I found the article! http://www.dockwalk.com/Essentials/H....aspx?id=30028
A quote: "Queen of Visa Applications” Laurence Thary, yacht agent at Catalano Shipping, Monaco, insists a Seaman’s Book helps her when she is negotiating with the authorities. “Seaman’s Books are absolutely essential for crew who do not form part of the EU and they help our work enormously. In most cases we are dealing with difficult or exceptional cases to try and help arrange visas, so all documentation you can lay your hands on is important.”
In addition to their purpose of recording sea time and the benefit of helping with visa applications, Seaman’s Books also allow for crew to travel on marine fare tickets which are often heavily discounted and fully refundable with additional luggage allowance.In addition, Thary warns that recent administrative changes in the Mediterranean now mean that customs (Les Douanes) rather than police officials are in charge of passport control at Nice airport and the “douaniers” insist on Seaman's Books for crew seeking entry.