I’m not one to stress out and get anxious over ever little thing but I have to say that our recent vacation plans to embark on our first cruise nearly freaked me out- to the point that I had really begun to dread the cruise. I didn’t want to talk about it, plan for it anymore or pack. Every mention of the cruise nearly reduced me to tears. Of course it didn’t start out that way, I vaguely remember being excited at one point.
I’d heard about the cruise through our cover school in Alabama. It seems they like to take part in a not-back-to-school cruise which is open to all interested families- regardless of your homeschool cover. The price was right and a cruise sounded like fun so I spoke to my husband and he agreed that it was something we should certainly try out.
Of course I thought it was such a great deal that I had a hard time keeping it to myself so I invited a family from Ohio that we are close to. Then I thought it would be great if we could treat my parent’s to a fun vacation. But we didn’t stop there. Nope, if my parent’s were going, maybe my mother-in-law would enjoy it as well.
Now, this is where my blood pressure starts to rise. We were going to Mexico. We did not need passports. Some of you will be shocked. Some of you will think I have no idea what I’m talking about. Some of you will think I lost my mind. Allow me to assure you that I just got off this ship and stepped foot in Mexico and NO, I did not need a passport. So how is this possible?
Our cruise is what is called a closed loop route. Meaning we depart from one port in the US, sail to our destination(s) and when all is said and done arrive back to the same US port on the same vessel. Since this was the case, AND we are US citizens, we did not need passports. I understood this. I had spoken to our travel agent at great length, I’d even read Carnival’s website regarding passports to make sure that I was perfectly clear PRIOR to booking our cruise.
So why is this frustrating? Because when everyone found out about our plans EVERYONE, even people that we don’t normally talk to called to tell us how stupid we were. OK, maybe those weren’t the words that they used but I can assure you that is exactly what they were thinking. It happened frequently enough that my husband didn’t even believe me when I told him that passports weren’t required. So he called Carnival and the US Customs to find out for himself (which bothered me just a teeny, tiny bit) and no, they were not required. Not a bad idea and I will tell you they are recommended, but not required.
Now I do know that each and every person that called us meant well, but after the first… ummm…ten calls, I really cringed when the word PASSPORT was mentioned.
So, if we didn’t need passports, just what was needed? A picture ID for everyone over the age of 16 and a certified copy of everyone’s birth certificate to even get on the boat. This is NOT a recommendation. No birth certificate equals no sailing. A certified birth certificate is a huge deal.
We were finally down to the last week before we were to leave, I called my mom to check on my parent’s and find out exactly when they’d arrive at our house and to ask if they wanted to join us on any of the excursions. It was then that she shared with me that there was an error on her birth certificate and her name was misspelled. I could have died right there.
We had less than a week before we were to leave on what I had hoped would be the vacation of a lifetime and now I wasn’t even sure that my mom would be able to go…which meant that my dad also would not go…which meant that my mother-in-law wouldn’t have a ride to our home in Alabama and the cruise would basically suck since they had really looked forward to going and the last thing I wanted was to go without them. Oh, and did I mention that we had elected NOT to purchase travel insurance? If we didn’t depart on this cruise, we were out the entire cost. No refunds.
I explained to my mom why she needed the birth certificate and got of the phone and bawled like a baby. I cried and I cried and I cried until my husband finally told me that I needed to calm down before I had a heart attack. This was Saturday.
I spent some time in prayer, calmed down, and came to my senses. I knew for better or worse, ultimately God was in control. At this point we needed a miracle for my mom to get on that boat but I accepted the fact that if things couldn’t be resolved for whatever reason, it just wasn’t meant for them to go with us however heartbreaking that would be.
On Monday my mom went to the city building armed with everything from her social security card, driver’s license, school records, marriage license and anything else she could think of and you know what? We got our miracle! They knew that someone had made a typo and typed an ‘a’ where an ‘o’ should have been and after receiving an OK from the state, made the changes and issued a new birth certificate the same day!
Of course everyone in the city building thought my mom was silly for worrying about her birth certificate because after all, she didn’t even have a passport…
From oil spills to passports, to birth certificates with typos and vehicle problems, I wondered if we’d even make it to the boat. Of course it all worked out but this post is long enough so you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear the rest of the story.