Cruise ships today may not be a popular notion for many people since the sinking of the Carnival liner Concordia this past week on January 15, 2012. Staying the course would have prevented the lost of precious lives and valuable cargo, not to mention the ship itself. The captain’s leaving the sinking ship before all passengers were safely off cost him the loss of his position and resulted in his being detained; he was placed under Coast Guard arrest.
I recently went on a different Caribbean cruise ship with my daughter, simultaneously to the one that sank. Taking a few minutes of my time to retrieve her sea pass card would have prevented a greater amount of time lost while she had been detained in a foreign country.
We sailed to Cozumel, Mexico, a faraway destination we had been looking forward to since last July. I hadn’t yet booked an excursion for the port-of-call. After embarking from Fort Lauderdale, the ship’s representative sold us a tour featuring highlights and shopping. It was emphasized to arrive early at the designated site on the Mexican pier. The morning we reached Mexico, I was anxious to depart for the excursion. I protested to the ship’s porter who detained us due to leaving my daughter’s sea pass card in our stateroom. I carried my sea pass card, my driver’s licence and her state ID in addition to both our passports. Shouldn’t that be enough identification ?
No! It was enough to get passed the ship’s attendant, but not the Mexican Police! I had to leave her at the Mexican gate…in the rain…in a wheelchair! I was thankful a couple of friends were not far behind and willingly stayed detained with her.
I ran 75% of the way to the ship before slowing to a fast walk. I explained the crisis to the ship attendants who commented that she should not have been allowed off the ship without her sea pass card. I waited the slow elevators full of people pouring into the ship from their excursions in Mexico. I obtained her card from our 10th floor stateroom and repeated the patience-assimilator back down to the gangway. No waiting in line to leave the ship. Who in their right mind would get off a ship just about to sail back to the states?
The marvelous tour we’d been on took longer than expected and I feared I would not have ample time to reach the Mexican Police with the sea pass card. So I again ran 75% of the way back to the Mexican gate, breathing heavily as I walked the remaining distance. I could see one of our new friends making her way through the crowd ahead. She met me to say they had kept my daughter distracted. At that moment I was about to cry, she protested. “Don’t fall apart now, you’ll stress your daughter out and undo all our efforts to keep her happy these past 40 minutes.”
The rain increased to a downpour. Could we get any wetter? Some of the other returning passengers may have thought we were having a wheelchair race back to the ship. I know for me, it couldn’t be too soon to have both my daughter and I back onboard again.
Though detained a short time before sailing back to the states, I count my blessings for traveling mercies on our first cruise. I also thank God for keeping every one of my steps safe.
Why wasn’t two forms of picture official ID acceptable for the Mexican Police? I discovered upon returning to Florida at the Customs check-point that our passports were invalid. I hadn’t read the directions to fill in the signatures on the first page of the new passports after receiving them in the mail. There is an old saying that really is a nugget of wisdom: A stitch in time saves nine.
If you have a story about a similar experience, I would love to read it. Leave your comment at the end of this post.