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Fact Finding 30 Investigation Focusing on Cruise Line Financial Responsibility and Refund Policies

Examining issues related to how cruise lines meet financial responsibility requirements and the lines’ policies related to ticket refunds are becoming the key focal points of the Fact Finding 30 Investigation “COVID-19 Impact on the Cruise Industry” being led by Commissioner Louis E. Sola.

Commissioner Sola said his interactions and inquiries to date have led him to focus his investigation along three distinct lines of inquiry:

  • Financial Responsibility—To be issued a certificate necessary to operate a vessel, cruise lines must file a copy of a bond or other security with the Commission. Commissioner Sola will examine how effective these financial instruments are and if they are funded at sufficient levels.
  • Refunds—What are the policies of each individual line and are there changes in government regulations or industry practices that would bring the cruise industry into parity with other sectors selling transportation and hospitality services.
  • Ports & Port Related Industries—How are the businesses that rely on providing services to PVOs being impacted by COVID-19 related impacts to the industry.

Fact Finding 30 was established by Commission vote on April 30, 2020. Over the past three weeks, Commissioner Sola has conducted numerous interviews with individuals representing interests related to the themes of his investigation. Commissioner Sola reports he has already had discussions with port authorities, municipal governments, insurance companies, U.S. flag passenger vessel operators, and harbor pilots among others.

No single federal agency has exclusive or comprehensive authority over cruise lines. The Federal Maritime Commission’s jurisdiction over the cruise industry is found at 46 U.S.C. chap. 441, the most relevant provision of which is related to the financial responsibilities of cruise lines for nonperformance of transportation. These provisions apply to companies operating vessels with 50 or more berths that embark passengers at locations in the United States. As part of its industry monitoring and competition enforcement efforts under the Shipping Act of 1984, the Commission also pays close attention to developments related to port and marine terminal operator sectors.