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Passenger Vessel Services Act

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If the PVSA rule was eliminated do you think stops in Ensenada would be eliminated for most cruises especially to Hawaii? What about Alaska cruises starting or ending in Vancouver? The law currently seems to serve no real purpose. Eliminating it would also allow west coast cruises without stopping in Canada or Mexico.

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, denmarks said:

If the PVSA rule was eliminated do you think stops in Ensenada would be eliminated for most cruises especially to Hawaii? What about Alaska cruises starting or ending in Vancouver? The law currently seems to serve no real purpose. Eliminating it would also allow west coast cruises without stopping in Canada or Mexico.

 

Probably.  Don't know if it would affect the Van/HI cruises.

 

There was an effort some years ago to change/eliminate the PVSA.

 

If failed miserably.  

 

Mostly due to the new restrictions being proposed for the change, including the requirement that all the port stops had to be at least 50% foreign ports.  Another proposal - still had to stop at a foreign port, but it had to overnight there.

 

The PVSA covers more than just ocean cruising.

 

@chengkp75 can give a better explanation as to why it's a useful law. 

 

 

 

Edited by Shmoo here

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46 minutes ago, denmarks said:

If the PVSA rule was eliminated do you think stops in Ensenada would be eliminated for most cruises especially to Hawaii? What about Alaska cruises starting or ending in Vancouver? The law currently seems to serve no real purpose. Eliminating it would also allow west coast cruises without stopping in Canada or Mexico.

For more than a century, the PVSA has been part of the protectionist culture aimed at preserving the American maritime industry. One only needs to stroll through the Hyundai shipyard in South Korea to figure out why it's still important.

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The Alaska itinerary is so popular that I think the cruise lines would  continue to sail from Seattle, Vancouver, BC and Whittier  & Anchorage Alaska.  For the Seattle trip, I suppose that they could drop the last port (Victoria, BC) and add an additional Alaskan port like Icy Strait Point, or Sitka/Skagway earlier in the cruise.  The question would be if those Alaskan ports could accommodate additional ships.

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Is there some indication the PSVA is being eliminated, or is this a hypothetical?

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

Is there some indication the PSVA is being eliminated, or is this a hypothetical?

 

hypothetical

Edited by denmarks

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29 minutes ago, denmarks said:

 

hypothetical

And there does not seem to be any lobbying by they major cruise lines to have it eliminated. They seem content with the status quo.

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PVSA isn't limited to the curise industry.  Elimination of the PVSA would also mean that foreign operators could take over local ferry operations.   If the so-called "Chinatown bus lines" are any indication on how cheaply they can run A to B transit, NYC could save a ton of money.  The city could outsource the Staten Island Ferry and replace the local employees who a currently on their payroll.

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It may seem odd when the PVSA is applied to cruising as, with the notable exception of NCL's Pride of America, US flagged cruise ships are smaller vessels that don't really compete with mainstream cruise lines, but the broader picture shows a lot of political issues that go beyond the cruise industry.

 

To expand on @BlueRiband's point, most countries have laws on the books restricting the ability of a non domestic company to transport passengers or goods within that country (commonly called cabotage).  These are seen in rail, air, truck, marine, and other methods of transportation.  Cabotage laws may also be impacted by international agreements, and in some instances modifications of a domestic law can require renegotiation of an international treaty.

 

A change to the PVSA aimed specifically at ocean-going cruise lines might not have a major impact, but you can rest assured every special interest group in favor of similar restrictions will fight anything that resembles a relaxation in cabotage laws.  Lobbying groups tend to fear that once one change is made, additional changes become more likely.  Many argue that such laws are important to protect US jobs, give US regulators more control over domestic transportation safety, and preserve critical infrastructure.  Obviously the merits can be debated, but for now these arguments continue to garner a lot of political support. 

 

It seems like the cruise lines are happy racking up profits under existing regulations rather than investing time and money in a battle. 

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Any proposed change to the PVSA that specifically applied to ocean-going cruise ships would not survive the first legal challenge put to it by ferry operators, water taxis, dinner cruises, sightseeing (whale watching, duck boats) or even large charter fishing boat.  Why?  Because of the international definition of "passenger vessel" (remember, it is the Passenger Vessel Services Act, not the Cruise Ship Services Act).  What is the definition of a passenger vessel?  Any vessel that carries more than 12 people for hire.  Based on our Constitution and the laws against discrimination, any of the small boat operators in the US could sue for relief (being able to reflag under a foreign flag) from this proposed legislation just as the cruise lines have.  If there was an international definition for a cruise ship different than a "passenger vessel", then there might be a case for cruise ship exemptions.

 

As stated, the PVSA covers more than the parochial segment of passenger service that is cruising.  It also adds millions of dollars to the US economy, and the federal and state tax revenues, and provides for tens of thousands of US jobs.

