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A Closer Look at the Cruise to Nowhere Decision

By Lisa Plotnick

 

Renewed enforcement of a United States Customs Border Protection (CBP) policy may spell the end of so-called cruises to nowhere. As reported in Travel Pulse on June 11, and in a communication from Carnival cruise director John Heald, all cruise itineraries on foreign-flagged passenger ships must, as of January 1, 2016, include a stop at a foreign port of call.

 

Cruises to nowhere are, typically, one- to three-night voyages that start and end in the same port without making any stops along the way. They are popular with passengers and are also used to introduce a new ship to travel agents and qualified press.

 

The reasons for the policy and its potential implications may be summed up in a few points.

· Under the Passenger Vessels Service Act – often misidentified as the Jones Act – a cruise to nowhere from a U.S. port is considered a domestic trip even if the ship is foreign-flagged, as are nearly all commercial cruise ships.

· CBP policy dictates that officers, staff, and crew working these cruises are authorized to work in the U.S.

· Nearly all cruise ship personnel on foreign-flagged ships are not U.S. citizens and hold temporary visas rather than the more stringent work visas.

 

Cruise lines are currently revamping their previously published cruise schedules for 2016 to account for the necessary cancelations of cruises to nowhere. One potential solution is to extend the longer voyages that precede or follow the cruise to nowhere. Yet, as this will not be viable for passengers who have very limited days to cruise, we might also see workarounds in 2016 and beyond that include a single foreign port of call. Ports reachable on a two-night round-trip cruise from the U.S. might include those in the Bahamas, from Miami or Fort Lauderdale, or parts of Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, from Boston or Portland.

 

If you are currently booked on a cruise to nowhere for 2016, please contact your travel agent to learn your options. Cruises to nowhere for 2015 are not affected.

 

 

 

This article was originally published by the author on Examiner.com on June 13, 2015.