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Author: garyrr

Joined: 8/25/2012
Posts: 118
Trips Taken: 16
Countries Visited:

Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, S Africa, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Peru, New Zealand, Greece, Turkey, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, India, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Italy, Ireland, Great Britain, Netherlands, Belgium, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia

Traveler Since: 2000

December 15, 2012

Your focus seems to be at GCT -  just remember, this is INDUSTRY PRACTICE,  so don't blame GCT for what they are doing -   all (if not, the VAST majority of) cruise lines do it this way.   And none that I've been on makes it obvious that you can "opt out"!  (I'm sure all of them have some means of doing so - but it is not "announced").    So don't expect GCT to be the one to "buck the trend" and make significant changes to their policy on this!

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 531
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji

Traveler Since: 2006

December 15, 2012

An explanation of the practice should be in the appropriate handbook and staff should be trained not make up answers to questions that they can't answer.

On a Celebrity Mediterranean cruise (more than 2.000 passengers) we turned our passports in when we boarded and had them returned the night before we disembarked. None of the countries we entered were stamped in my passport so I think it's a matter of having the ship having them on hand to show to officials if requested.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

December 15, 2012

twolane, I don't understand why you are taking this so personally.  As Gary, and others, have pointed out, this is the common practice in the cruise ship industry.  If you don't want to surrender your passport  -  and nobody is bullying you into it or confiscating it  -  your solution is obvious.  Don't take cruises!

Years ago (and I'm talking forty or fity years), hotels in France and other countries took passports so that they could check them against police records.  This was very common at the time.

I've posted this before.  I take with me a photocopy of the first two pages of my passport, and that's what I carry once I'm in a country.  The passport itself goes into the safe in my room, along with my return tickets, most of my cash, any jewelry (costume, but I wouldn't want to lose it), copies of my credit cards, and anything else that's sensitive.  On the ships, all of that with the exception of my passport, goes into the safe.  On the occasions when I don't have a safe, the hotel will have a safe for visitors.  When I used to travel in New Zealand and stayed in motels, I locked all that in my suitcase.  But I never carry the actual passport.

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 492
Trips Taken: 15
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

December 15, 2012

This spring, on The Seine: Paris to Normandy. which does not cross international borders, they gave us the explanation that it s to avoid people leaving their passport behind in their safe at the end of the cruise. They say that they, or other GCT ships had encountered the problem many times, resulting in last minute rush deliveries, and/or missed flights. This sounded quite plausible, as I am 6 ft. tall and I have to reach up and feel for items left in the bottm of the safe. A shorter person could easily miss an item in the bottom of the safe. I also remember the years when most European hotels held the passports of all foreign visitors. W always carry color photocopies of the signature/photo pages of our passports for identification and to facilitate getting a replacement passport, in case of loss. We also bring our US drivers license to ease getting a replacement passport.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

December 15, 2012

 Gary has said it many times; this is industry practice.  We have takena number of Celebrity cruises where this is done and each time, we had our passports returned with the appropriate stamps in them to indicate the borders we crossed.  The only problem we had with that is the location of the stamps; they tend to each pick a blank page for stamping.  We haven't been able to find a way to make them use a blank page.  Where we traveled with GCT, and didn't go out of EU countries, where there is no need for border checks, we gave in our passports although it was unnecessary.  Very likely, as was opined, they want the passports to insure one settles one's shipboard account, more than anything else.  Of course, they're not going to tell you that, but we can think of no other good reason.  Not returning the room key is far less a problem, and IOHO, not a very good excuse.  Follow the money, and one discovers a far better reason.  At any rate, we don't find that a problem, being far less suspicous than others.   After all, GCT is NOT going to use your passport for nefarious reasons.     

