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Well isn't this nifty. Or Not.

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43 minutes ago, gottagoacruzn said:

Whose Desantis? Never heard the name.


Please tell me that this response was being funny.  Governor DeSantis of Florida has been in the news regarding cruises quite a bit recently.



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2 hours ago, GTJ said:

The rules were first established with passage of the Passenger Vessel Services Act in 1886, in a different era where there were U.S. flag vessels and a U.S. shipping industry to protect. There are no vessels or industry left to protect. The effect of the act, at least in the case of Alaska cruises, is to ensure that ancillary business from Americans goes to Canada. Vessels either sail from Vancouver, rather than more convenient Seattle, or stop in ports not particularly desirable for many, such as Victoria or Prince Rupert. In other words, the effect of the act is exactly opposite of its purpose: it no longer protects U.S. industry, but instead hands over commercial dollars to our Canadian neighbors. Perhaps it is time to re-think the act.


Won't waste my effort responding to your misconceptions of the US maritime industry, or the pros/cons of the US PVSA. Hopefully the "Chief" @chengkp75 can provide an expert opinion on these issues.


However, I can address your comment that Seattle is more convenient than Vancouver. Perhaps you need to review the history of Alaska cruising and how Vancouver actually handed some of the business to Seattle.


Prior to about the 1990's nearly all Alaska cruises departed from Vancouver, as it was both 100 miles closer to Alaska and provided a smoother and more scenic passage. As Alaska grew in popularity and the ships got bigger, the cruise lines wanted additional berths in Vancouver, especially on weekends. Vancouver wanted the cruise lines to utilise the existing berths during the week. Vancouver refused to build more berths, believing Seattle wasn't really an option.


However, 30 yrs later, Seattle now has about 50% of the business and Vancouver still only has 3 berths. The Seattle ships pound up/down the Pacific Ocean, cruise additional miles to reach Alaska and spend less time in Alaska, but that is a more convenient cruise???


The other key consideration is that from Seattle, you are limited to SE Alaska, you can't get up to the spectacular Prince William Sound.


The primary reason Victoria is not highly regarded, as a port of call, is because it is a brief visit and when encountering heavy weather in the Pacific, it is frequently cut even shorter, to ensure they arrive at TAR port on time.


Personally, I only ever worked Alaska out of Vancouver, but our son did a couple of seasons from Seattle and was late getting into Victoria on many occassions. One cruise nobody got ashore, as they were so late.

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17 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

Won't waste my effort responding to your misconceptions of the US maritime industry, or the pros/cons of the US PVSA. Hopefully the "Chief" @chengkp75 can provide an expert opinion on these issues.


I am a bit surprised to read your snarkiness in response to a general explanation of American cabotage law policy and history intended to inform some enquiring as to the reasons therefor. In My practice as a lawyer is almost exclusively transportation law. I have worked professionally within and for the transportation industry for the past forty years, and I publish regularly on transportation issues. Here I have provided for a non-legal audience an explanation which I believe to be an understandable rationale for the law’s provisions. You might have arguments that other rationale have these legal provisions, but to write that you “[w]on’t waste [your] effort responding” suggests that you’re looking to troll rather than to engage in substantive discussion.


The main failure of your position is that you’re not addressing the policy reasons why the cabotage provisions with American law were established. Yes, commercial and operational interests of the vessel operators are important, and in many cases will influence the statutes actually enacted by Congress (it were commercial interests that resulted in the passage of the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act) and regulations adopted by administrative agencies. But the larger picture relates to the situation that existed in the late nineteenth century. Policy was created in an era when the primary purpose of the passenger shipping industry was point-to-point transportation, and not pleasure cruises. The commercial activity in Seattle and Vancouver relating to cruise lines, whether after the 1990s or in the years prior thereto, was simply not the impetus for the legislation, and is largely irrelevant. Such activity might be cause for re-thinking cabotage laws, but that is forward-looking rather than being explanatory of prior law.


