When does a single day at Walt Disney World cost $7,000? A first world tale of pain and suffering.

While deployed to Afghanistan I learned that I would not be home for long before deploying again.

With that in mind, my wife decided we were going to take a pleasure cruise. We had talked about taking one for years but I was able to dodge, I go on cruises for a living....

After doing a little research I told her to go ahead and pick what she wanted, I didn't care how much we spent.

Being a busy woman, working 50 hours a week while running a home on her own, she took longer than expected to make the cruise reservations. When she finally did, I almost fainted upon getting her email, there wasn't much available in the timeframe we wanted so four tickets for a five day cruise cost a little over five thousand dollars. Admittedly, they were junior sweets on the top deck but I was still surprised she would spend so much. This is a woman who is on her feet 10-12 hours a day and wears shoes six months longer than she should. She did tell me she was sick to her stomach buying the tickets and the seller was not helpful (she went to the MWR tickets desk where they are supposed to sell discount tickets to military members).

The problem is, from the moment she bought the tickets, we were screwed.

If you've taken a cruise since 9-11, you know they have tightened the policies on getting onboard a cruise ship. Pre 911 was a little looser I understand. Now, you have to prove you are a U.S. citizen if you are in fact claiming to be a U.S. citizen taking a closed loop cruise (leaving from a port in the US and returning to that same port). My youngest child was born in Puerto Rico and that commonwealth has invalidated every birth certificate issued prior to 2010. That means we don't have a valid cert for her.

We had read about the PR birth cert issue a year or so ago and then promptly forgot all about it.

We drove to Tampa and tried to board the ship on Christmas Eve, we were excited beyond belief. You can only imagine the ice in my stomach when the first security point stopped us and told us my youngest could not board with her PR birth certificate. I instantly remembered the PR birth cert issue but thought they would make an exception, she did have a valid military dependent ID after all.

We quickly asked for a supervisor and were told the same thing, we could sail, she could not (I don't know HOW I kept my cool at that statement). We asked for the supervisor's supervisor and were turned over to the most senior person on the dock. She told us that she was sorry but there was no way my youngest was getting onboard that ship.

Amazingly, I kept my cool through all of this. In a moment of clarity, I realized the fault in this situation belonged to my wife and me. We had failed to take care of the PR birth certificate. My wife actually sent in a new request a very long time ago but if you've ever dealt with PR, you'll know that efficiency and speed are not the strong suits there.

As it became clear that we were not getting onboard the ship, my wife and kids lost it. Tears were shed as it dawned on them, we were standing on a pier, on Xmas eve, and we were not taking the cruise we had been dreaming about for weeks.

To make matters worse, there was no way the travel insurance we purchased was going to cover this. We actually had layers of insurance, we purchased a policy and the Master Card has a policy; neither one of them would do us any good. I knew that if we didn't make that ship, we were going to lose the five grand but, the inner economist in me instantly categorized it as a sunk cost and I moved on to salvaging the situation. When my wife asked me what we were going to do, without hesitation I told her, "We are going to Disney". She balked, how could we afford that after spending so much on the cruise? I told her to hell with it, the cruise was already paid off (we saved up and paid it off as soon as we used the card to pay for it).

We took a few minutes to compose ourselves, I never lost my cool with the Carnival people, I wanted to show my kids that you don't always have to lose your sh*t in the middle of adversity and I did just that, we actually told the employees "Happy Holidays" without sarcasm, and we discussed options. We decided to head east to Disney and see what happened.

I knew there was a "military only" resort next to Disney, we called them from the road and yes, they had rooms. We reserved a room for three nights and, after getting to the hotel, purchased single day visits to Universal and one day passes to Disney. The first night we were too late to visit anything so we had a nice meal at the resort and the kids decorated the lamp with paper ornaments we all joined in to make.

We visited Universal the next day and, while we enjoyed it, that park was out of control busy. The kids loved the Harry Potter exhibits but the wife and I stayed out of that area, you could only walk a few feet each direction it was so thick.

The next day, we did Magic Kingdom and were reminded why it's such a popular park. I actually watched a piece of trash be picked up less than three minutes after a kid tossed it on the ground. By now, the pain of dashed dreams was fading and we lost ourselves in enjoying the great rides at that park.

All in all, we spent well over two grand on the rooms, tickets, meals and gas. We even stopped on the drive home and spent a day visiting Fort Sumter, and the kids didn't complain.

So, the five grand lost on the cruise plus the two grand plus on the Disney resort etc all added up for one very emotional Christmas.

As we drove to the hotel we were listening to the news about the tornadoes ravaging homes and we reminded ourselves that no matter how bad it gets, as long as you have family and are together, everything will be all right. We recovered from the situation and still had a pretty damn good holiday and although we are slightly less well off financially, we have one hell of a tale to laugh about over the years, I just wish we could have "bought" the tale a little cheaper.

Thanks for "listening" to my plight. I'm still on leave and don't have anyone to spill this to, it feels good to get it out.

