Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…not cruising

Poland and Cyprus nearly didn’t happen. While in Inverness we booked a cruise that would’ve cut both of those out — leaving from Italy, heading through the Med, over the Atlantic, round the tip of South America, across to New Zealand and then stopping in Australia.

It was an exciting looking trip, lasting a couple of months and costing around eight grand. My partner called up the travel agent and booked it all. She asked about visas and he told her no one ever had problems with those, so we confirmed and felt happy about the upcoming cruise.

Not normally a worrier, I thought it probably best if we checked the visa situation. We were going to a lot of countries and it would be rubbish if not getting into one meant we couldn’t go: cruise ships won’t allow you to skip a country and just stay on the boat in case there’s an emergency, mainly. For my UK passport everything was fine. For her Australian passport there was a problem: she needed to be in Canberra to apply for a visa to get into Brazil.

Normally this isn’t a problem, but if you’re in the Scottish Highlands and your cruise is leaving southern Europe in less than a fortnight it cuts things rather close, and makes them rather expensive. The other problem was that if you cancelled the cruise within a fortnight of sailing date you didn’t get your money back.

In a panic we called back the travel agent. The guy we’d spoken to before was at lunch and, speaking to his boss, we found out that the lazy sod had nipped off for a sandwich before going through with the arduous process of actually booking our cruise (actually the three we were linking together). She said she’d leave him a note and tell him not to book them and then everything would be okay.

Around half an hour later a stream of e-mails started to come into my girlfriend’s inbox, pretty much all along the same lines: congratulations, your cruise is booked!

Going from worried, to panicked to relieved, we were now distraught or aghast or angry. What was this guy doing? We called back, worried that our money was gone for good because of his actions and explained what had happened. Hadn’t he seen the message from his boss? “Oh, yes, I see that now.”

To cut down on the boring transcript of the next few conversations, everything turned out okay. Because the bank or the company or something was American, and they weren’t awake yet, the orders hadn’t been accepted on the other side. Our guy would simply leave them a message not to process the orders and everything would be okay. What would possibly go wrong with that?

As it turns out, nothing. The tickets were cancelled/not actually booked and we didn’t lose a lot of money. We also didn’t get to go on an amazing trip. Brazilians, you should let Australians visit. I’m sure they won’t set up a terrible Nuava Australia like they did in Paraguay.

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Filed under: annoyances

3 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    I don’t know why (rapey Spanish connection?), but Brazil and a lot of South American places are welcoming and visa-free to people from my girlfriend’s country, despite most of the rest of the world hating her guts. Unfortunately, she/they are only interested in seeing the countries that don’t want them, since they can see poverty and guns at home.

    That cruise doesn’t sound bad at all. I probably pay about half of that just staying in high-end-of-low hotels and eating at nice places in Thailand and Indonesia resorts.

    • Oliver says:

      The other day I read a Pico Iyer story from Paraguay written in about 1990. He made it sound so terrible that I really want to go.

      That cruise would’ve been an amazing one. My hope is that one day I’ll do a round-the-world cruise, but they often go for about $27,000 a person.

  2. Jemma Porter says:

    While writing about the world cup for numerous clients I learned that Brazil has a reciprocal visa agreement. So if Australia are strict about letting Brazilians in, Brazil will be strict about letting Aussies in. Clearly the Philippines are welcoming to Brazilians, hence why Brazil is welcoming to people from the Philippines. TYL, boys!

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