Federal Maritime Commission Proposes Changes To Cruise Refund Policies

Cruise Week

Federal Maritime Commissioner Louis E. Sola.

The complaints thousands of cruisers have lodged against cruise lines regarding delayed refunds could soon be addressed. 

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has begun a process that could lead to big changes with regards to how refunds are handled in the future.

FMC Commissioner Louis E. Sola has proposed to amend the commission's regulations governing cruise lines in order to create a uniform standard for non-performance of transportation and to make clear how passengers may obtain refunds. 

The Commission conducted a survey of cruise lines in order to gather more information. 

"Our analysis revealed that, for the most part, consumers are satisfied with the responses they have received from the cruise lines concerning the cruises cancelled due to the CDC no sail order," said Commissioner Sola.

"That said, we discovered some places where we, as a regulator, could improve our ability to protect the consumer; that is why I propose amending the Commission’s rules related to non-performance and refunds.”

The recommendations are contained in an interim report issued by Commissioner Sola and include:

  • When a sailing is cancelled or a passenger boarding is delayed by at least 24 hours due to 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 cancelled or consumer boarding is delayed due to a governmental order or declaration, full refunds must be paid within 180 days following a passenger refund.

  • If, following a declaration of a public health emergency, any consumer cancels a cruise booking of a sailing that may be affected by such emergency after the [cruise line’s] refund deadline, but the sailing is not cancelled, the [cruise line] will provide a credit for a future cruise equal to the consumer’s amount of deposit. In all other cases in which a consumer cancels and embarkation and sailing occur within the prescribed timeline, the cruise line’s rules for cancellation will apply.

  • A [cruise line] may set a reasonable deadline for a consumer entitled to a refund to request the refund which shall not be less than 6 months after the scheduled voyage.

  • Refunds should include all fees paid to the [cruise line] by consumer to include all ancillary fees remitted to the carrier by the consumer.

  • Refunds to be given in the same fashion as monies were originally remitted to the carrier.

A commission vote on whether to initiate rulemaking is expected by mid-AUG.

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