A passport is the best cruise ship travel documentation, and in fact general documentation, that one can have. The story of the Giannasca family is the perfect illustration of why to travel with a passport is preferred, and one should not rely only on the advice of the cruise line’s travel representatives.
Antonia Giannasca and her family decided to take a cruise to Mexico to celebrate her mother’s 71st birthday. Giannasca was told to bring a naturalization form and ID for her her mom, a naturalized citizen from Italy. She was also told the acceptable documentation to bring for the rest of the family.
When the family arrived at the port, the Carnival agent told them there was a problem. The agent informed them that the mother’s naturalization form would need an official raised seal, or the family would not be able to board the ship. Though the family protested, the mom was refused entry to the ship. The family was offered an opportunity to seek the required documentation, and pick up with the cruise in Key West, Florida – for an extra $1500 charge. They declined.
Carnival cited that it is their policy that the passenger is responsible to bring proper documentation in order to board the cruise ship. The company basically asserts that, even if their representative had given the family incomplete information, it remains the passenger’s responsibility to being proper documentation. The family was denied all refunds, and vouchers for future cruising.
Obviously Carnival dropped that ball on this one. It is truly unfair the way they treated the Giannasca family. But, let this be a cautionary tale for the rest of us. Seek a U.S. passport before traveling out of the country. Deny companies like Carnival Cruise Lines the opportunity to bilk you out of your money.