Tim

It's pretty sh*tty of them not to let your child come on board. Of course, there is chance she would blow up the whole ship and kill everyone on board.
This is total incompetence and bullsh*t. Sure, you should have had paperwork done the right way. But sticking to rules, just because they are rules...
that is actually just scary. As that is what the Germans did back then as well.

Glad you could make the most of it. Make sure you stay in one piece while being in Afghanistan. I haven't been deployed there, but I've worked on
JFC Brunssum and it was all about ISAF at that time.

Kind of a "first world" problem but damn that burns. I mean, we all work so hard to save up... Amazing how you kept your cool.

That is pretty screwed up. It shows real character that you did keep your cool under the circumstances. I am happy you made the best of it though, I really liked how you did the ornaments and hung them on the lamp shade in the room.

BTW how old are your rug rats?

You should contact the cruise company and complain to everyone and anyone who will listen. You were able to prove you were US citizens, and that your child was your child. Regardless of where they're born, children of US citizens are automatically US citizens.

Kudos to you for keeping it together in front of your family during such a B.S. situation. I remember the rigmarole my wife and I had to go through a few years ago to get passport cards for ourselves and our four kids in order to go on a Caribbean cruise, but that's nothing like what you had to go through.

Again, kudos to you for giving your family a vacation they won't soon forget. It's the time you spend with them and the memories that matter.

Wow! Sorry to hear what happened (the same thing almost happened to my wife and I when, a week before our honeymoon, I realized that we lost our passports when we moved. Luckily for about a billion dollars you can get a passport in 3 days or so). It's really cool what you did though and definitely an inspiring story to start a Monday morning.

I'd write to Carnival, Disney and your local large city paper, see if you can get them to return the money. It's not like your child was a threat, it was just bureaucratic gears grinding. Shine a light on them and they'll probably do the right thing.

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I am starting a letter campaign this week to everyone at Carnival. I accept it was our fault but can't believe an honest company would take five thousand bucks from someone and just tell us to piss off, and that is what everyone at Carnival has done to this point. It doesn't hurt their business for the most part, it just creates advertisement for their insurance, which, to my knowledge, no insurance would have covered this (reimbursed us) since it was a "pre-existing" condition.

If they would only return some of the cost, we'll eat the rest. Hell, if they would just give us two cheap rooms on a future cruise, we'll take it. I can't see how they can't offer something in return.

Demonicmaster wrote:

BTW how old are your rug rats?

They are 18 and 12, both girls.

Mr GT Chris wrote:

Kind of a "first world" problem but damn that burns. I mean, we all work so hard to save up... Amazing how you kept your cool.

Agree about the first world problem. Trying to console my wife, I told her that "People all over the world would love to have this problem".

You ARE amazing. My wife booked plane tickets, price was dropped $20 a day later. She called to ask for a refund and they said, fairly rudely, no way (in Japan customer service is usually good or, at least, polite). She was fuming for a couple of days despite my best efforts.

infromsea wrote:

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I am starting a letter campaign this week to everyone at Carnival. I accept it was our fault but can't believe an honest company would take five thousand bucks from someone and just tell us to piss off, and that is what everyone at Carnival has done to this point. It doesn't hurt their business for the most part, it just creates advertisement for their insurance, which, to my knowledge, no insurance would have covered this (reimbursed us) since it was a "pre-existing" condition.

If they would only return some of the cost, we'll eat the rest. Hell, if they would just give us two cheap rooms on a future cruise, we'll take it. I can't see how they can't offer something in return.

Demonicmaster wrote:

BTW how old are your rug rats?

They are 18 and 12, both girls.

Mr GT Chris wrote:

Kind of a "first world" problem but damn that burns. I mean, we all work so hard to save up... Amazing how you kept your cool.

Agree about the first world problem. Trying to console my wife, I told her that "People all over the world would love to have this problem".

Tell us how it goes. That sucks in general.

I've taken a few cruises on carnival and wouldn't be opposed to writting to them as well.

My wife and I took three cruises between... I guess it was 2004 and 2006. They were all on Princess cruises, but the second and third cruises were after they were bought by Carnival.

The first cruise was absolutely awesome, no complaints at all. We were on an older ship, and I guess the staff were pretty much all veterans. We were so impressed that we gave out extra tips to a number of staff members right before we got off the ship.

The second cruise was a complete nightmare. My wife had been having some stomach issues (this being before we found out she was gluten-intolerant, not a good thing to not know when most of what you're doing is eating), and our toilet was broken almost the entire cruise. Two to three times a day we were down at the desk complaining about it. When it wouldn't work, she'd have to literally run out of our room, down the hall, down two flights of stairs to the closest public bathroom, all while cramping with the runs. On top of that, the staff in general was horrible on this trip. We pulled our tips from our bill, and handed out decent tips to a few waiters that really made our dinners exceptional.

After that cruise, my wife wrote a letter to the company, explaining all the crap we went through on that trip. They wrote us back, apologizing, and they offered us a pretty good discount on a future cruise. I don't remember how much it was, but I do remember we PCS'd from SC to MD before we went, I hadn't found a job yet, and we were still able to afford going. We didn't do much on this one, spent most of the time in the spa (got in early on an unlimited use package) and only went ashore to do some light shopping (no excursions at all), so we didn't spend as much as we normally would.

