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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

US Makes it Easier for Cruise Passengers to Get Refunds

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

March 17, 2022

© be free / Adobe Stock

© be free / Adobe Stock

A rule change in the United States aims to make it easier for cruise ship passengers to receive refunds after their voyages have been canceled or delayed.

The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) announced on Wednesday it is amending its regulations governing "non-performance" by passenger vessel operators to establish new requirements for when cruise passengers should be provided refunds. The changes define non-performance as canceling a voyage or delaying a voyage by three or more calendar days if a passenger elects not to embark on delayed or substituted voyage.

"Hundreds of thousands of Americans enjoy taking a pleasure cruise every year. For some, these are trips of a lifetime where people have worked hard to save the cost of a ticket. Amending the Commission's regulations to provide passengers more rights and options when a cruise line has not performed is good for consumers," said Commissioner Louis E. Sola.

In addition, the Commission changed its regulations to allow passengers of delayed or canceled voyages to make direct claims against financial responsibility instruments, such as bonds, maintained by operators, after the passenger's unsuccessful attempt to receive a refund directly. The rule also makes all fees, including ancillary fees, paid by a passenger to a cruise line eligible for a refund.

The rule changes, which become effective 30 days after their publication in the Federal Register and will apply to cruises booked on and after that date, stem from recommendations Commissioner Sola made to the Commission in April 2020 following in a FMC investigation to identify commercial measures passenger cruise lines can adopt to mitigate COVID-19 related impacts.

"Consumers deserve more alternatives than the often-limiting recourses specified in a ticket contract. Updating the Commission's regulations was the proper thing to do, and these rule changes deliver more rights and remedies to the public. I support them wholeheartedly," said Chairman Daniel B. Maffei.

Trade group Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) did not immediately respond to MarineLink's request for comment.

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