Cruise Tales – 2015 South and East Caribbean #6: In Search of Passport Stamps

My new passport arrived in the mail a few weeks before our Caribbean cruise. I needed to renew it as my old one was set to expire right in the middle of our cruise on the day we were in Curacao. I wouldn’t want to get stuck in Curacao now, would I? The new passport was all fresh and pristine. But so was my old passport. I used it several times over the past ten years, but it was never stamped by authorities. Not in Canada. Not in the Bahamas. Not in any Caribbean islands. We set a goal for this trip – to get our passport stamped in all four destinations that were foreign countries – Aruba, Curacao, St. Lucia and St. Kitts. The U.S. Virgin Islands was not in play.

After two days at sea we arrived in Aruba. We inquired at the Visitors’ Information Desk as to where passports were stamped and were directed toward a door which read, ‘Immigration.’ Before we knew it our passports were stamped by a friendly Aruban with an official ‘Aruba Migracion’ stamp and the date. That was easy. It was our first passport stamp of the trip – yea!

The next morning the Norwegian Pearl sailed into Curacao. We started again at the Visitors’ Information Desk. It worked once – why not again? The instructions were the same as in Aruba – to head to the ‘Immigration’ door. But it wasn’t so easy. Immigration directed us the security checkpoint. But that was only stop number three as security sent us to another room were we finally got our passports stamped. This one was much more ‘touristy’ as it read, ‘I was in Curacao – Real Different!!!’

Following a day at sea we were in beautiful St. Lucia and on a quest for our third passport stamp. This was the day that Jill was not allowed off of the ship due to her stomach bug, so I was on my own. Upon disembarking I found out that I needed to go downtown to accomplish my goal, so that is where I went. I walked about a half mile around a cove and was in the bustling downtown area. I asked a resident about passport stamping and was directed toward their immigration office. ‘Go to that big, blue building. Take a left and it is about two streets down on the left.’

I took a little detour to visit a cathedral and then got basically in the right direction. I stopped and must have looked perplexed as a local woman, who was walking with her elementary school age daughter asked if I needed help. ‘Yes, I do.’ After I explained my goal she started giving directions and then said, ‘Follow me.’ I asked her name and that of her daughter. ‘I am Naomi and this is Marcella.’ It was only a minute or two and we were at the correct building, though she wasn’t sure which floor. ‘Come up these steps,’ she directed as we quickly went up six stories. ‘Now go down on your left.’ ‘Thank you so much,’ I said gratefully and she was gone. The immigration official stamped a bold, ‘Saint Lucia, Port Castries,’ and I was three quarters of the way to completion.

Our final foreign stop in St. Kitts led as usual to the Visitors’ Information Desk. ‘Head through that door,’ a local man instructed me. ‘You mean the one that says, ‘No Trespassing?’’ I didn’t feel too good about that. ‘It’s okay. That is just an old sign. Go through the door and to the right.’ I had Jill with me, so at least we would both be in the slammer. But all was well. There was a quite surly lady who stamped the passport with ‘Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis Immigration Office.’ It was in red ink – a new color! Four foreign countries. Four passport stamps. We look forward to filling up our books in the upcoming years.


About garyscohen

Gary Cohen is an enthusiast for the sport of running including magazine/essay writing, blogging, interviews, coaching, public speaking, leading trail runs in Central Florida and announcing at track meets.
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