicious of this particular post I think that in general this is a problem that has an easy fix. Not everyone is an experienced traveler, we need to remember that.

There are 195 independent states, each with its individual entry requirements. Moreover, the entry requirements can vary significantly from person to person in country "A" wanting to enter country "B". The decisions on whether or not a person is admissible can be quite complex, and a cruise line does not have the information required to make that deliberation.

 

For example, a US citizen with a conviction for an indictable offence would not normally be granted entry into Canada. HAL obviously has no related information on its passengers, and isn't about to start collecting this or the hundreds of other pieces of information used to determine admissibility.

 

Bottom line is that it is very simple for passengers to acquire the necessary information and take the necessary steps to gain entry. The OP clearly didn't.

Edited by Fouremco

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This complaint has been dealt with in a previous thread - see the thread below.

 

all such complaints and issues were addressed at that time. Suggest you check it out.

 

Okie1946

 

Started by BetterToBeSmarter "Cruising Alaska with Holland America- the Biggest Trap Ever"

Edited by Okie1946

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Is this yet another example of a first-time poster with a long single post complaining about HAL?

 

Or will they return to answer any of the questions posed??

 

Cheers!

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The cruise lines don't WANT to have such a program to advise everyone who registers on line they meet all travel document requirements. Were they to have such a thing, they would be held responsible if the traveler appears without all appropriate visas etc It is an accepted position in international travel the final responsibility falls to the traveler. Why would a cruise line want to put themselves at risk for providing wrong advice that is personalized to each cruiser?

 

Sail7Seas answer makes perfect sense to me. I think the thousands of travelers that sail Holland America myself included every year without problem are proof the system works. I am however very sorry for and understand the frustration the OP must feel.

 

Michael

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It would be nice if HAL and other cruiselines would do the homework for us.

But because requirements for entry to different countries can change quickly and often, it would take too many man hours for that to happen.

If it's left to each individual, you only have to research the few countries where you will be travelling.

Much easier and for me the peace of mind is priceless.

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On the other hand---while I agree with everyone that it is indeed the responsibility of each traveler to insure that documents are in order---how hard is it for a large travel company like CCL to have in place a computer program that checks for documentation when the person does online registration. We just had a thread wanting a computer program to show birthdays and anniversaries, It seems a no brainer that when a person enters nationality the registration asks for appropriate visa information before allowing the passenger to continue.

Obviously this is in place because we do occasionally hear complaints here and not just from this poster where people have been denied boarding at the pier.

While I am also suspicious of this particular post I think that in general this is a problem that has an easy fix. Not everyone is an experienced traveler, we need to remember that.

It would be impossible to have an up-to-date computer program to check each persons visa requirements.. I worked in the Airline Industry & we had huge books which were constantly being updated on all the entry requirements & changes made by each country in the world! All we could do was tell the Passenger that it was his/her responsibility to see that he had the proper documentation prior to boarding..

 

As Fouremco mentioned there are 195 independent states (countries) & each one of these countries have individual entry requirements which can vary from person to person.. Many of these countries have complex laws which constantly change.. If my company carried a person into a country who did not have the proper documentation, we would be required to assign an armed guard to take the passenger into a hotel, pay for that hotel with all meals of both the guard & the Passenger & then take the Passenger on the next flight out of that country.. In addition we (the carrier) who permitted the passenger to travel had to pay a hefty fine..

 

There are 195 independent states, each with its individual entry requirements. Moreover, the entry requirements can vary significantly from person to person in country "A" wanting to enter country "B". The decisions on whether or not a person is admissible can be quite complex, and a cruise line does not have the information required to make that deliberation.

 

For example, a US citizen with a conviction for an indictable offence would not normally be granted entry into Canada. HAL obviously has no related information on its passengers, and isn't about to start collecting this or the hundreds of other pieces of information used to determine admissibility.

 

Bottom line is that it is very simple for passengers to acquire the necessary information and take the necessary steps to gain entry. The OP clearly didn't.

 

Completely agree it is the Passengers responsibility to have the required visas & all documents must be in order before he/she can be boarded!

Edited by serendipity1499

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I don't understand? Why were you denied embarkation? In what way did HAL mistreat you? What are the actual facts?

 

I agree with you! And we did hash this out with a post a week ago or so.

To me it is your sole responsibility to do your own homework especially traveling out of the country.

Denise:)

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This complaint has been dealt with in a previous thread - see the thread below.

 

all such complaints and issues were addressed at that time. Suggest you check it out.

 

Okie1946

 

Started by BetterToBeSmarter "Cruising Alaska with Holland America- the Biggest Trap Ever"

 

I was thinking the same thing. This sounds quite similar to the complaints in a previous thread.

 

I'm wondering if insurance would cover this situation.

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I was thinking the same thing. This sounds quite similar to the complaints in a previous thread.

 

I'm wondering if insurance would cover this situation.

 

Typically, insurance doesn't cover missing the cruise due to you not having the proper documents.

