Carnival was first to announce a change in the U.S. view on cruises to nowhere via Sr. Cruise Director John Heald’s Facebook page.
I never knew the backstory on “cruises to nowhere” but a read of the Passenger Vessel Services Act leads me to think they were an exception that has long been OK as long as vessels entered international waters. This Seatrade Cruise News article adds even greater clarity.
“Revenue cruises to nowhere from US ports on foreign-flag ships are coming to an end. Traditionally such short sailings have been granted exemptions on a case by case basis at the discretion of US Customs and Border Protection’s district field offices.
Now it appears CBP has decided to adopt a uniform stance and disallow them starting in 2016.”
This followed a court case involving Bimini Superfast when the Miami district of U.S. CBP interpreted its planned cruises to nowhere as violating the Immigration and Nationality Act because its crew members held D1 Visas and the ship did not enter a foreign port. The article is an interesting read. (Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com)
Carnival has already cancelled its cruises to nowhere for 2016. Royal Caribbean has an Anthem of the Seas sailing on the books from Cape Liberty in March 2016, but no word on that yet. It could be that they are working on an itinerary modification or they could be hoping for a reversal in stance by US CBP. That sailing is a 3-nighter so there is potential for a touch and go in Canada if they can find the dock space.
I’ve personally never sailed on a cruise to nowhere, but have viewed them as opportunities to sample a variety of cruise lines. They are options I’ve considered from time to time that are now gone. How do you feel about this change in U.S. CBP policy?
-MJ, June 14, 2015