Bay Area Cruise and Adventure Travel Expert Expects Changes Soon in the Wake of Costa Concordia Accident

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Travel expert of CruiseOne says passengers are likely safer on a modern cruise ship and notes that security changes on the way

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I’ve always strongly urged my cruise clients to get passports

By now the public realizes how incredibly rare incidents like the one involving the Costa Concordia are. Some cruise travel cheerleaders have gone so far as to suggest you have to go back to the Titanic to find a similar event.

“That’s more than a bit of a stretch,” according to cruise and adventure travel specialist, Steve Faber, of CruiseOne – Mill Valley. “But you do have to go back nearly 47 years to 1965 for the most recent incident, the demise of a ship called the Yarmouth Castle, which sank in Nassau harbor. That’s an exemplary safety record. You’re likely safer getting on a modern cruise ship than getting out of your own bathtub.

“But there’s no question that this will trigger a top-to-bottom security review in the industry. Obvious areas where change is anticipated – mandating lifeboat drills prior to departure, for example – have gotten lots of media play of late. However,” Faber continues, “there are security changes on the way that many travelers – even cruise regulars – may not be aware of, specifically initiatives targeting passenger tracking and documentation.”

To this day, passengers with nothing more than a birth certificate and picture I.D. have boarded cruise ships bound for ports of call in the Americas, whereas, in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, other forms of transportation that cross U.S. borders require U.S. travelers to have valid passports, as mandated by the State Department’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. For air travel, the Initiative became effective January 23, 2007. The deadline for its implementation has been stretched for the cruise lines. Passports – or their equivalents – were to have been required beginning June 1, 2009. Cruise lines were given a reprieve for what are called “closed loop” sailings, which are voyages that leave the United States, but begin and end in the same U.S. port.

In the event of a cruise industry security overhaul, the requirement of a passport or equivalent for all travel anywhere outside the United States will probably be instituted for the cruise lines sooner rather than later. When that happens, a major run on the U.S. Passport Office is almost certain, resulting in delays applying for and receiving first-time passports.

“I’ve always strongly urged my cruise clients to get passports,” says Faber. “Not only is a passport the most unassailable form of identification, it’s essential if for some reason you have to depart your cruise before its conclusion (for example to return home for a family emergency), since even from Canada, Mexico or Caribbean islands, you can’t fly back into the U.S.A. without one.

“The decision whether to get a passport or wait is a personal one, just like security when traveling abroad, which, in the final analysis, is a personal responsibility as well. That is why we provide our clients who own smartphones with a personal port-of-call customized app that has one-touch dialing to the American Embassy, the cruise line’s home office, and local emergency services in each port they will be visiting.”

About the Bay Area’s CruiseOne – Mill Valley
CruiseOne has received numerous awards and a top ranking status by all the major cruise lines. With more than 650 locations coast to coast, CruiseOne adventure travel prides itself on providing attention to detail and expert advice to every customer. Each independently owned and operated business combines the latest technology with old-fashioned customer service. Our computerized best fare search program enables cruise specialists to identify excellent values and cruise discounts on all major cruise lines. CruiseOne agents are experts in both group and individual sailings. Programs ranging from family reunions at sea and honeymoon cruises to corporate meetings, incentives and ship charters are handled courteously and professionally.

CruiseOne in the Bay Area is part of World Travel Holdings (WTH), one of the nation’s largest online and offline leisure travel companies. Each year, WTH sends millions of people around the world to warm up, cool off, explore new cultures, or just relax. Our customers plan and purchase their cruises online using industry-leading dynamic packaging technologies or offline, such as river cruises with our highly experienced cruise vacation consultants.

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Steven Faber
CruiseOne - Steve Faber
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