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Commission Advisory for Cruise Passengers – June 17, 2020

Posted

The Federal Maritime Commission is aware passenger cruise lines have canceled or postponed numerous voyages, chiefly attributable to a “No Sail Order” issued by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) as well as some cruise lines ending their 2020 season on a voluntary basis.

This advisory seeks to provide information to affected consumers and those individuals who have bookings for future cruise voyages.

Certain Cruise Lines Have Granted Temporary Relief from Ticket Terms & Conditions

Consumers should be aware that the terms and conditions expressed in the ticket contract are what bind the cruise line(s) to any obligations or responsibilities in making restitution or compensation for a voyage that does not take place.

Many cruise lines have instituted short term exceptions to their policies for cruise dates that fell within the “No Sail” period in order to provide refunds to consumers whose cruises were canceled or postponed. The No Sail Order began on March 14, 2020, and will expire on July 24, 2020, unless extended.

If consumers are scheduled to cruise in the coming months, they should contact the cruise line to determine what changes have been made to refund and credit policies as well as when any temporary policies will expire.

Future Cruise Dates

Individuals who have booked cruise voyages in the timeframe past the current expiration of the No Sail Order (July 24, 2020) need to pay careful attention to the terms and conditions of their ticket contract.

Any questions related to the policies of a cruise line should be directed to either the cruise line or the travel agent through which the cruise was booked.

If cruise passengers purchased travel insurance, they should contact the insurance provider to determine what options they might have under the specific policy purchased, terms and conditions vary.

Consumers should be aware that once the No Sail Order has been lifted, individual cruise lines will be free to resume operations if they elect to do so. Consumers should also know that once cruise operations begin again, absent a change in the policies of an individual cruise line, the passenger will be bound by the terms and conditions set forth in the ticket contract applicable on the date of booking.

Services Provided by the Federal Maritime Commission

For consumers who have exhausted their efforts in addressing complaints via the cruise line or a travel agent, the Federal Maritime Commission may be able to provide assistance through its alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program.

The Federal Maritime Commission’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services (CADRS) offers free ADR services and participation is voluntary. Each party, including cruise lines, cannot be compelled to agree to the ADR process.

Because CADRS’ alternative dispute resolution program is limited to cruise voyages where passengers board in the United States, consumers should confirm before contacting CADRS that they are seeking assistance with a voyage that embarked in the United States.

Consumers should also be aware:

  • The Commission cannot order a cruise line to make a refund to a passenger when a passenger decides not to travel.
  • The Commission cannot order a cruise line to expedite the request for a refund.
  • The Commission cannot order a cruise line to issue a refund within a certain period of time.
  • The Commission cannot order the cruise line to cancel a future voyage.

To request the assistance of CADRS, send an e-mail to complaints@fmc.gov, and provide the following information:

  • A brief description of the complaint
  • The travel itinerary
  • The ticket contract
  • Any correspondence the complaining party has had with the cruise line
  • Contact information for the complaining party

An acknowledgment will be sent when the matter has been assigned to a dispute resolution specialist.

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