Tim and Eve Colley booked a 30-day voyage with Oceania Cruises, which departed in October last year – their dream holiday. Part of their cruise included calls to exotic locations around the Middle East and India – many requiring visas.
So when they booked, Oceania Cruises informed Mr and Mrs Colley that they would be handling visas for three of the countries that they would be visiting.
The Coffs Harbour couple, who have sailed with Oceania Cruises before, said in the past, they had never had any troubles with the line informing them or organising their visas.
While some lines stipulate in their terms and conditions prior to departure that passengers would need to organise their own visas, the Colleys and a dozen other guests thought Oceania would handle the paperwork for entry into India.
But they hadn’t. And when it was discovered that the group didn’t have the paperwork, they were asked to disembark and told they would have to pay for accommodation.
While Mr Colley acknowledges that he was more than happy to get his own visas, the line had a duty of care to its passengers.
“When officials looked at our passports in Dubai before the ship was set to sail to India, we were told that we were not allowed to stay on the ship or go on any shore excursions in India.
“We were told that it was our responsibility to make the arrangements. The situation was extremely upsetting and Oceania let us down. I received emails regularly from the line, but never have I been advised that I was required to procure visas for my wife and myself.”
Mr Colley said the group had to find two nights’ accommodation in Muscat, e-Tourist visas, a flight and a night’s accommodation in Mumbai before they were able to re-join the ship.
Mr Colley who is a survivor of throat cancer, and Mrs Colley, who recently had a pacemaker implant, said they were extremely worried and distressed, when left stranded in Muscat.
“The line has a duty of care and what Oceania did was a dereliction of their duty of care to their customers. It was a monumental cockup and I hope no-one else ever has to go through the experience that we had.”
Oceania Cruises terms and conditions say, “Oceania Cruises accepts no responsibility for obtaining required visas or for advising guests of visa or for advising guests of visa or other immigration requirements beyond the guidelines indicated.”
A spokesperson from the Department and Foreign Affairs and Trade said cruise lines are usually organised and will check the passport validity and visa requirements for each passenger.
The spokesperson said that if a situation like this arises, the staff will ask the passengers to remain onboard the ship.
“Cruise passengers should read and subscribe to the travel advisories for all countries of disembarkation. This will provide information on travelling conditions and other requirements, including visas. Passengers should also see the detailed information on cruising that is contained in the Travelling by boat page on the Smartraveller website.”
A spokesperson from Oceania Cruises said the line would be issuing a statement shortly.
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