Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Customs and Immigration and Radiation

When disembarking the new Carnival Splendor yesterday, we had a very interesting experience. When we were giving in our customs declaration, another agent came over and asked us to step to the side.

As we had purchased nothing during this little 2 night cruise, I thought it was because I had "zero" on the form for purchases and they were checking this out. But that was not it.

The agent asked me if I recently had anything involving radiation? I mentioned that I had taken my Dad to the Dr. the other day and he had some x-rays and one of them was nuclear but not me. He showed me a little gadget on his belt that was glowing red. This gadget was actually a radiation detector and it was going off big time!

Well it actually turned out to be Helen who had a neclear stress test 5 days earlier and the stuff they inject for this test is radioactive which was still in her system and sending radiation signals out.

The man explained, and we are sharing it here, that anytime someone has anything done that involves radiation they should carry something to that effect - the paperwork from the testing lab is sufficient. He never did say how long that stuff stays in one's system. He went on to explain that without this someone could be "inconvienenced - his word" when coming back into the country especially for land border crossing, from a longer cruise or coming from many other countries (we only went to Nassau) or if security levels were higher. He was fine once he knew why his detector went off and we were on our way but it sure was an interesting experience and valuable information to pass along.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

E-docs and paper docs charge

I received an interesting e-mail this morning from someone who is not a client presently (maybe one day they will be) with a unique question. Here is the question and my reply:

Is it true that Royal Caribbean is only going to issue E docs and if you want the booklet, then you will be charged $35?

Good morning. Interesting question you ask. To the best of my knowledge, although things can change rapidly of late, Royal is using e-docs primarily as most of the cruise lines are and there is a charge (mostly $35) for “paper docs” depending on where they are sent to. But this charge is to agency, not customer (unless agency passes the charge along which many probably would and do – is that where your question comes from?).

With that being said, we actually have the materials for printing out the e-docs for our clients along with the luggage tags and creating the package to send out which is basically “paper docs” for Royal, Celebrity and Azamara. We will also print out the-docs for other lines for our clients if they request us to (we help many clients with their pre-cruise registration and mail the boarding pass to them when we do), especially those without computers or non seasoned cruisers. We of our own choosing do not charge any processing or shipping costs to our clients when we do this and in fact to not charge and processing fees period even if we don’t.

To go a step further, some cruise lines such as Princess and NCL have a pre-cruise package which they send out which includes the excursion booklet and luggage tags. We as agents have the option of having these go straight to client or coming to us first. We choose to have them come to us and then we send out with additional material in the package.

The main thing needed when getting to a port is the boarding pass that you print out once doing the pre-cruise online registration which is required and preferred way of getting the necessary information for the manifest the cruise lines must submit prior to setting sail. This all has to do with APIS – Advanced Passenger Information System and part of the security necessary to insure safe travel. Carnival calls it “Fun Pass”, Royal “Sign and Sail”, Celebrity “Xpress Boarding Pass” etc.

The pre-cruise online registration basically gives the cruise line the information ahead of time so that the check-in process for passengers is much smoother, simpler, and quicker since the agent there does not have to enter all the information in the computer for each person. They merely have to check ID, imprint credit card for on board account, and give you your ship ID card.

I imagine that I took this a little further than your question but I hope it does give you what you wanted to know. I do not recognize your name and do not see it in our data base so not sure how you came to e-mail me but not a problem, I’m glad to help. In fact, that was a good question and I’m actually going to post the question and my reply on my BLOG this morning. Thanks.

And if we can be of any help in planning future cruise vacations, if you are not happy with your agent presently, do not hesitate to contact us.

I also posted something else earlier today about fuel supplements so go past this post to the previous one. Yes, have been away for awhile both for traveling and personal reasons. We have some more traveling to do over the next few weeks as we sail on some new ships and to some new destinations in the S. Caribbean. More on these things later.


Fuel Supplement Update

Well, the good news is that Royal Caribbean and NCL (and their other brands) have now also come up with formulas to return fuel supplements for 2008 and 2009 sailings based on a formula tied to the NY Mercantile Exchange price on a specific date prior to each quarter. They are not adding a fuel supplement for bookings in 2010.

The benchmark is $65 so when under that at the date they predetermined, they will give an on board credit equal to what passengers paid for cruises during the following quarter.

OK - let's make this simple. For 2008 and 2009 sailings, you pay the fuel supplement and maybe have a surprise once on the ship of an on board credit you did not expect. Of course, depending on the cost of fuel, this could all change again.