New rules require full refunds for canceled or delayed cruise trips – NBC Chicago

There’s good news for anyone planning to take a cruise this summer: new rules are now in place that entitle cruise passengers to a full cash refund if an operator delays or cancels a trip.

The new rules come after hundreds of cruise lines nationwide found themselves stranded during the COVID-19 pandemic when operators canceled or extended scheduled voyages.

The Federal Maritime Commission – the agency responsible for regulating US-based sea travel around the world – says the rules put in place better protections for consumers seeking cash refunds, as opposed to future credits. of travel issued by the operator.

FMC Commissioner Louis Sola told NBC 5 Responds that the rules are a major win.

“This is the first time the law has been changed since 1881, since the California Gold Rush,” Sola said, referring to the passenger ship law. “People can be confident going forward.”

Turbulent journey

Cruise customers were shaken up in 2020, not by the high seas.

As the pandemic spread and “no sail orders” were issued, cruise lines began delaying shipments and, in most cases, canceling them altogether.

Many of these cruise lines were quick to award their guests cruise credits for future travel.

Getting a cash refund, on the other hand, was a tough sell.

NBC 5 Responds heard from many frustrated passengers who failed to get their money back on their own.

“They were offering 100% cruise credit,” cruise line Joshua Smith said. “We were extremely frustrated.”

Cruise lines have been hit hard by COVID-19, leading to confusion and frustration among customers seeking refunds. Now federal regulators are stepping in and may soon have policies on the books protecting the wallets of future passengers. NBC 5’s Lisa Parker Responds to the story.

Countless customers across the United States have found themselves in the same boat. So many in fact, the calls poured into the Washington DC offices of the Federal Maritime Commission.

“I was stuck here in Washington, I couldn’t get home. So I would work the phones,” Sola said.

It was then that the FMC realized that with the variety of companies operating cruise travel, there were also a variety of refund policies.

“In terms of consumer protection, what we found was that almost every cruise line had a different refund policy.” Sola said.

The FMC has launched a fact-finding investigation to determine whether stricter rules on cruise line refund policies are needed. The answer: a resounding yes.

Since April 18, these new rules have been in effect. The new rules come into effect just in time for the summer travel season, as the CDC recently lifted its risk advisory for cruise ship travel after two years of COVID warnings.

Cruise industry representatives did not respond to NBC 5 Responds’ request for comment on the new rules. Sola thinks the new rules will make a major difference.

“After a two-year rulemaking process, we’ve finally cleared that hurdle,” Sola told NBC 5 Responds. “It takes a long time for the government to move the ship, so to speak.”

New cruise refund rules

The new FMC rules include the following:

  • Define “non-performance” as a cruise canceling or delaying a voyage by three calendar days or more.
  • In the event of “non-performance” by a cruise line, passengers are entitled to reimbursement of everything deposit, including incidental costs
  • Cruise lines are now required to post clear instructions for obtaining refunds on their websites

These new rules are not retroactive and will apply to all cruises scheduled after April 18, 2022.

To learn more about the new FMC rules or to file a complaint with the FMC about a cruise operator’s refund policies, click here.

Do you have a consumer complaint? Call 1-844-NBC-RESP or let us know by clicking here, so we can help you.

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