In looking forward, there are some truths that many Canadians find discomforting. First, Canada is not especially important as a commercial market. It has only ten percent of the population of the United States, and so vessel operators who are appealing to a North American market are going to mostly target Americans, much more so than Canadians. Not that the Canadian market is ignored—it is valuable—but that in the broad sense the money is with Americans, and it is the United States market that will drive the commercial interests of vessel operators. Second, crossing the border into Canada is generally viewed as an inconvenience to Americans, many of whom do not already possess sufficient evidence of their nationality and will need to acquire a passport. There is less of a burden for these potential passengers if a passport is not required. Third, for all the attractiveness that Butchard Gardens may have, no one decides on an Alaska cruise in order to visit Victoria. The same as to Prince Rupert. Both are legal necessities, not the raison d'être. Other than a very small number of cruises that actually seek to explore Vancouver Island, no one wants these ports other than as compliance with American cabotage law. These truths are denied by many Canadians in their zeal to protect their own selfish interests. They support American cabotage laws because of the commerce that it brings to Canada, commerce that would be lost if cruises vessels carrying American passengers did not have to stop in Canada. The United Motorcoach Association recently reported on how those laws result “ in ‘a huge amount of business’ for motorcoach operators [in British Columbia],” quoting John Wilson, president and CEO of the Wilson’s group of company that provides transportation throughout Vancouver and Vancouver Island. According to the report: “The [Alaska Tourism Restoration Act] waiver is set to expire when Canada lifts its ban on cruise ships, but Wilson is concerned that it could be made permanent. ‘This will be devastating to us, even more so if it continues after the pandemic,’ he said.” And with all of the reports of Canadians engaging in violence against persons perceived to be Americans traveling within British Columbia, perhaps Mr. Wilson’s concerns are well-founded. This potential loss of commerce for Canadians is understandably upsetting, and it all revolves around the public policy and rationale behind the Passenger Vessel Services Act.


Don’t get me wrong; I like Canada. I have visited every province, and have traveled overnight more often to Québec than any American state. This is not an anti-Canada diatribe. But Canadians are not all benevolent and selfless: they promote their own country's interests, and not necessarily the interests of the United States.


You’re welcome to defend Passenger Vessel Services Act, and argue respectfully that it remains viable and should continue in effect. Having worked with Princess Cruises and BC Ferries, you should be able to so argue (though I will note that I have had occasion in the recent past to correct MSC Cruises executive management of a planned itinerary that would have failed PVSA, with the itinerary having to be re-written and disrupting planned shore excursions, illustrating that not everyone in the industry gets it right . . . best to get advice from legal counsel!). But don’t just rudely and summarily dismiss the underlying policy and rationale as being based on “misconceptions.” Referring to another individual as having the “expert opinion,” as if no one else in the world may opine with similar or additional qualification, is insulting . . . it comes across as being an Ugly Canadian.

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I didn't venture an opinion of the US Cabotage Laws, hoping that the Chief, who posts on a regular basis, and like myself has worked cruise ships and SMS systems, would venture an opinion. As a Canadian, although retired, my interest is more towards the Coasting Trade Act, and how it enhances safety in our waters, with local tonnage not having to lower standards, to compete with FOC tonnage. 


My post was questioning your statement that Seattle is more convenient. It is clearly convenient for those living in proximity to the port, but the cruise industry is a World-Wide industry that is way bigger than even the combined US/Canadian market. Personally, when we cruise, the convenience of getting to/from the embarkation/disembarkation port(s) are not something we even consider.


I accept that the US  has about 10 times the market as Canada, however cruise lines utilise more than market size when developing itineraries and assigning TAR ports. When I worked Alaska, our pax load was probably at least 90% US citizens. Using your criteria, the ships should have been based in Seattle, but in those days, almost all ships were based out of Vancouver. The reason being that Vancouver is 100 miles closer, so less fuel cost, more time in Alaska and we cruised entirely through the Inside Passage. Pax didn't want to spend almost 3 days in 7 pounding through the Pacific Ocean. 


Even cruising as a pax, out of Vancouver, I found that the pax load was often about 40% US, 40% Canadian, 10% UK plus others. Even with Seattle having about 50% of the Alaska buisiness, lots of US Citizens still opt to sail to/from Vancouver, for a superior cruise experience. Unless they are coming from WA, with the number of US flights arriving in YVR daily, I doubt it is more inconvenient getting to YVR than Seatac.


Should the US PVSA be abolished entirely, other than less ships stopping in Victoria for a few hours, I don't see it having a major impact in the Seattle/Vancouver based ship allocations. However, Vancouver's long standing issue of lack of berths is definitely an issue. With having only 3 berths and no real options for expansion, the lack of berths is more likely to drive additional ships to Seattle. If more ships leave Vancouver for Seattle, similar to the past 30 years, it will be a lack of berths, rather than PVSA.


From a risk management perspective, eliminating Victoria probably won't provide a requisite increase in hours in Alaska. Since the ships often encounter heavy weather in the Pacific, the call at Victoria is often reduced to maintain the schedule. Therefore, the schedule will require additional hours southbound to ensure arrival Seattle is not delayed, which may actually reduce a port from the itinerary. The other probability is cancelling Victoria will result in a slower transit speed to save fuel costs.

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