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FMC Rule Change Will Provide More Rights to Refunds for Cancelled or Delayed Cruises

The Federal Maritime Commission is amending its regulations governing non-performance by Passenger Vessel Operators (PVO/cruise lines) and establishing new requirements for when cruise passengers should be provided refunds for cancelled or delayed voyages.

“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.  I am grateful for the trust my fellow Commissioners placed in me to lead Fact Finding 30 and for their support in expanding consumer protections,” said Commissioner Louis E. Sola.

The changes define non-performance as cancelling a voyage or delaying a voyage by three or more calendar days if a passenger elects not to embark on delayed or substituted voyage offered by a PVO.  The Commission also changed its regulations to allow passengers of delayed or cancelled voyages to make direct claims against financial responsibility instruments, such as bonds, maintained by PVOs, after the passenger’s unsuccessful attempt to receive a refund directly from the PVOs.  Finally, the rule allows all fees, including ancillary fees, paid by a passenger to a PVO be eligible for a refund.

“I applaud the hard work of Commissioner Sola on Fact Finding 30 and his identifying these needed changes to Commission regulations.  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.

The changes become effective 30 days after their publication in the Federal Register and will apply to cruises booked on and after that date.

The rule change stems from recommendations Commissioner Sola made to the Commission in April 2020 he identified as part of work as a Fact Finding Officer for Fact Finding 30 Investigation, “COVID-19 Impact on Cruise Industry.”