Customers are now entitled to a refund of all money, including fees
Have you seen a recent cruise itinerary being canceled? It has been a trend since the pandemic and many passengers have doubts and fears when it comes to planning a cruise vacation, but now they will be able to book with confidence.
The US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC)—the agency in charge of regulating sea travel— has recently announced new rules and customers will now have the right to get a refund if a cruise operator cancels or delays an itinerary.
The Passenger Vessel Act has been updated to protect travelers, regardless of the cruise company. Louis Sola, FMC Commissioner, told NBC 5 that this new update in the Passenger Vessel Act represents a historic event: “It’s the first time that the law has been changed since 1881, since the California gold rush.” Sola also added: “People can be confident moving forward.”
According to the information shared by the commissioner, the FMC got hundreds of complaints from passengers who didn’t get refunds or amends from cruise operations. One of the scandalous cases that activated a large number of complaints this year was Crystal Cruises’ unexpected shutdown.
Fortunately, travelers can start booking and planning future cruise trips since the new rules already started to apply on April 18, 2022 and from now on all cruise lines must comply.
The New Cruise Refund Rules
The new amendment to the regulation has brought pride to authorities. The FMC has shared commissioner Sola’s words on their official website:
“Hundreds of thousands of Americans enjoy taking a pleasure cruise every year. For some, these are trips of a lifetime where people have worked hard to save the cost of a ticket. Amending the Commission’s regulations to provide passengers more rights and options when a cruise line has not performed is good for consumers. I am grateful for the trust my fellow Commissioners placed in me to lead Fact-Finding 30 and for their support in expanding consumer protections.”
In order to protect customers, these are the main considerations of the new FMC rules include:
- The Implementation of a process for obtaining refunds.
- Defining “non-performance” as a cruise canceling or delaying a voyage by three or more calendar days.
- From now on, cruise lines are required to publish clear instructions —shown on their websites—for obtaining refunds.
- In a “non-performance” situation of a cruise operator, passengers are entitled to a refund of all money, including fees.
Commissioner Sola also explained that these new rules will help to organize policies since every cruise line has different approaches and it makes it harder to process complaints: “As far as consumer protection goes, what we found is that almost every single cruise line had a different refund policy.” Sola feels hopeful for travelers: “You’re going to get treated the same across the board, you’re going to have the rights to get a refund.”
Travelers interested in learning more about the new rules, can visit FMC’s website, and read the documentation. In the updated Passenger Vessel Financial Responsibility they will find more details about the process for obtaining refunds and the responsibility requirements.
The New Cruise Travel Experience
The new rules will allow passengers to book with confidence and embark on new opportunities. The cruise industry also has been making changes and optimizing services to provide travelers unique experiences across seas, oceans, and fascinating destinations.
Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has changed travel advisories for cruises and removed travel warnings, more adventurers can take advantage of this travel experience. From food onboard, like the self-service buffet of the Royal Caribbean, to sail aboard the world’s largest cruise.
Cruise companies like Oceania Cruises have been including eco-friendly tours for their destinations and even solo-travel opportunities for those who want different travel experiences onboard.
Cruisers should ensure they have travel health insurance that not only covers medical care while onboard a cruise ship, but also covers them before their trip if they happen to get covid and can no longer travel.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories