I hope that when I look back at this post in a month or two, I’ll wonder what all the fuss was about, but until just 5 minutes ago Both Ted and I were feeling pretty stressed.
It’s November 19th. We leave our condo here in Collingwood on December 21st, and are scheduled to fly out of Toronto on December 23rd, not returning to Canada until mid May of next year.
Our vaccine passports for international air travel are updated. Our VISA credit cards are ready.
But we still have no travel visas.
Every country we’ve visited until now required nothing more than for border officials to see and potentially stamp our Canadian passports as we entered. (I was reminded recently of what an incredible privilege that has been.) Our pending world cruise is different in that several countries on our itinerary require visitor visas, even if we are only there for 2 or 3 days.
As far as I can tell, we need tourist visas in order to get off our ship in 10 of the countries we’ll be visiting: Egypt, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Oman, New Guinea, SriLanka, Turkey, and Vietnam. Plus, there are little extra details. For instance, you cannot visit Jordan or Oman if your passport has been previously stamped in Israel – but you can travel in the other direction as a tourist.
The process of obtaining the actual visas can be an arduous one, especially if (like us) you are located outside a big urban centre. Sometimes physical passports need to be submitted to the relevant country’s embassy, along with all the proper request forms, meaning you’re without your passport for a period of time. Sometimes the visa process can be completed online. Sometimes it can be done at an airport on arrival. Sometimes it can be done in port. For a cruise visiting 30-plus countries, the research into what is needed is daunting.
Fortunately, one of the inclusions on our cruise is the services of a company called GenVisa, who are looking after this for all approximately 800 passengers, whatever country’s passport they are travelling on.
We were forewarned that GenVisa would request our physical passports prior to our trip, for “processing”, but thought that was going to be way back in September. Even though a 3 month turnaround was lots of time, the concept still made both of us a bit nervous; we don’t like to have them out of our sight.
In the past 8 weeks, as our embarkation date has loomed closer and closer, we’ve been fretting more and more as no request for our passports has arrived. What if our passports don’t get back to us on time?
What changed 5 minutes ago? We got the good news via email from Viking that “it appears the only Visas that will be required are E-visas, which can be completed within 3-4 weeks and you will only need to send a passport photo, not your actual passport, for this process.”
Hooray! Off to get passport photos done…..