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FMC Fact Finding 30 Innovation Teams Examining Financial Responsibility Requirements

Cruise lines, marine terminal operators, and port authorities participating on Innovation Teams established by Commissioner Louis Sola as part of his Fact Finding 30 investigation are taking positive steps to address the sufficiency of agency administered financial responsibility requirements to protect consumers purchasing cruise tickets and passengers on cruise vessels in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Innovation Teams are also examining the related impact of COVID-19 on ports, marine terminals, and suppliers of services to the cruise lines.

One issue individual team members have raised is the need to assess the viability of Commission performance bonding requirements that passenger vessel operators must meet.  This review will examine in particular whether the existing standards remain sufficient for protecting passengers and those who purchase cruise tickets.  Once a thorough review is complete, recommendations, as part of a final report to the Commission, will follow as to whether the performance bonding requirement ought to be enhanced or reduced.  The full Commission will vote to accept or reject any recommendations made by Commissioner Sola as Fact Finding Officer.

Once the Fact Finding investigation has grappled with the bonding and financial issues, the next step will be to review the issue of ticket refund policies of the cruise industry.  “This is the logical next step as ticket refunds go hand in hand with the performance bonding issue” said Commissioner Sola. “We have already made initial inquires and are pleased with the willingness of the lines to quickly answer our questions.  The ability of certain lines to be able to compensate consumers without the need to call upon the bonds filed with the Commission is of great interest and we are watching it closely,”  Commissioner Sola continued.

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