The 1886 Passenger Vessel Services Act requires ships going from one U.S. port to another to be U.S. flagged, U.S. built and U.S. crewed. But union requirements have made such ships prohibitively expensive. So cruise lines buy foreign ships, hoist foreign flags and take on foreign crews.
Has any progress been made toward repealing the PSA [popularly known as the Jones Act]? I understand it is the reason cruise ships are unable to sail between US ports without stopping at a foreign port en route. This protectionist legislation has resulted in roundabout routes - LA to Hawaii by way of Ensenada, e.g. - and silly expenditures - cruise lines having to buy deserted sand bars in the Caribbean to serve as "foreign ports". The reason I ask is closer to home. I'd really like to see ships stationed in San Francisco to provide more Pacific coast cruising opportunities. The few vessels that stop there now are obliged to make long Canadian or Mexican detours to satisfy the requirements of this arcane law.
Not only must the ships be registered in the U.S., under many of these statutes they must be built here as well. I know of no one in the Industry who would not like to see these Cabotage Laws (Jones Act and more) fall by the wayside. Powerful interests oppose this and it will take strong pressure from the traveling public through their congressional representatives to get them changed. This issue has never been on anyone's top burner, except for those who cruise and some who work the ships and the shipping Industry itself.
You are correct. And I agree with you we should allow cruiselines to go from port to port without having to stop in a foreign country.
I'd also like to see some of the ships built here in the U.S. and provide the jobs and revenues that come with ship building.
Can you think of some fun cruises that wouldn't visit foreign countries? I'd like to see some Gulf Coast cruises, i.e. Miami, Key West, Dry Tortugas, Naples, New Orleans, Padre Island and back. Or maybe, Charleston, Outer Banks, Virginia Beach, D.C. , Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.
And guess what....................on these cruises people wouldn't need a PASSPORT !!!!
Over many years Ii have made a study of the Passenger Vessel Act of 1886 and have had numerous discussions with members of House of Representatives as well as Senators on the subject.
To put it in blunt terms those that are for amendbing the Act are cruise ship passengers and various coastal cities. I got this from the President of one of the "Big Four" that there is nil interest by the cruise lines for a reason that is important to their "pocketbooks:. At the present time, the foreign flagged or registered cruise line is, 50% foreign owned, under Section 883 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is exempt from paying United States corprate Income taxes.
It seems every time the subject comes up in Congress for amendeing the Act, the subject of the Federal Corporate income tax comes up. "You want to use more ports, then we will amend Section 883."
Another sticking point: U.S. flagged vessel cannot have more than 25% of the crew as foreign aliens, The Captain and top offices have to be U.S. Citizens and licensed by the U.S. "We would like to see you hire more U.S. officers and seamen.""
If you wish, you might write to the lobbying mouthpieces for the industry and they will tell you why there is nil interest in amending the act. International Council of Cruise Lines, 2111 Wilson Blvd, Arlington , Va. 22201.
Then the Maritime Unions are opposed to amending the Act.
I forgot to mention two other opponents to the amending of the Passenger Vessel Act of 1886.
There is a flotilla of small passenger U.S. flagged cruise ships plying the Pacific Northwest and on the east cost of the United States. In the past they have shown
Whenever the subject comes up, Vancouver, B.C. becomes very concerned and has lobbied against the idea. Just consider what loss of business the city might experience if there were a reduction in the number of ships using their piers, airport& hotels.
My question is who in the heck cares what Canada thinks of US legislation? Aren't our lawmakers supposed to be working for American interests? No slam on Canada as I wouldn't expect thier government to pass laws to hurt themselves and help us.
The following is an "old:" article I wrote on the subject that may be of interest ?
The Passenger Vessel Act of 1886- A.K/A Cabotage
Years ago I was an advocate for opening up more ports to foreign-flagged cruise ships. I was encouraged to pursue the matter by United States Senator Dianne Feinstein(Dem) for California. Senator Feinstein had an interest in the subject because she wanted to have more cruise ships use the Port of San Francisco.I also pursued the subject with my Congressman Sonny Bono(Rep. Deceased) as well as other Senators and Congressmen and women. I determined my efforts to be fruitless.
Interestingly I received a letter from Bob Dickinson, President of Carnival Cruise Lines informing me the cruise industry is not "hot to trot for any amendments to the Passenger Vessel Act of 1886. It seems whenever the subject comes up in the House of Representatives or the Senate, there are such subject brought up as the corporate income taxes the cruise lines to do pay, hiring of more U.S. citizens, particularly officers .
The foreign flagged cruise lines are exempt from paying the Federal corporate income taxes from the income derived from United States citizens or residents if they re at least 50% foreign owned. Frankly, for practical reasons, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and others are U.S. Corporations but for being 50% or more owned by foreign nationals. The foreign flagged cruise lines are very much afraid of losing this important exemption. As long is the "big four "cruise lines are not for the changes required to permit embarking or disembarking more passengers in U.S. ports, you will not see any change.
Anyone interested there is an informative government publication, "By The Capes, A Primer on U.S. Coastwise Laws", U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration, Office of Ports & Domestic Shipping, 400 Seventh St, S.W., Washington, DC, 20590.. But- do not hold your breath. The information is free and you may have better luck asking your Congressman or Senator to get you a copy.