Thursday, 25 October 2012

Passport Frustration

We are off on our first ever cruise THIS Saturday. It is for our whole family as a treat to celebrate 10 years of marriage. We have been saving for a year and a half. None of us have ever experienced cruising but many folks highly recommended it for families - as the kids have their own program and mum and dad get a rest from the usual 'playground duty' marking all other holidays.

We are also taking my mum. She wants to cruise but my father refuses. We needed an extra cabin (the curse of being a 5 person family) and so she is sharing with my eldest son.

We are off from Brisbane to Noumea, Lifou and Vila for 7 nights. We have been growing excited each month, week and now we are down to single digit days. 

But on Monday I hit a HUGE snag! 

My job this week was to fill out the online cruise personaliser for everyone. That means emergency contacts and passport information. Everyone else's information was entered in successfully.  The problem arose with mine. I was given a 'small' message telling me that my passport did not meet the 6 month valid period after returning from an overseas destination. 
I thought I had done the calculations correctly back in August when I sorted out passports for the kids. It does not expire until April 15th 2013. It turns out I will be 15 days SHORT! Nooooooooo!

I panicked. Of course I would. This was Monday. We were 5 working days out from boarding and my passport was not meeting the requirements for disembarking at the 3 overseas ports. I am meeting Gemma my 'Pretty Bobbins' quilting blog buddy in Noumea on Monday.  Our families are meeting. I get to see her fabulous quilts in the raw. She's promised us all delicious French pastries. I have a jar of golden syrup for her.  To say nothing of the other 2 destinations where we plan to snorkle and frolic. In short, I have to be able to get OFF the SHIP!

I should have called the cruise company (who subsequently told me that it would be ok to travel under the circumstances - grrrr!), but they specifically state that all passport matters are my responsibility. The little message at the bottom of the page did not ask me to call the cruise company. It should.

So I rang the Australian Passport office. They were very helpful. Apparently LOTS of people make this mistake. Many who are at the airport and cannot board their flights. 
BUT my issue was TIME. It takes 2 days to post it to Sydney and 2 days to process and 2 days to post back! So we came up with an alternate plan.

I filled out an online renewal form. Took it to the local Post Office who took my new photo and processed the forms before popping them in a FAST delivery envelope to the BRISBANE office. Hopefully it will be processed on WEDNESDAY and I will have to pick it up in PERSON from the city on FRIDAY. 

The day BEFORE we depart!

I am cutting it VERY FINE!

As it turns out that I need not have worried about this whole renewal. I could have saved some $344 on a Priority Renewal, $40  for photos and an express envelope. I was sooooooo cranky. And it can't be undone because the Post Office lady (as her procedures page rightly told her and btw she was VERY nice) cut the bottom section OFF my old passport making it INVALID

I'll need a good stiff drink when I finally board that ship with a valid passport.

UPDATE: I rang the Passport Office yesterday and they assured me that it will be processed and ready for collection in person on Friday. Yay!

Onto more pleasant passport matters.

Passport Holder

I did buy a pattern from online Etsy seller, One Shabby Chic. And I was going to make the 6 pocket version about a week ago. But as I was thinking about the pattern I was toying with the idea of a zipper instead of a clasp. So I got out my Zakka Style book and looked at the pattern for the Zip Organiser.

Then I got out the zip organiser and admired its construction and wondered how on earth I could redesign both patterns to get what I wanted. I looked at the measurements and requirements. Rats! I had no zip long enough for the Passport pattern.

Then I had a brainwave! I took all the passports out of their plastic covers just to see if they would fit in my Rapunzel Zip Organiser - and voila - they fit in perfectly! The zip closes. 

I have found a better use for my Zakka Project and I saved time not making a new Passport Holder.

Do you have a Passport story? A good one? A bad one? Let me know and I won't feel so alone in my stupidity. Feel free to berate me.


  1. You definitely should take that stiff drink when you are on board...
    My story: I was around 15 years old, and my Dad drove my brothers and me from Mexico City to McAllen, Texas, US on a shopping trip. Yay!! After the 2 day trip, we arrived to the border gate and the officer told my Dad that my Visa was expired!!! I was about to cry. Handing my Passport to my Dad, the officer said he wil let me in provided I didn't go out until we were all ready to go back to Mexico! I wanted to kiss the man (probably did!).

  2. Oh, I am glad that you were able to resolve this. We leave on a cruise in a week and I am just hoping that no one loses a passport!

    One good story though, on my last trip overseas I got held up at my airport and the TSA person took awhile. I really started to get nervous. Finally, the man came back to say that I was born 2 years before him and there was no way I looked young like his daughter. That made me feel good!

  3. What a drama you didn't need!! So jealous you are meeting with Gemma, have a blast XX

  4. Hope you have a wonderful holiday after this weeks dramas!

  5. What a harrowing story! I hope you enjoy your cruise, especially after all the drama.

  6. Hope everything works out just fine for you. Enjoy your trip.

    What's up with the "has to be valid for 6 months after your trip ends", anyway? I'm US but had the same requirement when I went to India. What's the point of the expiration date if you can't use it the last 6 months? I've got to remember to get mine renewed soon. I think it expires next year.

    1. Good question Barbara. They should not charge us for the last 6 months eh?

  7. So glad that it looks like it's all resolved! You need the holiday just to recuperate from the dreadful passport drama! So frustrating!

    But I'm sure you will have the most fabulous trip!!

  8. What a nightmare! I did wonder how you were ending up in Noumea for a meetup and now its clear! Have a wonderful, relaxing time!

  9. Fiona! What cruise ship / company are you taking? Me and Mr. Sparkles have been contemplating a cruise! Why wait until the cruise to start drinking? Go for it girl!

    1. It's with P & O out of Brisbane on the Pacfic Dawn. It is our closest port. I think I'll wait until I clear customs with my fresh new passport before I hit the drink though Josh. Not sure if I should tempt fate again...hehehe.

  10. That 6 month thing is kinda weird! I got my first passport EVER two years ago so we could go to Mexico! We did make a trip to Niagara four months prior to our Mexico trip! So I have gotten to use it twice! Is that 6 month thing true for all passports I wonder? I am not a very well traveled gal! Lol I would have though an expiration is an expiration! I am glad you got it sorted out ! Have a fun and safe trip!


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