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By the Way the U.N. membership shows an increase in states

(countries) in the world to 206..

 

According to Wikipedia, Quote Membership within the United Nations system divides the 206 listed states into three categories: 193 member states, two observer states, and 11 other states. The sovereignty dispute column indicates states whose sovereignty is undisputed (190 states) and states whose sovereignty is disputed (16 states).unquote

 

Can you imagine trying to keep a program for all 206 states up to date..Then all the people who travel from those 206 states would have to be programed in if they travel into another state.. HAL would need to hire more people & need another department just to make the changes in the program../SIZE]

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You can find out what visas are needed by checking the list on the Holland America Website under the section "Booked Guest". There is a section on Visas.

 

Since the OP was in the United States and going to Alaska, I assume that he had the visa for the United States and thought that was all he needed. What a I think he might have been missing was the Canadian Visa as there is a possibility the OP is from Caracas, Venezula.

 

I would recommend that the OP check the website of any company he is traveling with in the future to see it it lists what visas are required, also with Travel Agent and he naturally should ask the question on Cruise Critic if he is cruising again.

 

I am sorry that you had such an unfortunate experience. And that you got tripped up by the port call in Canada. All of us have to check if visas are necessary for our cruise regardless of which company we cruise from. Holland America is just following the rules required by the US and Canada.

Edited by Storylady

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You can find out what visas are needed by checking the list on the Holland America Website under the section "Booked Guest". There is a section on Visas.

I hadn't visited this part of HAL's website for some time, as I use other sources for visa information, so I thought I'd take a look. It currently states for Canada:

 

Canadian visa requirements affecting all Alaska sailings, Alaska tours and Canada & New England sailings that enter Canada:

 

If you are a NON-U.S. or NON-CANADIAN citizen, you will be DENIED BOARDING without compensation if you do not hold the proper VISA documents! Regardless of what your Consulate official may advise, Canadian officials WILL NOT allow guests to remain onboard while in a Canadian port without proper documentation, so you will be denied boarding if the visa is not presented at the pier at the time of your scheduled cruise departure. To learn more, please visit:

 

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/index.asp

 

U.S. citizens are NOT required to obtain a Canadian Visa. To verify if your nationality requires a Canadian visa, please visit the following Canadian immigration website, which may be useful to determine what is required:

 

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp

 

Security and enforcement at the Canada-United States border has been heightened. For this reason, more U.S. and Canadian citizens with past criminal charges or convictions are refused entry into Canada. Almost all convictions (including DUI, DWI, reckless driving, negligent driving, misdemeanor drug possession, all felonies, domestic violence [assault IV], shoplifting, theft, etc.) make a person inadmissible to Canada, regardless of how long ago they occurred.

It is recommended that persons who have been charged in the past or who have past convictions obtain the necessary documents before attempting to enter Canada.

 

To learn more about applying for these documents we strongly recommend you visit the following website for details:

 

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/inadmissibility/index.asp

 

I don't know how HAL could be more explicit in explaining the visa requirements and the consequences of not meeting them. At a certain point, the individual traveller needs to take personal responsibility for undertaking due diligence when travelling.

 

As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

Edited by Fouremco

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In addition to the excellent points that have been posted about personal responsibility to research and obtain necessary visas... in the OP's case, there was a minor child involved, which can further complicate international travel documentation.

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So now I have a really dumb question about my first suggestion to have visa checks during online check-in. If it is so impossible for a company to know what is required when a person checks in on-line, then how do they have the information when the person is at the ship?

I'm not arguing that people should do their homework, just wondering how this works. It wouldn't have to be a legal problem if they didn't say "we're guaranteeing that you have everything needed to board" and included the disclaimed that you are responsible. It just seems that it would be a nice thing to do as they seek to attract a wider range of nationalities using their product.

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So now I have a really dumb question about my first suggestion to have visa checks during online check-in. If it is so impossible for a company to know what is required when a person checks in on-line, then how do they have the information when the person is at the ship?

I'm not arguing that people should do their homework, just wondering how this works. It wouldn't have to be a legal problem if they didn't say "we're guaranteeing that you have everything needed to board" and included the disclaimed that you are responsible. It just seems that it would be a nice thing to do as they seek to attract a wider range of nationalities using their product.

 

They could add another check-mark box to the online process. Something like "Have you checked that you have all the visas and other documentation you need." Or at some point in the process, have a box with big bold lettering "Please make sure that you have obtained all visas and other documentation you will need for your trip."

 

In the case of visas for Canada, it seems pretty simple. I think the rule is that US/Canadian citizens don't need a visa, everyone else does. But for other countries it's more complicated. The people checking you in for an Alaska cruise only need to know the rules for the US and Canada. But for HAL as a company to know all the rules of all the countries is an invitation for a slip-up.

 

I haven't flown to a country where I need a visa recently, so I'm not sure, but I don't think airlines give out visa information.

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