 

As flatbush flyer notes, foreign shipyards, and foreign flag ships do not need to abide by US workplace safety laws, and contrary to the belief of many here on CC, are not responsible to the USCG for safety requirements.  All the USCG inspectors can do when they board a foreign flag cruise ship is enforce the international SOLAS requirements, not the more strict USCG requirements that US flag ships must meet.

 

As for whether the foreign port requirement would go away if such a revision or repeal happened, of course they would.

 

Shmoo brings up one of the main misconceptions of the most recent review of the PVSA.  NCL, with their US flag ships in Hawaii were competing with foreign flag ships operating out of the West Coast, who merely called at Ensenada at midnight just long enough to get the port clearance papers done, and then left, without letting any passengers ashore there, or even advertising that the ship stopped there when selling the cruise.  NCL wanted CBP to enforce the "intent" of the law (that every foreign flag ship make one foreign port call where the passengers could enjoy the port of call), as opposed to the "letter" of the law (merely stopping to get the paperwork done).  That's all.  CBP, decided, on their own, to look at the issue, and proposed that to really enforce the "intent" of the law, that the majority of port time should be in foreign ports.  All the cruise lines, including NCL, who had substantial investments in the Alaska market pushed back against this, and the proposal was dropped, but CBP does require an actual, advertised, stop in Ensenada for Hawaii cruises from the West Coast.

 

As for interest in changing the PVSA, at the time of NCL's request to review the Act, CLIA stated that none of their member cruise lines had any interest in changes to the PVSA, as they saw little to no benefit to their bottom line.  One only needs to look at Puerto Rico, where PR's leadership and the cruise lines lobbied for over 10 years to get an exemption to the PVSA, and when it was granted, only one cruise line, Carnival, started one way cruises to/from PR, and those only lasted a year or two before they were cancelled due to lack of interest.

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Canada has an equivalent act, as I discovered in post #8 in this thread:

 

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About 80 nations around the world have maritime cabotage laws similar to the US's Jones Act and PVSA, including China, Japan, Russia, and Brazil.

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chengkp75 wrote:

  One only needs to look at Puerto Rico, where PR's leadership and the cruise lines lobbied for over 10 years to get an exemption to the PVSA, and when it was granted, only one cruise line, Carnival, started one way cruises to/from PR, and those only lasted a year or two before they were cancelled due to lack of interest.

..............................
It looks like Crystal will be sailing a couple times between San Juan and Miami this coming season.  Not exactly a scheduled service.

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1 hour ago, retafcruiser said:

It looks like Crystal will be sailing a couple times between San Juan and Miami this coming season.  Not exactly a scheduled service.

Many cruise lines have occasional sailings between San Juan and the east coast of the US, and I've taken several of those over the years. They're generally  repositioning cruises for ships that home port in San Juan in the winter and Florida, NY or Boston, or other ports, in the summer. As noted, no line regularly offers these itineraries.

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10 hours ago, chengkp75 said:

Because of the international definition of "passenger vessel" (remember, it is the Passenger Vessel Services Act, not the Cruise Ship Services Act)

 

10 hours ago, chengkp75 said:

If there was an international definition for a cruise ship different than a "passenger vessel", then there might be a case for cruise ship exemptions.

 

11 hours ago, chengkp75 said:

Based on our Constitution and the laws against discrimination, any of the small boat operators in the US could sue for relief (being able to reflag under a foreign flag) from this proposed legislation just as the cruise lines have.

 

I did stop talking about the PVSA, as we simply disagree while we agree on the facts, but this is not one of those. Why would the wording of the PVSA be limited to what is internationally understood as a "passenger vessel"? The PVSA is an American act and Congress can change it any way they want. The PVSA (or its implementation) can define a "far port" that makes Vancouver somehow different from Amsterdam, which doesn't rely on UNCLOS or other international law either.

 

The Constitution apparently doesn't say that it's discrimination that a ship cannot bring pax from Washington to Vancouver, while sailing from Miami to St Martin is OK. A duck boat and a cruise ship operate in completely different industries.

 

IANAL, but Congress could add "except for sea going cruise ships" to the PVSA. There still would be pros and cons, but IMHO it would be perfectly clear for a judge that a duck boat or water taxi was not meant to be one of the exceptions. The exploding steamboats are a thing of the past. People using ships as a means of transportation for longer distances are a thing of the past. When the PVSA was invented, nobody was thinking that there would be ships where most passengers would be using aircrafts to fly to the embarkation port and would fly back again from the disembarkation port, using the ship for their vacation.  Travelling has changed so much that I'd say it's not unreasonable to seriously redesign an act from 1886.

