Not much time left and anxiety levels are rising. While Regent covers the cost of visas as a part of our cruise cost, we must complete the application process for them, something that we did not initially realize the extent of.
In late October, we got an email from Regent that we must complete our Brazilian visa. I went to the link and got access to the form and then the frustration with the Brazilian visa application began. The questions were in depth, even asking about our parents’ names and nationality. They wanted to know about our financial situation and required a credit report and copy of a bank statement to prove sufficient funds. They wanted a copy of our travel itinerary as proof of our travel arrangements. We needed to provide a copy of our driver’s licenses and submit our original passports with the application. But most specific of all was the addition of a photograph of ourselves. This passport type photo must be digitally included with the electronic visa filing and must be specifically within the defined size/dimension parameters. This process took days. The Brazil online application would not accept my attempts to upload a photo. The horizontal and vertical dimensions or the file size did not comply. I tried taking a picture of an extra copy of our passport photos as well as taking new self-portraits against our old projector white screen. I used several different digital cameras and adjusted the image quality settings as low as possible to get the file size under their incredibly low file size, 350 KB, if I remember correctly. After several frustrating days, I finally got all the dimensions within the software’s edit parameters, so I could submit our two visa applications.
But the saga continues. Two days later, I got a phone call from CIBT, Regent’s representative, advising me that the photos included in the electronic filing were too poor a quality. I told him that the requirements of the filing specified a file size limit that would result in a very poor quality picture, hence I faced a Catch-22. The representative very nicely asked that I send a higher quality photo of ourselves to him and he would make it work. At this point, I now had to assemble all the required documents to send to the consulate; a hard copy printout of our online application (why? If they already had it online?), the passport photo we had taken for this application that needed to be glued to the paper application, copies of the drivers’ licenses, copy of a bank statement and credit report summary for each of us, copy of Regent’s travel itinerary showing the days we would be in their country, and our actual U.S. Passports. Based on the instructions on the Brazilian visa website, I mailed the package by certified mail to the Brazilian Consulate in New York City in early November, asking for expedited processing since our travel would begin in about 60 days. Several days later, the NYC Brazilian Consulate called to tell me they could not process our visa applications, because we lived in Massachusetts. Seems that Massachusetts has a Brazilian consulate which should handle this paperwork. This information was not disclosed anywhere in the application process. NYC forwarded the package to Boston. Finally, two weeks later our passports were returned with the visas attached. We thought our visa work was done. Wrong. Recently, we got email notice from Regent that we had to apply for an Australian Visa, which was another misinterpretation on our part. Fortunately, this was a very easy one-page online application.
We just got our ticket package and noticed that we should call the luggage service. There is a weight limit of 100lbs per person on pre-shipped luggage. We set a pickup date for December 21 since the last date they would pick up for our cruise departure was the December 22.
We decided to get some foreign currency for selected countries where we would be touring for many days, such as New Zealand, Australia, French Polynesia, Malaysia, South Africa and Brazil. We intend to use this for incidentals, tips, and trinkets. If we need more, we will use the onboard exchange services, when available.
Until the next update,
Yours in travel,
Pat & Mac