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Statement of Commissioner Louis E. Sola on the Launch of Fact Finding 30

A few months ago we awoke to a new reality in America as we faced an invisible enemy that has restricted our movement, taken the lives of loved ones, and dealt a blow to our economy.

In keeping with its mission, the Federal Maritime Commission has studied the strengths and weaknesses of the international supply chain and most recently has begun to address COVID-19 related impacts to the cargo delivery system.  It has been determined that as the Commission has examined concerns related to the cargo side of the shipping industry, we should also examine the impact of this pandemic on passenger vessel operators.  Consequently, the Commission has issued Fact Finding 30 instructing me to initiate a fact-finding mission to identify commercial solutions to COVID-19-related issues that interfere with the operation of the cruise industry and to explore where and how this Commission might facilitate changes that will benefit both consumer and cruise line.

The cruise industry plays a unique role in the American economy. The industry’s broad national, interdependent supply chain of U.S. companies encompasses ports, travel agents, airlines, hotels, retailers, and farmers. Collectively, its direct supply chain spends billions of dollars in the United States annually. The cruise industry is also an important contributor to the financial health of seaports across the country through the payment of port fees covering berthing, security, customs and immigration, harbor pilotage, and other port logistical services such as longshore labor.

I shall be working with the various stakeholders to determine what, in addition to those issues addressed by my fellow Commissioners, should be examined to help ensure fairness and efficiency.  I intend to examine issues such as canceled sailings and delayed debarkations to determine where and if this Commission can act to facilitate a fair and equitable position between the passenger and the cruise line.

Louis E. Sola is a Commissioner with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.