lost passport in tallinn, estonia

What a day yesterday turned out to be. I’m telling myself that the tale I’m about to tell is what makes travel fun, exciting and unforgettable!

If you’ve been keeping up with my previous posts, you know that my boyfriend John and I are sailing on Seabourn Sojourn right now. The 12-day itinerary is as follows: Copenhagen – Stockholm – Helsinki – St. Petersburg – Tallinn – Szcezcin – Warnemünde – Copenhagen. I’ve been to Helsinki before but I’m totally pumped about the six other destinations.

So …

We docked in Tallinn, Estonia yesterday and we were getting ready to do a bike tour. I wasn’t keen on the idea because I haven’t ridden a bike since I was like 12. But, it’s what we’d signed up to do and I’d decided to suck it up and give it a try. Turns out – riding a bike is just like … riding a bike.

Because we’re riding bikes, I can’t bring a bag to hold any of my things. So I’ve got my ship ID card and my passport stuffed into the back pocket of my jeans. We’d been told three times that we MUST have our passports when we go ashore and I’m all about abiding by the rules. The Russians in St. Petersburg weren’t messing around when it came to passports and visas and I didn’t want to take my chances in Tallinn. Maybe the Estonians also feel that Siberia is a good place to sit in a corner and think about what you’ve done.

We rode our bikes for about 40 minutes, then stopped for a break at a local cafe. At which point I realized my passport is missing. Needless to say, I FREAK out. The lovely girl who was leading the bike tour offered to retrace our entire ride and look for my passport. She’s insistent despite my protestations. She goes and comes back sans passport.

To be honest, I wasn’t TOO worried about it. We go back to the ship and I proudly produce an array of identification that I’m positive will simplify the process. Ta-daaaaaaa! I whip out my last passport (I had to cancel it about a month ago because it was full but technically, it wasn’t going to expire for another year) AND a photocopy of my current passport. I’ve got a driver’s license and my ship ID card, which has my photo AND my passport number on it. Besides – I’m Canadian. That’s gotta count for something, right?

Reporting my lost passport to Guest Services on Seabourn Sojourn. I’m not too worried yet.

The staff on Seabourn Sojourn were amazing and everyone jumped on the situation to help out. Phone calls were being made to the embassy, the police department. It looked like everything was going to get sorted out tout de suite. I was so calm, I sat back and ordered a cup of tea in one of the ship’s many lounges. I even contemplated having a brownie.

The ship’s Purser and Guest Services Manager are amazing as they help me to sort out the mess I’ve gotten myself into.

Then the bad news came. I can’t sail without documents. Seabourn staff regretfully inform me that without valid travel documents, I cannot remain on the ship and I most certainly won’t be allowed entry into Poland, our next stop. They tell me I’m going to have to disembark in Tallinn and figure out what to do next. Hopefully, they say, the Canadian embassy can help me get temporary travel documents so I can catch up with the ship in Poland or Germany.

John and I packed up our stuff and raced to the Canadian embassy. We left some of our stuff on the ship, assuming we’d be back at some point.

Leaving the ship to head to the Canadian embassy, I bump into some new friends and stop to tell them what’s happened.

We got to the embassy and the girl working there is expecting me. She’s already been called several times by the ship’s people to find out what my options are. I’m so hopeful that she can issue me some kind of documents immediately so that John and I can get back on the ship before it sets sail again in three hours. (The ship’s captain was so kind he said he’d hold the ship an extra hour for us!) Unfortunately, the girl at the embassy was showing no sign of urgency because she knew she couldn’t help me in time for us to get back on the ship. She said the only solution she could offer was to issue emergency travel documents (that wouldn’t be ready for 24 hours) and that would only be valid for me to fly directly home. Do not stop. Do not pass GO. Just straight home to Canada. Without my passport, I cannot stay in Europe and she won’t be able to provide any kind of documentation that will allow me to fly anywhere to catch up with the ship.

Inside the Canadian embassy in Tallinn, Estonia.

So now things really weren’t looking good. John and I will have to get back to the ship to pick up the things we left, then find a place to stay in Tallinn for the night and then book a flight directly home for me. I started to cry because I was upset and all stressed out and this unexpected twist of events was going to cost a lot of money. The girl from the embassy said she’d try calling the police station one last time and then I would have to tell her what I wanted to do – although I had no choice, really. She would have to issue me emergency travel documents and I’d have to call it a day. Back home for me.

I was looking for a Kleenex because the sleeve of my sweatshirt was no longer sufficing when she reappeared and said that someone must be watching over me. The police reported that someone had just that moment turned my passport in. She kindly arranged a car to take us to the police station and then back to the ship.

Reunited with my passport at the police station in Tallinn. Just in time for me to get back on the ship before she sails again!

I only wish I knew who it was that found my passport, where they found it and how I could get in contact with them to let them know how much I appreciate their act of kindness. Returning my passport to the police station when they did was the difference between a great vacation and one that would have ended rather abruptly and disappointingly. When my passport was reported found at the last minute, it was like the impossible had happened. So perhaps it’s no less impossible that the person who found it will read this blog post. And if that’s the case, an enormous, most heartfelt thank you! Now I know exactly what I’ll do if I ever stumble upon someone’s lost identification.

sailing on seabourn sojourn

It just doesn’t get any better than this. Delicious food. Inimitable service. Spectacular sunsets that wish you good night. This photo is of the sun setting over the Baltic Sea. I don’t think I ever want to get off this ship.  Image courtesy of JohnnyJet.com.

video: pack smart

I just boarded Seabourn’s incredible new ship Sojourn. I’m traveling for two full weeks and need a variety of clothing options – casual summer clothes, warm clothes for cold days, dresses for dinner, high heels, flip flops and even gym clothes and running shoes – travelling on a Seabourn ship means you’ll be indulging in the most delicious gourmet food at every turn, so hitting the treadmill is essential! In this video, I’ll show you how I was able to pack everything I needed and still travel with carry-on only.