Archive for October, 2006

Congress recently delayed the implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative passport requirements for cruise passengers. What this means is that if you are cruising to the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada or Bermuda and you are leaving from a U.S. port, you will not need a passport until June 1, 2009. However, if you are travelling by air to these regions you will need a passport by January 8, 2007.

Caribbean tourism officials are very concerned about the effect this will have on the region as it gives an unfair advantage to cruise ship companies over land-based tourism.

When you visit a country on a cruise ship, that country or region benefits from port taxes but in general cruise ship passengers eat all their meals on board and don’t spend a lot of money in ports. These places have to deal with huge numbers of tourists who overrun a destination for four or five hours and then are gone. The hope of the local tourism officials is that you will fall in love with a place and come back for a land vacation which will more directly benefit the economy.

The Jamaica Gleaner reports that “among the nine Caribbean destinations that may be impacted, the biggest effect could be felt in Jamaica, where 80 per cent of U.S. visitors to the island do not use passports.

“When the numbers were translated into direct and indirect employment, some 114,000 jobs in Jamaica were said to be on the line.”

You can read the very interesting, full article here.

My advice: get a passport anyway, as soon as possible. And if you visit a place on a cruise that you really like, go back and spend some time there.

A while back I posted a question from one of our users: “I was wondering if anyone else out there has cruised with a child? Is there any special embarkation documentation required for children with two mommies?” Though we didn’t have any answers for her, she has returned from her cruise and here is her report:

“We just returned from our cruise and I wanted to share our experience with traveling with our son. Prior to the cruise, we applied for his passport. In order to get a passport, both parents (and child) need to be present and you need to submit an authorized copy of the birth certificate. We applied at a local post office and luckily for us, an old classmate of my partner’s happened to be handling the passport applications. No need to fuss about our relationship to one another. Our son’s passport arrived at our house in about 2 weeks (we had to expedite it due to the timing in which we applied).

“On embarkation day we were armed with his passport, his birth certificate and a letter from the cryobank that we used. They only looked at his passport and did not ask for any other proof of parentage. Happily, it turned out to be anticlimatic as I was ready to do battle.

“I should mention that my partner and I are legally wed in our home state of Massachusetts and are both listed on his original birth certificate. Also, just today, we completed his adoption. Something we think is absurd but in order for us to be fully recognized *outside* of Massachusetts as his legal parents is a necessity.

Hope this helps the future cruisers out there with a little one.”

I will add that when Mary and I applied for our passports a couple of years ago in preparation for a Caribbean cruise we stood in the post office for some time trying to figure out how to mark our marital status. We are legally married in British Columbia but were afraid that marking ourselves as married might bring up some homophobia at the passport office – and our passports would be delayed. In the end we decided to be brave and deal with the consequences, of which there were none. We received our passports on time and they don’t even say anything about marital status on them. So I’m sure somewhere we’re on some big black list in the Bush Administration, but we have our passports and are free to travel the world.