Author: suepoor1234

Joined: 7/20/2011
Posts: 38
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

All the states except Hawaii; east and west Canada, all of Western Europe(except Iceland and Greenland); the Baltics and Scandanavia; Belarus, Poland, Ukraine; Russia; Turkey, Jordan and Israel; China, Mongolia, and Tibet; Egypt, Morocco, Tanzania; Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatamala, El Salvador; Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Peru, Argentina; Australia and New Zealand; Antarctica.

Traveler Since: 2007

December 16, 2012

In my experience, several of the above answers are "the truth" as the person telling you understands it. A variety of reasons can be valid for collecting (not "confiscating") passports. I have left my passport at the front desks of hotels all over the world. Since I carry photocopies of my passport I am not overly concerned. Once I decided to be "smart" and keep my passport on an overnight train ride from Moscow through Belarus to Warsaw rather than allow the car's matron to keep it for the duration (each car had its own caretaker).  BIG MISTAKE. I was awakened every couple of hours for passport checks -- once by machine-gun carrying Russian troops who took us out of the compartment, demanded passports,  and looked through all the berths and our luggage. I was glad to have my money belt tucked safety under my pajamas. I was later informed that guards become suspicious because I had not delivered my passport with the others in that car.  Lesson learned.

Just this last year, traveling in China with OAT, at least twice the guide gathered our passports for the front desk to register them with the local authorities. Yes, she had lists with all that information and even photocopies already, but authorities must justify their jobs and demanded the original passports. As well, tours involving buses can sometimes have unannounced, sporatic "checks" and the guide or an official collects all the passports. Recently in Tibet, an official thought we were taking his picture. He got on the bus, demanded we quit taking pictures, collected all the passports and went somewhere with them, but then came back more calm. We were held up for about 15 minutes.  Even the guides were anxious about this incident. I have never seen a passport kept for more than 20 minutes. 

Author: avalarue

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 68
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2008

December 16, 2012

I find this all very interesting. We have taken three cruises with GCT and only once had our passports collected at the beginning. That was on the Bizet, cruising in only one country. We did not relinquish our passports on either the Tihki Don (Russia) or Chardonnay (Rhone) ships. I kind of had the idea that, on the Bizet, the passports were held until the final bill was paid at the end of the trip.

Author: twolane55

Joined: 9/16/2012
Posts: 9
Traveler Since: 2012

December 17, 2012

Thanks to everyone for sharing your personal opinions and anecdotes.  All very helpfull.  I offer a few more thoughts.

Just because a practice is common or industry standard doesn't make it a smart idea.  A U.S. passport is better than gold on the black market and a targeted key item for identity thieves.  While I'm sure GCT has our best interests at heart, a ship of any size is a microcosm of society at large and thus one can expect about the same percentages of criminals on board as crew or passengers.

Any security or identity theft expert will tell you to guard your passport carefully and that when you are not required to or don't wish to carry it while travelling, it should be secured in your room safe.  That's your room safe.  Personally, I do not want to hand my passport over to a stranger for two weeks while I'm on a cruise ship - of any size.  I should have the option to do so if I'm comfortable doing so, but don't hand me a bunch of B.S. reasons for making me hand over my passport when I board a ship.  I welcome GCT's official position that it will now be optional. It's a decision I should make for myself.

Yes, I do take this personally as it's my passport, my security, and my identity.  If you are ever  the victim of identity theft, you'll take a different view as well.  As for those who don't mind handing over their passports just because someone asks them too, why not hand over your credit cards, your cash, your social security card, and a list of your P.I.N.s as well?

