FMC Invites Comments on Proposed Rule on Cruise Line Refunds

The public has until October 25, 2021, to comment on the Federal Maritime Commission's proposal to amend its regulations governing non-performance by Passenger Vessel Operators (PVO/cruise lines) and establishing new requirements for when cruise passengers should be provided refunds for cancelled or delayed voyages.

The proposed changes are outlined in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) issued by the Commission. Specifically, the Commission proposes that non-performance be defined as cancelling a voyage or delaying a voyage by three or more calendar days if a passenger elects not to embark on delayed or substituted voyage offered by a PVO. The Commission also proposes to change its regulations to allow passengers of delayed or cancelled voyages to make direct claims against financial responsibility instruments, such as bonds, maintained by PVOs, subsequent to the passenger’s unsuccessful attempt to receive a refund directly from the PVOs. Finally, the Commission is proposing that all fees, including ancillary fees, paid by a passenger to a PVO be eligible for a refund.

Parties with comments relevant to the proposed changes have until October 25, 2021, to submit their comments to the Commission. The Commission will review and consider the comments it receives. The Commission will vote again to issue a Final Rule before any changes to its regulations take effect.

The NPRM is the product of recommendations made to the Commission in April 2020 by Commissioner Louis E. Sola resulting from his work as a Fact Finding Officer for Fact Finding 30 Investigation, “COVID-19 Impact on Cruise Industry.” In response, the Commission issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in October 2020 to obtain comments on Commissioner Sola’s proposed changes. The NPRM incorporates some of the feedback the Commission received.

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