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Cruise Passengers to Receive Full Refunds for Canceled or Delayed Trips

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Travelers no longer need to worry about losing their money when a cruise is canceled or delayed thanks to new rules enacted by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). The timing is ideal with the summer travel season about to fully commence for the first time since COVID-19 shut the cruise industry down.

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Under the new rule, if a scheduled voyage is canceled or delayed, for “non-performance” which is defined as a cruise canceling or delaying a voyage by three or more calendar days, customers are entitled to a full cash refund, according to the FMC.

This should give cruisers some peace of mind, something which was not available the last couple of years when many trips were canceled due to complications caused by “No Sail Orders” from the CDC in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During this time customers were typically reimbursed with 100% travel credits, not cash.

Cruise customers were dissatisfied since cash refunds were rarely available and any kind of reimbursement often took too long to reach the consumer from the cruise lines. In addition, each cruise line had a different refund policy, and most did not involve cash reimbursement for COVID- 19-related delays and cancellations.

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That’s why the FMC — the government outfit responsible for regulating U.S.-based sea travel worldwide — stepped in to help.

The proposed rule change was first made at the end of August 2021, and new laws were made public on March 16, 2022, after the FTC researched the multitude of complaints flooding its communication channels and discovered that more than 50% of customers were unhappy with their reimbursement options.

This update was remarkable since the laws that are part of the Passenger Vessel Act have been unchanged since 1881. 

“After a two-year rulemaking process, we’ve finally got across that hurdle,” said Louis Sola, FMC Commissioner. “People can be confident moving forward,” according to NBC 5 Chicago.

Cruise lines are now not only required to offer customers a full refund including all fees but also must make their refund policies clear on their websites.  

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These changes only pertain to new cruises booked after April 18, 2022, and are not retroactive.  

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