By: Ron Pradinuk
The winter booking season is clearly in full swing as prices and product from tour operators who fly southbound passengers from Manitoba are finalized.
Likewise, the nature of questions I receive are starting to relate to issues which are more about winter-based destinations than the usual inquiries I get relating to worldwide travel interests.
QUESTION: Can you explain why all cruise lines require your passport to expire six months after the cruise ends? This obviously will usually require an early renewal with a loss of at least six months of your passport.
It seems very unreasonable and I cannot figure out the reason for it.
ANSWER: The reason is because the cruise lines standardize the expiry requirement because of the wide variety of entry mandates of the many ports of call they visit.
Each country you choose to visit may have a different term for which your passport must be valid in order to enter the country.
A requirement for six months after your scheduled return date is not uncommon.
Just following an ABC list of countries Argentina, Bolivia, and China all have the requirement of a passport that is six months beyond the date of your expected departure.
While many countries may be less, the cruise ship is obligated to follow the rules of each country where it lands in order to allow passengers to get off the ship to shop and sightsee.
By fixing the date at six months they eliminate the tedious, and potentially error prone, work of customizing passport requirements for each itinerary.
To find out the passport expire requirement of the countries you may be interested in visiting go to www.voyage.gc.ca Select your country and then simply scroll down to the section addressing entry requirements.
It will also show which require visas in addition to passports in order to gain entry.
QUESTION: I have a question about whether the insurance available through the RBC Visa Infinite Avion card is OK to use for travel insurance to go to the U.S.A. for a weekend. RBC says their coverage is just as good and therefore I don’t need to purchase insurance from the other company I’ve used in the past. Your help would be greatly appreciated.
ANSWER: Indeed the travel insurance available to you through your RBC Infinite card is very much like the insurance sold by travel agencies through RBC travel insurance.
However, like any other insurance policy, as discussed in previous columns, you need to make certain you answer all questions accurately and completely. If you have pre-existing conditions they must be explained to make sure you fall within their required period of stability.
But once you follow the normal procedures as required you should not need to have duplicate coverage with a second insurer, as you have been doing in the past.
For a long time banks were not allowed to be in the insurance business. A few years ago the rules changed and travel insurance has become an area where they found significant new revenues could be earned.
QUESTION: In all that I have read on the BP oil spill I have not read anything on my question. Is there any concern with the oil making its way down to the Mayan/Caribbean coasts to affect these winter holiday destinations? Starting to think about booking a winter holiday and don’t want to be swimming in oil!
ANSWER: I feel the situation in the Gulf region is at least starting to clarify itself.
Recent reports seem to indicate the flow of oil may actually be permanently capped. Other reports I have read have indicated that, while no one is entirely sure why, the oil that has spilled out seems to be dissipating in the water, with less and less of it landing on the beaches.
This may not say much about the survival of ocean species, which scientists seem to think could be affected for a very long time.
However, it does seem to speak to the issue you are most concern about.
I am not sure anyone can say what will happen over the coming months. Logic would suggest that sooner or later these oil slicks must land somewhere, and ocean currents are supposed to be at least somewhat predictable.
While I think the ecological damage will be huge, the size of the waters around the gulf region may allow the beaches to escape at least somewhat unscathed.
In the research I have done I have not been able to find a conclusive answer that might provide you the comfort level you would prefer.
Recognizing that my scientific credentials are nonexistent, I believe as you move further and further from the actual BP spill site, the risks of beach damage diminish.