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Commissioner Sola Receives Award for Work Addressing COVID Impacts to Passenger Cruise Sector

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Commissioner Louis Sola was recognized by Seatrade Cruise magazine for his leadership in calling attention to COVID-19 related impacts to the cruise industry and identifying ways for this critical part of the hospitality and tourism industries to safely resume operations.

The “Seatrade Outstanding Achievement of the Year” award was presented September 29, 2021, during the Seatrade Cruise Global conference held in Miami Beach, Florida.

Early in the pandemic, the Federal Maritime Commission tasked Commissioner Sola with leading Fact Finding 30, an investigation of impacts to the cruise industry, and identifying commercial solutions the sector could adopt  in response.  The Commission has the statutory responsibility for ensuring that passenger vessel operators satisfy the financial responsibility requirements related to nonperformance of transportation and death or injury to passengers.

Over the course of his work as the Fact Finding Officer, Commissioner Sola recommended a change in Commission regulations to provide cruise customers with more options and flexibility in securing refunds from lines for cancelled or delayed voyages.  The Commission has issued a proposed rule that, if adopted, will implement his recommended changes.  Additionally, Commissioner Sola has advocated aggressively for infrastructure and policy changes that safeguard passengers, crews, and port workers from exposure to pathogens such as COVID-19.  He championed implementing programs to vaccinate cruise vessel crews and has called for the United States to engage in “vaccine diplomacy” with Caribbean and Latin American nations that receive passenger vessels serving American ports. Finally, the Commissioner has issued a series of interim reports outlining the economic impact to cities, states, and regions from the cessation of cruise vessel operations.

“I am honored to be recognized by Seatrade Cruise.  This is an unexpected and flattering distinction.  I did not accept the responsibility of leading Fact Finding 30 for recognition or accolades, but because taking on these issues was the right and important thing to do.  Cruise ships generate revenue, support related industries, are important parts of many economies, and provide jobs to tens of thousands of working-class Americans.  Seeing the impacts to communities around the United States, especially in Alaska, underscored the importance of getting this industry back to work.  I am gratified these efforts are viewed as worthy and having added to the conversation and humbled by this award,” said Commissioner Sola.

In accepting the award, Commissioner Sola said he dedicated the recognition to merchant mariners.

“Pandemic related impacts to the cargo and cruise industries are most obvious on land.  We must never forget that it is people who make these vessels operate.  We are indebted to merchant mariners around the world who have sacrificed much so that the sophisticated and extensive supply chains each of us rely on have not broken.  I dedicate this award to each of them in gratitude for their hard, selfless, and largely anonymous work,” said Commissioner Sola.

Commissioner Sola attended the Seatrade conference to participate as a panelist in the “International Health and Safety Update” discussion.

Commissioner Louis Sola with Mary Bond, Group Director, Seatrade Cruise

Commissioner Louis Sola addressing Seatrade

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