Or perhaps it could be a remake of another movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”.
It is a behind-the-scenes reality story about travel . . . the quest for a travel visa.
Others, like India, have a process from hell.
India sets a time frame within which you can apply for a visa – not too early and not too late before your trip. Other cruisers had left messages on user boards forewarning of the challenges ahead, but we'd thought it couldn't be 'that' bad, right?
Within days of submitting our applications The Scout and I were so frustrated, that we agreed we’d skip the visa and skip India. We'd simply stay on the ship.
|Oceania Cruise ship|
No Indian visa.
The application is a two-page on-line forms that seeks “Personal Particulars” (our education, religion, dates and places of birth); 'Passport details', 'Contact information' (where we live),'Family History' (parents names and birth places), details about countries we had previously visited, where we would visit in India and where we would stay there.
“Were your Grandfather/Grandmother (Paternal/Maternal)
Pakistan Nationals or belong to Pakistan held area?”
-- a question from the India visa application
Then the antics began . . .
Because we were working with a firm in Washington DC which handles visa processing for Oceania cruises, we packaged up our application and passports and sent them FedEx (recommended for the ability to track the package whereabouts). First mailing: $35
Two days later. . .the man at the agency who was handling our application called and said they couldn’t be submitted to the Indian Embassy, because:
* We had not included the zip code for the person we’d listed as an emergency contact – we’d given her phone number and address but ‘a zip code must be included’.And then there was the ‘problem with my passport:
* The address of the cruise ship contact in India we’d written on two lines and it had to fill all three lines of the form.
|This is my old passport that was returned with the new one. . .hmmm, two pages. . .|
So a flurry of form-filling-out activity filled yet another morning - in February. Forms, and more photos -- this time for a new passport, were sent to this Washington DC company that would handle getting my new passport. Expedited passport renewal: $300 (part of that went to the company) and Fed Ex: $35.
|They don't want you smiling either - no problem by that point|
So back for more photos. Packet sent to Fed Ex: $35.
Two days later . . .”our man in Washington” called. He’d found a typo in one of our passport numbers on the application – India doesn’t allow any ink marks on the pages so he couldn’t correct it, we would need to complete the form again and resubmit it. Fed Ex: $35
Finally, ‘our man in Washington’ sent our passports and applications to the Indian Embassy in San Francisco to be reviewed. Our passports complete with India visas were returned two weeks ago.
Whew! We can now board the ship.
However, we haven’t yet decided if we will get off in India or not.
Tips on Travel visas:
* If you are considering a cruise or land tour check to see how many countries you’ll be visiting require visas. How involved is the application process?
*How much will they cost? Does the cruise line or tour company pay the cost or do you?
* Does the cruise line or tour company provide a company to handle the application process or are you on your own in dealing with – or finding – embassies that issue visas?
*If you are about to grab a great last-minute deal, do you have time to obtain the visa?
*Check your passport expiration date and number of pages you have left. Ask about ‘blank page’ requirements.
*For those renewing or obtaining U.S. passports, you now have an option to get a super-sized one with 54 pages at no extra cost (if you are traveling a lot to foreign countries, you’ll want to get it).
Thanks for your time! We will lighten up the subject matter next week when we show you the gem we found in Central Washington State! Until then safe travels where ever you go.
Do you have any visa experiences - good or bad to share here? Please leave a comment below or shoot us an email and we'll share them for you.
We are linking up this week with an amazing group of bloggers at:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening