I know that you normally cannot join a cruise after departure or leave a cruise early without running into trouble with the Jones Act, however I've had 2 cruise lines tell me that Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are exempt from the Act and are not considered U.S. Ports.
Here's what I'm trying to do:
There's a cruise leaving from New York, sailing to San Juan and then several other nearby islands and returning to New York. I want to join the cruise in San Juan and and disembark at the end of the cruise in New York. The ship would not be stopping at any "foreign ports".
The cruise line said I'd have to pay for the entire cruise (naturally) and to let them know one week prior to the ships departure from New York that I would be joining the ship in San Jaun. They assure me that this dosen't conflict with the Jones Act (and it's subsuquent fines) since Puerto Rico is exempt from the Act. One cruise line called doing this "down lining".
Does anyone have experience with this? I own a vacation home in Puerto Rico and my partner can no longer fly (severe panic attacks) which makes getting back to the U.S. mainland impossible.
To the best of what I have read . PR is considered part of the US .
US Virgin Island is also considered part of the US.
When we sailed from Port Canaveral (2008) we didn't have to go thru customs in San Juan PR . After cruising the other Island and landing
in the US Virgin Island . Non America' passengers had to pass thru US Customs.
SS Ithaca , Volendam , Mariner of the Seas (x2) , Veendam , Coral Princess , Island Princess (x3) , Emerald Princess,Sapphire Sapphire (x3),Diamond Princess
With further research, I've discovered that for the purposes of the Jones Act, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are not considered U.S. ports. (yes, I know that Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are a part of the U.S. - but not for purposes of the Act). According to Royal Caribbean, I can take a round trip cruise from a U.S. port and leave the cruise at any point along the way. To do so requires the permission of the ships Captain, in advance by fax. This only works on cruises involving Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands when sailing from mainland U.S. ports. It will not work for the west coast for cruises to Alaska, Hawaii, etc.
I've checked with other cruise lines as well, and they all permit it, bearing in mind that you have to pay the full cost of the cruise. The trick is finding a cruise where the Puerto Rico stop is later in the cruise, so you can at least get some enjoyment of the other ports along the way and get you monies worth.
One of the cruise lines (don't remember which) called what I want to do as "Down lining".
You (and the cruise lines) are correct. The Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886 (commonly misquoted as The Jones Act of 1920, which established the U.S. Merchant Marines, and sets work conditions for mariners, and has nothing to do with passenger ships), predates the United States' acquisition of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands by many years. At the time it was written, in other words, they WERE foreign ports. And no one has bothered to change that.