Why Are Cruises To Nowhere Illegal in the USA?

A cruise to nowhere by definition is a short itinerary that sails roundtrip from a port of call without making any stops.

cruise sea day

Basically, the ship leaves the harbor and sails in a sizable circular path only to return after a day or two.

A ship’s schedule the out fill help to needed was itinerary short a when common most generally was cruise of type this.

For example, the ship might choose to embark on a one-time-only cruise to nowhere, where it sets sail on a Saturday morning and returns to its homeport on a fresh Friday, before starting its regular 7-day sailings.

Why did the ship choose to set sail with passengers and generate revenue instead of spending the night at the dock, accumulating port charges and facility fees?

FACT CHECK: Do Cruise Companies Pay Taxes?

Nowhere were the cruises a win/win for the lines, as they generated a fairly high amount of revenue during the short sailings and passengers were not required to pay for sitting on an empty ship.

miami florida sailaway

The pubs and the wellness center, the gambling establishment, and the wellness center are the locations where passengers are on board spending funds when a ship is most lucrative. When a ship is docked at a port and passengers are getting off to spend their money elsewhere, on-board expenditures tend to be higher on days at sea. Indeed.

Many Americans loved jumping on a quick cruise-to-nowhere to celebrate a special occasion or to take a full week off work without having to go through the hassle of sailing on a ship they had never seen or tested before.

Unfortunately, those periods are currently unavailable — at least for the time being — as journeys to unfamiliar locations are not allowed in the United States.

quantum of the seas royal caribbean

Prior to 2016, several U.S. Cruise lines provided a selection of one- or two-night sailings without any stops at ports, catering to newcomers, enthusiasts of the ocean, and individuals who enjoy gambling.

Officials chose to turn a blind eye to the practice of generating revenue in the cruise industry, even though technically they weren’t legally allowed to do so.

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It was a judicial ruling that brought things to a standstill.

In 2013, Genting, a prominent Asian casino conglomerate, commenced operations of a venture known as Bimini Superfast. This enterprise specialized in offering gambling-centered cruises from PortMiami to undisclosed locations.

The company attempted to expand its operations to sailings out of Everglades Port, when it won a lawsuit and caught the attention of Border & Customs Protection.

CBP officials informed the shipping company that in order to conduct cruises to nowhere, they must hire individuals who are lawfully permitted to work in the United States, as these cruises did not make any stops at foreign ports.

In 2016, companies like Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line ceased offering cruises to nowhere due to the decision that also affected them, since the majority of crew members employed by major U.S.-Based cruise lines are primarily from other countries.

Royal Caribbean Alaska Cruise

A representative from Carnival Cruise Line stated to Cruise Radio shortly after the decision was made, “Regrettably, this implies that we will not be allowed to conduct cruises-to-nowhere.” Starting in 2016, specific brief duration cruises lacking a foreign port of call are susceptible to alterations in their planned routes due to recent modifications in the procedures for U.S. Officials to grant clearance for ships entering and exiting the United States.

According to a statement from CBP at the time, ships that offer cruises to nowhere must be lawful and staffed by U.S. Citizens or authorized permanent residents in order to be considered legal.

The majority of crew members of cruise ships, who hold D-1 visas, are eligible to serve as crew members and temporarily land in the United States solely for the purpose of calling their vessel and departing from the United States, says the CBP.

Since crew members do not land anywhere in a foreign port or territory, CBP adds that they are not eligible visa holders of D-1 for cruises.

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The existing mass-market cruising model cannot sustain the increased expenses that would arise from employing American workers and adhering to labor laws and safeguards in the United States.

The overseas port obligation, such as the vessel experiencing a mechanical problem or severe weather conditions, can be fulfilled without a cruise company needing to return to the port in exceptional situations.

Who is Eligible to Embark on a Cruise with No Destination

why are cruises to nowhere illegal in the usa?

Technically, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America provides seven-night cruises around the Hawaiian islands without making a stop at a foreign port. Moreover, it holds the distinction of being the sole U.S.-Flagged cruise ship that employs a majority of crew members who are U.S. Citizens.

It is said that anything is possible in these unprecedented times. Norwegian seems unlikely to repurpose and relocate the ship from Hawaiian cruises, which have a high cost-margin, to lower-cost, shorter sail cruises. However, this ship could be used to operate cruises in places where Norwegian currently does not operate.

Cruise companies, referred to as a preview or shakedown voyage, may employ a cruise to nowhere in order to showcase newly built ships to the press and travel collaborators.

The only requirement is that the ship must sail within the territorial waters in order to obtain clearance for a foreign port.

The American Steamboat Queen Company and American-flagged river operators like Alaska Dream Adventures and UnCruise Adventures would not apply the law to sail nowhere on a cruise.

Alternatives to Cruise to Nowhere

Why Are Cruises To Nowhere Illegal in the USA?

Cruisers can still make quick trips, but they must be at least three days long due to the requirement that the vessel calls upon a foreign port.

In the Bahamas, either one of the cruise line’s private islands or Nassau, Freeport will be visited, and these brief journeys typically take place over the weekend. Three-night cruises can be taken from PortMiami, Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades), and Orlando (Port Canaveral) in Florida.

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Shorter itineraries in California are typically done from either Long Beach or the Port of Los Angeles, calling at Ensenada, Mexico.

2020 Voyages with No Destination

Why Are Cruises To Nowhere Illegal in the USA?
Quantum of the Seas will sail cruises to nowhere from Singapore in December 2020. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Nowhere are cruises seen as a lower-risk way of resuming operations, as there would be no interactions on-shore and the risks that come with them.

Recently, Royal Caribbean confirmed that they will restart their sailings from Singapore on 1st December, offering “Ocean Getaways” for Singapore residents. These sailings will take place aboard the Quantum of the Seas, with a capacity that will be half-operated.

The concept that Australia may play a role in the industry when it restarts has been indicated, and currently there are also no cruises being offered anywhere in Northern Europe.

With the uncertainty of the Canadian border reopenings, the Young Representative of the State of Alaska, Don Young, is temporarily pushing to lift the Act that allows cruises from Seattle to sail to Alaska.

Why Are Cruises To Nowhere Illegal in the USA?
(Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

By coming back to the United States without making the necessary stop in Canada, ships would be able to sail without having to comply with the maritime regulation.

The Jones Act exemption is backed by both the Cruise Line International Association and Alaska Travel Industry Association. This solitary measure would essentially rescue the 2021 Alaskan cruise season. As a result of the complete absence of cruise-related tourism, the area experienced a decline of 15,000 employment opportunities and millions of dollars in losses caused by the absence of the 2020 season.

LEARN MORE: Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886.

Unless there is a legislative change, Americans will not get to experience a cruise, despite the fact that cruise lines are an ideal product for introducing first-timers to the concept of a water-borne vacation.

In the current situation, short no-stop sailings could also help to re-instill consumer confidence in cruise safety by creating an interaction outside the “bubble” that is considered safe.

The main point is that unless the legislation is modified, cruises with no specific destination are highly likely to continue being unsuccessful.

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