It was billed as a chance to taste the “glitz and glamour” of Hollywood or enjoy VIP treatment in some of the most exclusive shopping areas in the world....But when a group of 2,000 elderly British cruise ship passengers docked at Los Angeles for a short stop-off during a five-star cruise around America it was, in the words of one of them, more like arriving at Guantanamo Bay.
During their £10,000, two-and-a-half month “Alaska Adventure” tour from the Arctic to the Caribbean, the passengers on the luxury P&O liner Arcadia had become more than accustomed to passing US immigration with little formality.....By the time they docked at Los Angeles on May 26, for a one-day visit it was their 10th stop on US soil.
But when a handful of them questioned whether the lengthy security checks at the port were strictly necessary for a group of largely elderly travellers officials were not amused.
Although they had already been given advance clearance for multiple entries to the country during their trip, all 2,000 passengers were made to go through full security checks in a process which took seven hours to complete....The fingerprints of both hands were taken as well as retina scans and a detailed check of the passport as well as questioning as to their background.
Passengers claim that the extra checks were carried out in “revenge” for what had been a minor spat over allegedly overzealous security....They complain that they were “herded like animals” and made to stand for hours in temperatures up to 80F with no food or water or access to lavatories.
Some are said to have passed out in the heat while others were left confused and bewildered.