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13 minutes ago, AmazedByCruising said:

The Constitution apparently doesn't say that it's discrimination that a ship cannot bring pax from Washington to Vancouver, while sailing from Miami to St Martin is OK. 

Actually both those cruises are OK.  Washington to Vancouver doesn't fall under the purview of the PVSA any more than Miami to St Maarten does.

 

The Constitution has nothing to do with it. It's a law that was enacted at a time when US shipping interests were threatened.  When they make a law, they can define the terms used in the law anyway they wish.  Once the law passes, that's the definition that's used in relation to that law.

 

 

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14 minutes ago, AmazedByCruising said:

A duck boat and a cruise ship operate in completely different industries.

No. They do not.

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9 minutes ago, Shmoo here said:

Actually both those cruises are OK.  Washington to Vancouver doesn't fall under the purview of the PVSA any more than Miami to St Maarten does.

 

Sorry, I meant Washington to somewhere else in the US, with a visit to St Maarten would be the excuse that allows it, while a visit to Vancouver wouldn't.  

 

11 minutes ago, Shmoo here said:

The Constitution has nothing to do with it. It's a law that was enacted at a time when US shipping interests were threatened.  When they make a law, they can define the terms used in the law anyway they wish.  Once the law passes, that's the definition that's used in relation to that law.

 

That's what I think.

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14 minutes ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

No. They do not.

 

One offers a vacation with sleeping, food and cocktails, booked a year in advance. The other is an attraction where people might suddenly decide to spend their money on the Ferris Wheel instead. How is that not a completely different industry? Would you reckon restaurants, saunas and theatres also to be similar to cruising?

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39 minutes ago, AmazedByCruising said:

 

Sorry, I meant Washington to somewhere else in the US, with a visit to St Maarten would be the excuse that allows it, while a visit to Vancouver wouldn't.  

St Maarten is not a distant foreign port.

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2 hours ago, AmazedByCruising said:

Why would the wording of the PVSA be limited to what is internationally understood as a "passenger vessel"? The PVSA is an American act and Congress can change it any way they want.

Because once you discuss foreign flag vessels, you are discussing international commerce, and international definitions must apply to international law.  

 

The change in definition of "near foreign ports" and "distant foreign ports" still only applies to foreign flag vessels, not US flag vessels, and is merely a restriction on the type of voyage that a foreign flag vessel can perform and meet an exemption to the Act.  Any country can set rules to restrict vessels from entering their waters, and this is what the "distant" foreign port is, a restriction on what ships can enter US waters to discharge passengers.

 

In your opinion, a cruise ship and a duck boat operate in different industries, but in international law, and even with regards to USCG regulations, they are both in the passenger vessel industry.   Your comparison to restaurants, theaters, etc is not correct, it is more like comparing a bus, train or a taxi, all are in the ground transportation industry, some are larger than others.

 

While exploding steamboats may be a thing of the past, you only need to look at ferry accidents in recent years in Korea, Philippines, and Indonesia to know why the US should keep their ferries under US flag and US safety regulations.

 

And what is the legal definition of "cruise ship"?  How would a judge know that a large ferry, which goes in the ocean between NYC and Connecticut (and there are some) is not a "cruise ship"?  And merely that the law made an exception for "cruise ships", US law does not allow for one company to benefit to the detriment of another.  The ferry operator says "I carry passengers, so does the cruise ship", why should I have to pay more and have more regulation than the cruise ship?

 

Why does the EU restrict coastwise trade to EU registered vessels?  For the very same reasons.

 

And, you know, its all moot, since CLIA shows no inclination to amend or repeal the Act.  They don't care.

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1 minute ago, retafcruiser said:

St Maarten is not a distant foreign port.

 

I thought it obviously was. The map of what is distant and what is not must be hilarious.

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43 minutes ago, AmazedByCruising said:

 

One offers a vacation with sleeping, food and cocktails, booked a year in advance. The other is an attraction where people might suddenly decide to spend their money on the Ferris Wheel instead. How is that not a completely different industry? Would you reckon restaurants, saunas and theatres also to be similar to cruising?

Exactly the same expectations of, and requirements for, the ships,crew, etc. 

Your distinction is based on the "passenger" experience, which has little to do with the standards of education, training, experience, etc. for ships and crew.

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18 minutes ago, AmazedByCruising said:

 

I thought it obviously was. The map of what is distant and what is not must be hilarious.

The PVSA specifies what a "near foreign port" is.  Anything that isn't one of those specified ports is a distant one.

A “nearby foreign port” is defined as "any port in North America, Central America, the Bermuda Islands, or the West Indies (including the Bahama Islands, but not including the Leeward Islands of the Netherlands Antilles, i.e., Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao)." 19 CFR § 4.80a(a)(2).

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