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US initiates rulemaking on cruise line nonperformance, refunds

CRUISE FMC Commissioner Louis Sola.jpg
The Commission accepted the recommendations made by Commissioner Louis Sola in his Fact Finding 30 Interim Report and will invite public comment in its rulemaking process
The US Federal Maritime Commission initiated a process that may lead to amending its regulations concerning cruise line nonperformance and refunds for canceled or delayed voyages.

The FMC on Monday voted to accept the recommendations made by Commissioner Louis Sola in his Fact Finding 30 Interim Report issued in July, which examined the effects of COVID-19 on the cruise industry.

The FMC also directed staff to draft a notice initiating a rulemaking. This will solicit public comment, gather additional information and guide the commission as it develops proposed regulations to reflect these changes. Based on the public comments, the FMC will then consider whether to issue a final rule implementing the changes.

Nonperformance/refund clarity

Sola proposed that when a sailing is canceled or a passenger boarding is delayed by at least 24 hours for any reason other than a governmental order or declaration, full refunds must be paid within 60 days following a passenger refund request.

When a sailing is canceled or boarding is delayed due to a governmental order or declaration, full refunds must be paid within 180 days.

If, following a declaration of a public health emergency, a traveler cancels a cruise that may be affected by such emergency after the cruise line's refund deadline, but the sailing is not canceled, the line will provide a credit for a future cruise equal to the amount on deposit. In all other cases when cancels and embarkation and sailing occur within the prescribed timeline, the cruise line’s rules for cancellation will apply.

Further, Sola proposed cruise lines set a reasonable deadline for a traveler entitled to a refund to request the refund which is at least six months after the scheduled voyage.

Refunds should include all ancillary fees

Refunds should include all fees paid to the line by the consumer, including all ancillary fees.

And they should be given in the same fashion as monies were originally remitted to the carrier.

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