A family has a warning before you book your next vacation.
HOUSTON — Thousands of travelers are returning to cruises this year for the first time since the pandemic began.
But most cruises now have very strict requirements for what you need to show before boarding.
As thousands of travelers start booking cruises for the summer, one family has a warning.
“I still cry all the time over it,” Blanche White said.
For White and Debbie Schwabe, a Celebrity Summit cruise was supposed to be a dream trip.
They headed to Fort Lauderdale with their bags and documents. Schwabe even had his original birth certificate, driver’s license and COVID-19 test information.
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But as they boarded, Schwabe was turned away.
“They said my birth certificate was wrong,” Schwabe said.
The warden said his 1969 hospital birth certificate was not acceptable identification.
“They said it was decorative,” Schwabe said. “It was not issued by the state.”
They had to go home. Their dream trip was over before it even started. They slept at the airport before flying home and lost $3,000 for everything.
“They wouldn’t help us,” Schwabe said in tears.
Cruising the Caribbean is very different from inland sailing.
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Since you are leaving the United States, it is important to have all the essential documents, otherwise you could also be denied boarding.
Travel agent Jerry Katz says a passport isn’t necessary for most Caribbean cruises. However, says Katz, cruise lines generally require a state-issued birth certificate, not a hospital certificate.
“It’s a memorial keepsake for mom and dad, maybe,” Katz said. “But that has no meaningful relevance and no citizenship relevance to anyone traveling abroad.”
Katz says his agents spotted the fine print on Celebrity Summit’s website.
Katz says baptism papers, hospital birth certificates, voter ID cards and Social Security cards are not acceptable.
We contacted Celebrity, asking if the women could get a refund. The cruise line only said it would investigate.
The key is to check with your cruise line and not a third-party agent what exactly is needed to board, so you don’t waste your money.