On Aug. 6, my spouse, my two kids and I arrived on the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal to board the MSC Meraviglia for a weeklong cruise that included a cease within the Bahamas. I’m a scientist in the US on a piece visa and awaiting my inexperienced card, so I adopted my lawyer’s directions and offered my Chinese language passport and my “combo card” — an American doc that grants immigrants in my state of affairs permission each to work in the US and to journey overseas. However MSC Cruises refused to let me board, saying the cardboard didn’t assure I’d be readmitted to the nation when the boat returned to Brooklyn. I quickly met two different would-be vacationers in the identical, er, boat: Fadia, a 79-year-old Egyptian grandmother set to board with 19 kinfolk and mates, and Nargis, a Bangladeshi girl able to cruise together with her husband. After hours of pleading our case, even getting Fadia’s immigration lawyer to talk to employees by telephone, we had been all despatched dwelling. MSC refunded me about $500 in charges and taxes, however I’m nonetheless owed about $2,300 for the cruise fare for my household of 4. Nargis and her husband have additionally not been reimbursed, nor have Fadia and her son (who stayed behind together with her whereas the remainder of the group sailed). Are you able to assist? Heng, New Haven, Conn.

I don’t must let you know how advanced immigration regulation is, however let’s get everybody else up to the mark on the way it impacts cruise journey. Earlier than ships can help you board, they have to confirm that every one passengers have enough documentation to re-enter the nation on the finish of the cruise. If the cruise firm screws up, they face steep penalties from the federal Customs and Border Safety company. (The identical guidelines maintain for airways.)

That’s why they usually err on the facet of warning, with the stress on this case on “err.”

MSC Cruises stated it should refund all three households and supply every a credit score towards a future cruise. In a press release, Area Sutton, the director of communications for the American division of MSC Cruises, wrote:

“A number of visitors who had been booked to sail on MSC Meraviglia’s Aug. 6 departure from New York Metropolis had been unable to board the ship attributable to a misunderstanding over the paperwork they supplied for worldwide journey. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience.”

It seems that in all three circumstances, the terminal employees was flummoxed by that “combo card,” a doc the dimensions of a driver’s license that the US supplied you and another immigrants in anticipation of inexperienced playing cards, for which the appliance course of can take years.

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