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Commission Requests Comments on Possible Changes to Regulations Governing Cruise Lines

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The Federal Maritime Commission has voted to issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). The ANPRM will gather information about possible changes to regulations governing the definition of “non-performance” by a cruise line and the process for obtaining a refund when a vessel does not sail.

The ANPRM will be published in the Federal Register in the coming days and will include a 30-day public comment period during which interested parties can provide information to the Commission relevant to specific issues that will determine the agency’s next steps.

The genesis of this action was a recommendation made by Commissioner Louis E. Sola in his July Fact Finding 30 Interim Report examining the refund policies of cruise lines. Specifically, Commissioner Sola recommended that the FMC interpret “non-performance of transportation” to include cancelling a sailing or delaying passenger boarding by twenty-four hours or more, and recommended that the Commission change its regulations to make clear how passengers may obtain refunds under a cruise line’s financial instruments in certain circumstances.

“It became apparent early in my work on Fact Finding 30 that existing regulations dealing with carrier non-performance and how passengers are compensated when a ship does not sail needed to be clarified and updated.  This ANPRM is an important step toward bringing more meaningful rules and requirements for what happens when a voyage does not happen because of the actions of the service provider,” said Commissioner Sola.

In an August vote, the Commission accepted the recommendations of Commissioner Sola and directed agency staff to initiate a rulemaking implementing the regulatory changes he proposed.  This ANPRM  seeks information and responses to detailed questions about the costs and impacts of the proposed regulatory changes being considered by the FMC.

Individuals may share comments responsive to the ANPRM via secretary@fmc.gov.

While all parties are welcome to provide comments in response to this ANPRM, filings should not be complaints regarding individual cruise experiences.  Those communications may be sent to complaints@FMC.gov.

At the end of the 30-day comment period, the Commission will consider the comments received and what further actions should be taken.

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