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

December 17, 2012

 twolane55-we recognize your right to be overlly suspicious, even when unwarranted.  But you should take cognizance of the experience of those who are replying to you.  Look at the number of trips you those who are replying to you have taken as compared to what you have taken, justwith Grand Circle alone,and compare them to your travel experience.  For the most part, these are seasoned travelers who are all telling you that in group travel, especially with Grand Circle/OAT, your suspicions are unfounded.  True, advice is given to you about passport security, but have you asked what is the frame of reference of that advice?  If you do ask that follow-up question, you will see that advice is directed toward the individual traveler, and not one who is part of a large, organized group from a reputable company, such as Grand Circle.  Under those circumstances, you should have no fear of surrendering your passport; you'll get it back.  It will not be copied or sold on the black market.  If you don't want to disabuse yourself of your unfounded fears, which is your right, of course, perhaps it would be better for you to travel on your own, where the advice you're operating under is indeed appropriate, and you won't aggrevate over having to surrender your passport  for group convenience.   

Author: garyrr

Joined: 8/25/2012
Posts: 118
Trips Taken: 16
Countries Visited:

Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, S Africa, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Peru, New Zealand, Greece, Turkey, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, India, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Italy, Ireland, Great Britain, Netherlands, Belgium, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia

Traveler Since: 2000

December 17, 2012

twolane55 -
I find your comment "that it will now be optional" quite interesting.  You seem to think you changed their policy.  I think you'll find it's always been "officially optional" - but it's rarely used (keeping the passport) - and the personnel on the ships may not even be aware.  I truly think you should consider individual travel (as many have suggested) if you feel so strongly about the rules / practices of group travel.  There truly are reasons for practices.

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 241
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 1995

December 18, 2012

I wasn't going to add my two cents to this thread, but just thought, "why not!"  I don't know about all of the river ships, but this thread mentioned about the "ship's safe".  On one of our river cruises, not sure which one, when I inquired about our passport and when we could get it back, the desk clerk told me my passport was safe with Admin.  I mentioned the safe must be bigger than the room safe with all those passports, currency, etc.  She told me passports were safe in a desk drawer that had a lock.  How's that for securing your passport with the front desk? 

Author: twolane55

Joined: 9/16/2012
Posts: 9
Traveler Since: 2012

December 19, 2012

On the River Concerto the passports were "secured" in the key slot/mail boxes behind the front desk for several days.  Not one to let sleeping dogs lie, I complained about the lax security for the passports and the next morning they were gone.

When I was finally able to take possession of my passport after I turned in my cabin key, the clerk opened a drawer under the counter and found my passport amongst the others "secured" there.

I have been involved in safety and security work for my entire career.  Over the years, I've noticed that what seemed like a crackpot idea before the proverbial manure hit the fan is suddenly the new order of the day as everyone scrambles to cover their backsides. Where's the guy who, in the late 1990s, suggested airport security include passengers remove their shoes for scanning? 

And, when the manure hits the fan, nobody, and I mean nobody will take care of you as well as you can take care of yourself - IF you are prepared.  One only has to look at the Costa Concordia for an example.

I will continue to push back when I encounter anyone who wants to hold my passport for my convenience.

 

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

December 19, 2012

 twolane55-In our view, your continuing to 'push back' when your 'one size fits all' ideas appear to not apply to the circumstances you would like them to.  We have chased windmills before on other issues and have, like Don Quixote, never caught them; we suspect that you also never will.  the windmill happens to have the edge.

We have said before that your ideas are unsuitable for the group travel experiences run by reputable companies.  If you want to participate in group travel, those are the rules.  In many cases, as been told to you, they are industry standards.  If you feel the procedures are incompatible with your concerns, then, as we have said, and seconded by travelgeek,  you will certainly be more comfortable traveling on your own, where your concerns for the security of your passoport will be totally at your discretion, and you won't have to aggregate over what you consider to be a breech( although quite unfounded ).  Perhaps when and if you choose to participate in group travel for some time, your unfounded concerns will be disabused by personal experience.  We feel that that time is not now for you at least.  As we have said before, you have been given the beiefit of experience by a number of well-traveled individuals.  Perhaps when you reach that stage in your travel carear, you will have gained the personal experience to realize that your 'one-size fits all' attitude towards passport security does indeed require a modification.   That time, as we have said, may not be now,   So, we wish you well in your chase of windmills. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: lennie_

Joined: 4/23/2012
Posts: 3
Trips Taken: 1
Traveler Since: 2012

December 19, 2012

"One should never pass up the opportunity to just shut up.:

        Will Rogers, American humorist 

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 531
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji

Traveler Since: 2006

December 19, 2012

If collecting the passports on the cruise is your only complaint, and you enjoyed the group experience otherwise, then just print the GCT statement that turning in your passport is optional. You may be awakened very early in the morning to produce the passport when enterin a different country, but that's your choice.  

