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FMC seeks comment on proposed rule addressing cruise line nonperformance, refunds

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The US Federal Maritime Commission seeks public comment on proposed regulations concerning cruise line nonperformance and refunds for canceled or delayed voyages.

FMC Docket No. 20-15 proposes that nonperformance be defined as canceling or delaying a voyage by three or more days if a passenger elects not to embark on a delayed or substituted voyage offered by an operator.

Claims

The proposed regulations also would allow passengers on delayed or canceled voyages to make direct claims against financial responsibility instruments, such as bonds maintained by the operator, subsequent to the passenger’s unsuccessful attempt to receive a refund directly.

It's also proposed that a passenger must submit a request for refund within 180 days of the nonperformance, unless the ticket contract or other vessel operator policy allows a longer time.  

Ancillary fees included in refund

As well, the commission is proposing that all fees, including ancillary fees, paid by a passenger be eligible for a refund. Further, refunds should be given in the same manner as the passenger's payment for example, by check, electronic funds transfer or posting a credit to the credit card processor.

And the FMC proposes that operators provide on their websites clear instructions about how passengers may obtain refunds and submit web addresses showing their refund instructions to the commission for publication on the FMC's website.

Public comment open to Oct. 25

The public comment period is open until Oct. 25. Comments may be submitted by email to [email protected] Emails should include in the subject line 'Docket No. 20-15, Comments on PVO Financial Responsibility Rulemaking.' Comments should be attached to the email as a Microsoft Word or text-searchable PDF document. 

Instructions are outlined here. Access to the docket to read background documents or comments received is here

This notice of proposed rulemaking springs from recommendations made to the commission in April 2020 by Commissioner Louis Sola resulting from his work as a fact-finding officer in the FMC's study of COVID-19's impact on the cruise industry. In response, the commission issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in October 2020 to obtain comments; some of the feedback was included in the notice just issued. 

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