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Old May 27th, 2018, 05:07 PM
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Angry Was denied on-board for CUBA

Here is my story. I got on vacationstogo.com and wanted to take my family on a trip 2 adults and 5 kids. We found a trip 5 night from Miami to Key West, Cuba, and Cozumel with Royal Caribbean International May 26-May 31 2018.
I am a Gold member with Royal Caribbean. I have traveled on other ships too for a total of 19 cruises.
When I talked to vacationstogo they told me that if my kids did not want to get off the ship in Cuba that we would not need a passport. However I ended up booking directly with Royal Caribbean. That was in April. In May they sent me an email saying our trip was around the corner and I noticed 2 of my kids names were spelled wrong. I then called into Royal Caribbean and spoke with a lady there and got the names changed. I then told her. My kids do not have passports and online it will not let me register for the ship. She said that is fine all you need to do it go to the counter when they give you your boarding card and show them the birth certificates since you will be leaving the US and coming back to the US. So that is what we did.
As I am typing this we are supposed to enjoying our trip. They denied us access to the ship. I was told that they have let other passengers board with this same reason however the ship director was informed not to let anyone on without passports this week. We waited 5 hours to hear this information. And now we have crying kids that were so excited for this trip. We also had just drove 14 hours from Nashville to Miami. And now have to make our drive back home since we dont have any other reservations or plans to stay in Miami.
I have been on the phone with Royal Caribbean for hours and they all say that they can only refund the taxes and port fees. I dont want a full refund I just want to be able to apply what we have paid to another cruise. They are still saying no. What should I do?
If they dont I would also like advise on putting a claim with my credit card company since I paid for a service that was not provided. What is the best practice there? Please help me navigate through this tragic time. Thanks!
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Old May 27th, 2018, 07:08 PM
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This is one of the major reasons why you NEVER want to book with an online site, especially one like VTG, or directly with the cruise line. You always want to book with a reputable agent, preferably a cruise specialist, to insure you get all the correct and most current information. Reason being is that when you call the cruise line or an online site, you're talking to someone who is just there to sell you something, not to provide service. They're not certified travel agents, they've never been on a cruise, and they've never been to any of the ports.

Unfortunately, you got bad information from both of these irresponsible sources and the end result was terrible for you and your family. And, I'm sorry to say, it's not unusual.

After having done this for 16 years, I can tell you from first hand experience that you never want to take anyone's comments about something so important (not even me!). You should always double check the information through reputable sources. I know you thought that's what you were doing, but the sales people work in a call center and just want to take your money, then get on to the next person. While they are not supposed to provide information like this, they do it without thinking about the consequences.

One of the problems in your situation is that cruising to Cuba is relatively new. It has also been an up and down problem caused by the indecisions of Trump. Because of this confusion, the cruise industry was especially cautious in making long term plans. This further exacerbated the problems and many people involved in the industry weren't sure of the current requirements. Not trying to make excuses, but just trying to show how important it is to stay on top of the requirements and do your own due diligence beforehand, as things change all the time.

Okay, with all that said, the normal requirements of cruising in the Caribbean do not require passports on a closed loop cruise. That is defined as leaving out of and returning to the same U.S. port while visiting 'most' countries in the Caribbean. If you do not have a passport, then you need an original birth certificate (not a copy) and government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license. Obviously, the photo ID part does not apply to under aged childred traveling with their parents. If you're using a passport, the requirement is always the same in that it cannot expire less than 6 months prior to the end of your trip.

However, Cuba requires you to present a passport, as well as a visa, when entering their country.

You can read the specific information on the RCCL website;

https://www.royalcaribbean.com/faq/q...t-requirements

Now that you've encountered the problem and you don't have an agent working on your behalf, you're on your own. As you've probably already done, contact the RCCL corporate office - and no, don't talk to a reservation representative. If they are unwilling to provide you credit towards another cruise, then I would suggest trying what you've already alluded to and that's see if your credit card company can assist you.

I'm not trying to paint a dismal picture, but keep in mind that RCCL is likely to point out what it says in their contract that you agreed to about you being responsible for insuring you have all the requirement documents. I understand the reservation rep gave you bad information and they should accept responsibility for that. But in the end, it is ultimately your responsibility. So, it's quite possible, if they're not willing to assist you, that they may provide that documentation to your credit card company, who could very well deny the claim. I've seen it happen, so I didn't want you to get your hopes up.

Hopefully, all will work out well for you and this is all a moot point, but perhaps this is a learning experience not only for you, but for others who may read this post.

I'm just really sorry that both Vacations to Go and RCCL representatives gave you bad information that created such a bad experience for you.

Pete
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Old May 27th, 2018, 09:01 PM
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Sorry to hear that you had trouble with your family vacation. While I agree with SBC about VTG you have to be careful about online travel sites. They typically are not very educated about travel or cruises. I am also a TA, STC and cruise specialist. I encourage ALL of my clients to educate themselves about the vacation they are interested in then when they come to me we are talking apples to apples. As far as cruises go if any of my clients want to book directly with the cruise line I NEVER tell them not to because sometimes they transfer it to me. This happens more time then you might think and that's fine. Cruiselines do have policies that they must abide by but as some might lead you to believe, the cruiseline is not out to just take your money and not give you any satisfaction. Not true. Many of my clients are very savvy and deal direct and I don't mind being an adviser when they do. Do your homework, look into different travel sites, educate yourself. That is the best advise your TA can give you. As it was stated, "you never want to take anyone's comments about something so important". Do your homework then if you need to, then contact your TA.
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Old May 31st, 2018, 10:37 AM
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I agree with what Pete said!! Never, ever trust anyone but your own research. We had a trip to China in 2017. We had our visas and everything all done. When we got our documents from the cruise company, the booklet stated that we did NOT need visas for our trip. I called them, as I was not happy that I went through the hassle and cost of getting said visas.

The cruise company told us we definitely needed visas. They wanted me to email them a copy of the page from our booklet showing the statement that visas were NOT required so they could correct the problem on their end. VISAS ARE REQUIRED FOR CHINA!

We were fortunate that we had a wonderful travel agent that assisted us with the correct information (along with some of my own research). We were granted a wonderful upgrade on the cruise portion of our China trip because someone was not diligent in their research and did not have proper paperwork for the China trip. Their oops was our reward! However, I felt for them, as they missed a great trip!
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