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

December 19, 2012

Actually, luisa, he/she very likely will NOT be awakened early in the morning just to stamp their passports.  More likely, they will NOT be allowed ashore because they have not cleared immigration.  As most OAT cruises dock very early in the morning, so as to allow passengers time to eat breakfast, and board busses for whatever activities are planned, immigration processing does occur in those wee hours.  So, he/she can wave at everybody else departing for the day, while they remain onboard, holding their passports which they have dutifully kept on their person in order to make sure they are 'secure.' 

Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 141
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2005

December 20, 2012

I've got to vote with "Twolane" on this one.  Although we have always confidently and comfortably turned over our passports when on the river cruises, should we for some reason in the future prefer NOT to turn them over I think the option to keep them on our persons or in our room safes should be available to travelers, which it apparently is. This is a very personal matter, and each person should have the chance to make his or her own informed choice.

 We are all grown up people here, with a wide variety of travel experiences and professional backgrounds, and we are all certainly capable of analyzing the situation and making the decisions with which we are most comfortable.  Just because someone makes a choice which is different than the one another poster might make doesn't make them wrong, nor should it give other forum users the right to be insulting or demeaning. 

I'm a little shocked at the level of animosity which this passport debate has generated. We should all be able to have different opinions and still manage to be civil to one another.

Author: twolane55

Joined: 9/16/2012
Posts: 9
Traveler Since: 2012

December 20, 2012

Industry practice....industry practice.....mmmmm....why does that ring a bell?  Maybe because industry practice for a fever used to be a good blood letting or the application of leeches. No?  Maybe it was industry practice that allowed airline passengers to carry box cutters in their carry-on.  Hummm.  Maybe it was industry practice that allowed smoking on passenger aircraft.  I think it was industry practice that allowed metal dashboards and no seatbelts in automobiles. 

Wait, wait....it's coming to me.  It was industry practice that mandated lifeboats for only half of the passengers on the Titanic.

Yep, industry practice.  Works like a champ. ;-)

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

December 20, 2012

In view of your examples, can we understand that when you charge a meal in a restaurant you do not hand your credit card to the server?  It's an act of faith when we do that, just as giving our passports to the cruise staffs.

As a matter of fact, one restaurant chain based in Boston did experiment with the server bringing a portable charge machine to the table so that diners didn't have to let their cards out of their sights.  But it didn't last long.

Author: suepoor1234

Joined: 7/20/2011
Posts: 38
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

All the states except Hawaii; east and west Canada, all of Western Europe(except Iceland and Greenland); the Baltics and Scandanavia; Belarus, Poland, Ukraine; Russia; Turkey, Jordan and Israel; China, Mongolia, and Tibet; Egypt, Morocco, Tanzania; Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatamala, El Salvador; Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Peru, Argentina; Australia and New Zealand; Antarctica.

Traveler Since: 2007

December 20, 2012

Was just watching an old black and white movie last night. The purser and immigration/customs officials were going to each cabin individually checking "papers" and stamping same.  Guess that was "industry practice" in the days of elegant travel when each ship had its own officials, they had several days to check papers, we traveled with steamer trunks, and we dressed to the nines each night for dinner.  Times change; things become more efficient; and get relatively less expensive so regular folks like me can see the world.  "We pays our money and we takes our chances" as Pogo would say, so let them collect your passport, don't allow them to collect your passport; it's up to the individual.

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