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September 2009    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 24, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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What? On a Liveaboard With No Passport?

from the September, 2009 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

While visiting Triton Bay in Papua, Indonesia,on Grand Komodo Tours TemuKira in April, subscribers Chrisanda Button and Rickie Stern (Elkins, AR) were surprised to see a police boat appear and order the liveaboard to motor back to the village of Kaimana. We cooled our heels in the harbor for 24 hours while officials quibbled about the boats documents and the guests visas. On our way out of Triton Bay, we were again held overnight in Kaimana while officials decided whether to deport two guests with social visas. Grand Komodo handled the problem as well as possible but we lost almost two days of diving.

What happened? Were corrupt officials trying to extract money from dive operators? Grand Komodo Tours owner Reno Kirtya told us it really was a visa-related issue. Two passengers didnt have their passports with them on the boat; this was without our knowledge. They said their travel agent in Bali kept their passports to renew their visas. They had already overstayed their visit and were at risk of being deported. The officials let the TemuKira continue its itinerary but required the boat check back in with them before returning to Sorong to make sure the matter was resolved. Luckily, Grand Komodo got the agent to fax the divers passports to Kaimana.

While dive operators should ensure that all passengers have the proper documents, divers must take the responsibility to travel with valid passports and visas. In Indonesia, your passport must be valid for at least six months when you enter the country. Many countries have similar requirements. Kirtya says Americans can apply for visas on arrival at airports in Jakarta, Bali and Manado. Understand what you need before you leave home then follow the rules to save yourself and everyone else a whole bunch of hassle and dive time. And never leave your passport with someone else while youre tripping around.

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