Anyways, you should definitely contact someone in their corporate office. That industry in general seems to be hurting right now (from what I've seen of the advertisements they keep sending us), and locking in a chance for you to fill a future cabin is probably not something they'll want to brush off.

Stengah wrote:

You should contact the cruise company and complain to everyone and anyone who will listen. You were able to prove you were US citizens, and that your child was your child. Regardless of where they're born, children of US citizens are automatically US citizens.

That's not a given sadly. The child is of the country they are born in regardless of where the parents call home. I'd say keep complaining, eventually you'll get somewhere. If nothing is working by escalating up the corporate ladder try the media, its surprising how fast they will save face if you take that approach... 7000 isn't anything to scoff at. If you used a credit card also call them and their insurance might help you out too.

good luck

Blotto The Clown wrote:

That's not a given sadly. The child is of the country they are born in regardless of where the parents call home.

Puerto Rico is effectively a state of the United States when it comes to dealing with births. You are given a US passport since you are a US citizen. The best way to describe the situation is if the treasury invalidated all previous currency due to fraud and you had to get all new cash with the new anti-fraud features.

Blotto The Clown wrote:
Stengah wrote:

You should contact the cruise company and complain to everyone and anyone who will listen. You were able to prove you were US citizens, and that your child was your child. Regardless of where they're born, children of US citizens are automatically US citizens.

That's not a given sadly. The child is of the country they are born in regardless of where the parents call home.

State Department[/url]]A child born abroad to two U.S. citizen parents acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under section 301(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provided that one of the parents had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions prior to the child’s birth. The child is considered to be born in wedlock if the child is the genetic issue of the married couple.

Sorry you had to deal with this. +1 on writing a polite (but firm) letter explaining things to corporate and asking them to make things right.

Edwin wrote:
Blotto The Clown wrote:

That's not a given sadly. The child is of the country they are born in regardless of where the parents call home.

Puerto Rico is effectively a state of the United States when it comes to dealing with births. You are given a US passport since you are a US citizen. The best way to describe the situation is if the treasury invalidated all previous currency due to fraud and you had to get all new cash with the new anti-fraud features.

ah, being canadian means I dont know my US geography all that well.

That's awful. Please be sure to keep us up to date if there's anything we can do to help.

Edwin wrote:

Puerto Rico is effectively a state of the United States when it comes to dealing with births. You are given a US passport since you are a US citizen. The best way to describe the situation is if the treasury invalidated all previous currency due to fraud and you had to get all new cash with the new anti-fraud features.

Stengah wrote:

You should contact the cruise company and complain to everyone and anyone who will listen. You were able to prove you were US citizens, and that your child was your child. Regardless of where they're born, children of US citizens are automatically US citizens.

State Department[/url]]A child born abroad to two U.S. citizen parents acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under section 301(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provided that one of the parents had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions prior to the child’s birth. The child is considered to be born in wedlock if the child is the genetic issue of the married couple.

Blotto The Clown wrote:

That's not a given sadly. The child is of the country they are born in regardless of where the parents call home.

I would also point out, he being in the military also pretty much guarantees the children born abroad even in a country like Germany will be considered a US citizen, because of his home of record he has on file in his 2-1.

I had a hell of a time getting my security clearance because my wifes mother. I had to explain all in writing that my mother in law was indeed a US citizen even though she did not have a US birth certificate because she was born in France in WW2 to an Austrian Father who was a US soldier and a French mother on a military base there. Plus on top of all that, the security clearance paperwork is also a royal pain in the ass.

Demonicmaster wrote:
Edwin wrote:

Puerto Rico is effectively a state of the United States when it comes to dealing with births. You are given a US passport since you are a US citizen. The best way to describe the situation is if the treasury invalidated all previous currency due to fraud and you had to get all new cash with the new anti-fraud features.

Stengah wrote:

You should contact the cruise company and complain to everyone and anyone who will listen. You were able to prove you were US citizens, and that your child was your child. Regardless of where they're born, children of US citizens are automatically US citizens.

State Department[/url]]A child born abroad to two U.S. citizen parents acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under section 301(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provided that one of the parents had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions prior to the child’s birth. The child is considered to be born in wedlock if the child is the genetic issue of the married couple.

Blotto The Clown wrote:

That's not a given sadly. The child is of the country they are born in regardless of where the parents call home.

I would also point out, he being in the military also pretty much guarantees the children born abroad even in a country like Germany will be considered a US citizen, because of his home of record he has on file in his 2-1.

I had a hell of a time getting my security clearance because my wifes mother. I had to explain all in writing that my mother in law was indeed a US citizen even though she did not have a US birth certificate because she was born in France in WW2 to an Austrian Father who was a US soldier and a French mother on a military base there. Plus on top of all that, the security clearance paperwork is also a royal pain in the ass.

that feels like it settles it, really to bad its post issue though gl