This is the first of a series of articles reviewing the cruise that my wife and I recently took aboard the Carnival Dream, which departed from Port Canaveral on October 20th. I previously wrote that one should fly to the cruise port the day before sailing, so we followed my own advice and flew from BWI on Southwest Airlines to Orlando, Florida, which is the closest major airport to Port Canaveral. The Comfort Inn and Suites in Coca Beach, Florida has a special deal in which they will pick you up at the Orlando airport, bring you to the hotel, provide a room overnight (with free WiFi access), feed you breakfast the next morning, and then take you to your ship for boarding. What is more, their deal even provides transportation from the cruise port back to the airport once your cruise has been completed. Once our luggage had been retrieved, we called the transport company, and they were there to pick us up in about 5 minutes. The hotel is nice and clean and the room was very comfortable. We did not eat their breakfast, as we elected to sleep in instead. There was a line of passengers for the shuttle to the cruise port, so we had to wait for several buses, but we arrived at the cruise terminal with plenty of time to spare. It was a good thing we did.
As we were pulling in to the terminal I asked my wife if she had her passport ready. After looking through her carry on bags, panic started to set in. We got our luggage off the shuttle bus, and proceeded to go through each and every one of them multiple times, but her passport was nowhere to be found. Somewhere between the BWI security line and arrival at the cruise port, the passport was lost. We put our luggage to the side rather than handing it to the ship's porters because if we couldn't get on the ship, we certainly didn't want our luggage to have a good time without us.
Into the terminal we went, where I bypassed the regular line and asked for assistance from the line reserved for those sailing in suites or who have reached Platinum status with Carnival. They took us through security and to the supervisor in charge of check in. She asked if we had her birth certificate with us, but of course since she had a passport, we didn't bring the birth certificate too. I offered that we could have someone at home email or fax a copy of it, and that was said to be acceptable. So, we called our son Robert, who knows where the travel documents are kept, and had him retrieve Jean's birth certificate. I then talked him through the process of scanning it and attaching the PDF file to an email which he then sent to the supervisor. The whole process took about 20 minutes. Once the supervisor had the copy, we were cleared to board. I ran back out to where we left our luggage and made sure it got put on the proper cart, and went back inside to completed the embarkation process.
Once on board, we dropped off our carry on luggage in our stateroom and went to get some lunch, and well deserved drink to calm our nerves. This was our 14th cruise, and the first (and hopefully last) time that we have had any issue with travel documents. Please learn from our troubles and do the following:
- Make photocopies of your birth certificate and passport pages
- Put paper copies in multiple pieces of luggage
- If you carry a laptop or tablet PC, keep electronic copies as well
On a related note, it would be a good idea to have a list of your credit card numbers and international customer service phone numbers as well. That way, if any of your cards are lost, you can report the loss right away.