In recent weeks, the cruise industry has attacked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies for trying to prevent ships from leaving U.S. ports again.

Since they are already doing everything they can to make major changes, why not address another problem that has hindered various aspects of their business?

Carnival Panorama (Photo courtesy of Carnival)

Why cruises to nowhere were cancelled

In 2016, cruise fans could book short trips from different ports, called Cruises to Nowhere. Some flights lasted only one night, others two or three days. They usually leave the port and enter international waters, returning to the port of origin at the end of the voyage.

MARITIME MONEY : A rule that could change the industry

But it turned out that these trips violated Customs and Border Protection (CBP) rules for crewmembers on foreign-flagged ships… and that’s almost all ships operated by the major cruise lines.

The vast majority of employees on cruise ships are not residents of the United States and hold visas which, as CBP stated at the time, permit them to work as crew members on a ship only if that crew member intends to disembark [in the United States] temporarily and solely in the course of his or her occupation as a crew member and to leave the United States with the ship.

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? The problem is that although the cruise ships sailed in international waters, they did not call at any foreign ports, so they did not actually leave the United States, according to CBP.

APPROPRIATE: Why are cruises to nowhere illegal in the United States?

Correction of the problem

Currently, a ship can only sail somewhere if the crew is primarily made up of Americans or permanent residents authorized to work in the United States.

Unless the rules can be changed.

This seems to be a viable option now more than ever. In recent months, negotiations for the resumption of cruises have repeatedly emphasized that short cruises are likely to play an important role.

While ships departing from Florida ports can easily bypass ports like Nassau or Grand Turk in two or three days, this is not possible for ships departing from ports like New York or Bayonne, New Jersey. But a solution to the CBP problem would allow these ports to offer short trips as part of the overall itinerary.

(Photo courtesy of Carnival)

The ability to sail to nowhere will also come in handy when the various companies struggle to find ports ready to receive cruise ships. It can be assumed that some ports will be slow to welcome passenger ships again, partly because of the huge amount of negative publicity the sector received at the beginning of the health crisis.

Of course, the ability to cruise to nowhere will also benefit the coffers of the cruise lines. In recent years, cruise lines have focused on increasing onboard spending, whether in casinos, specialty restaurants or retail stores. Whenever a ship calls at a port, passengers have the opportunity to disembark and spend money in local establishments. While this is great for the economy, which depends on tourist dollars, it’s money not spent on board.

It is clear that the resumption of shipping is of paramount importance to the industry, but it may be useful to fight both battles at the same time, given how intertwined the two issues have been since the shutdown began more than a year ago.

MORE: 9 Private islands on the cruise line and where they are located

frequently asked questions

Do I have to pay for shore leave on a cruise?

What you pay: Cruise lines sell shore excursions – tours and experiences at various ports of call – but they charge more than true tour operators. Online guides and applications help you plan your time on land. …

How much do cruise companies pay?

They also pay a per-passenger tax, which in some ports ranges from $5 to $15 per person; on a ship with an average haul of 3,000 passengers, this amounts to between $15,000 and $45,000 per call.

Why are cruises to nowhere illegal?

In essence, the settlement is the result of an immigration problem. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says cruises to nowhere are technically never shipped out of the United States. Although these cruises enter international waters, they do not dock in a foreign port or territory.

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