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Would this make Alaskan cruises legal?


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If the cruise lines could work it out with the Canadian government to allow ships to stop in their ports but not allow passengers off and then go off to Alaska would that make Alaskan cruise legal? I've wanted to ask that for a while now. Seems like a simple thing to work out with Canada if it would make Alaskan cruises legal. 

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Not sure it would even be necessary. An Alaskan cruise can start/stop in Seattle and make all the routine stops in Alaska and never port in Canada. The difference between Vancouver and Seattle is less than 3 hours by car. Ships have some leeway with speed. Obviously a ship will not go 52knots (60mph).  More like 20 knots so estimate 9 additional cruise hours. This means burning a bit extra fuel or perhaps dropping a stop or spending a hour less at each stop. I've been on cruises where itinerary or times change and are made up one way or another. Making up about 9 hours on a week long cruise by moving a port from Vancouver to Seattle should not be too difficult.

No doubt there are other logistics in the supply chain but RCCL has plenty of people to figure that out.

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That sounds like a reasonable request but it depends how committed the Canadian government is to sticking with their original statements:

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced two new Interim Orders, which prohibit pleasure craft in Canadian Arctic waters and cruise vessels in all Canadian waters until February 28, 2022. This means:

  • Adventure-seeking pleasure craft are still prohibited from entering Arctic waters.
  • Passenger vessels carrying more than 12 people are still prohibited from entering Arctic coastal waters, including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and the Labrador Coast.
  • Cruise vessels carrying more than 100 people are still prohibited from operating in Canadian waters.
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The ability to go faster and mature it to Seattle is not the major issue. What is at issue is the law that requires any ship departing from the US to dock at a foreign port. 

 

https://www.smslegal.com/legal-news/cant-sail-one-port-another-america/

 

Either the US maritime law will have to be changed in some way or a concession for temp docking in Canada will have to happen. It's a good idea but at the same time may end up being irrelevant anyway by the time cruising actually restarts. 

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11 minutes ago, MuttMutt said:

The ability to go faster and mature it to Seattle is not the major issue. What is at issue is the law that requires any ship departing from the US to dock at a foreign port. 

 

https://www.smslegal.com/legal-news/cant-sail-one-port-another-america/

 

Either the US maritime law will have to be changed in some way or a concession for temp docking in Canada will have to happen. It's a good idea but at the same time may end up being irrelevant anyway by the time cruising actually restarts. 

Yes this is what I was talking about, and I guess I thought everyone knew about this law. Would just stopping in a Canadian port but not allowing passengers off get around the law? Would it count because to me it would. Nothing in the law says passengers must get off the ship, just to visit a foreign port. 

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30 minutes ago, Ditchdoc said:

Not sure it would even be necessary. An Alaskan cruise can start/stop in Seattle and make all the routine stops in Alaska and never port in Canada. The difference between Vancouver and Seattle is less than 3 hours by car. Ships have some leeway with speed. Obviously a ship will not go 52knots (60mph).  More like 20 knots so estimate 9 additional cruise hours. This means burning a bit extra fuel or perhaps dropping a stop or spending a hour less at each stop. I've been on cruises where itinerary or times change and are made up one way or another. Making up about 9 hours on a week long cruise by moving a port from Vancouver to Seattle should not be too difficult.

No doubt there are other logistics in the supply chain but RCCL has plenty of people to figure that out.

I don’t think you have full understanding of the trade regulations and immigration issues in what you propose. The route you have described would be illegal for any of the major large cruise lines. 

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1 hour ago, RCIfan1912 said:

If the cruise lines could work it out with the Canadian government to allow ships to stop in their ports but not allow passengers off and then go off to Alaska would that make Alaskan cruise legal? I've wanted to ask that for a while now. Seems like a simple thing to work out with Canada if it would make Alaskan cruises legal. 

I read on another board that these “technical stops” as the industry calls them, do not satisfy the PVSA

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29 minutes ago, TXcruzer said:

I don’t think you have full understanding of the trade regulations and immigration issues in what you propose. The route you have described would be illegal for any of the major large cruise lines. 

No doubt there are things I do not understand but I do not see what the issue would be for a ship sailing from a US port to a US port. RCCL sails from Miami to Key West (or did) on a regular basis. The major issue I see from a previous post is "Cruise vessels carrying more than 100 people are still prohibited from operating in Canadian waters. " It might be hard to get from the state of Washington to the state of Alaska without going through Canadian waters  since the inside passage does go though British Columbia.

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20 minutes ago, Ditchdoc said:

No doubt there are things I do not understand but I do not see what the issue would be for a ship sailing from a US port to a US port. RCCL sails from Miami to Key West (or did) on a regular basis. The major issue I see from a previous post is "Cruise vessels carrying more than 100 people are still prohibited from operating in Canadian waters. " It might be hard to get from the state of Washington to the state of Alaska without going through Canadian waters  since the inside passage does go though British Columbia.

I am paraphrasing here but essentially the PVSA disallows a foreign flagged ship from transporting passengers between US ports without a stop in at least one foreign port. 
 

In order to accomplish what you have proposed, one would need a US flagged ship, manufactured wholly within the USA, manned by an American crew to be compliant. 

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1 hour ago, TXcruzer said:

I am paraphrasing here but essentially the PVSA disallows a foreign flagged ship from transporting passengers between US ports without a stop in at least one foreign port. 
 

In order to accomplish what you have proposed, one would need a US flagged ship, manufactured wholly within the USA, manned by an American crew to be compliant. 

I see. Now I understand better why most of the Alaskan cruises depart from Vancouver. Its kind of a goofy rule to me.  I guess the second part is what covers the various "river cruises" is the US.

II also cruised from Baltimore to Bar Harbor Main and then on to Nova Scotia and back. So that makes sense as well with this PVSA. Still kinda of goofy to me but it is what it is.

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Timely to the conversation

 

https://www.cruisehive.com/royal-caribbean-not-to-cancel-any-canada-and-alaska-cruises/47061

 

"Royal Caribbean has now announced it will not be canceling any voyages. This includes cruises embarking/debarking from Canadian ports and those itineraries touching on Canadian ports of call."

 

“As the state with the most extensive shared border with Canada, the Alaska Delegation has worked in good faith to seek a compromise over border crossing restrictions due to COVID-19, keeping in mind the health and safety of Alaskans and Canadians. Canada’s announcement to ban all cruise sailings carrying 100 people or more traveling through Canadian waters, without so much as a courtesy conversation with the Alaska Delegation, is not only unexpected—it is unacceptable.” Senators from Alaska

 

"An amendment to the passenger PVSA seems to be one viable option if Canada refuses to budge."

 

 

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52 minutes ago, Ditchdoc said:

Timely to the conversation

 

https://www.cruisehive.com/royal-caribbean-not-to-cancel-any-canada-and-alaska-cruises/47061

 

"Royal Caribbean has now announced it will not be canceling any voyages. This includes cruises embarking/debarking from Canadian ports and those itineraries touching on Canadian ports of call."

 

“As the state with the most extensive shared border with Canada, the Alaska Delegation has worked in good faith to seek a compromise over border crossing restrictions due to COVID-19, keeping in mind the health and safety of Alaskans and Canadians. Canada’s announcement to ban all cruise sailings carrying 100 people or more traveling through Canadian waters, without so much as a courtesy conversation with the Alaska Delegation, is not only unexpected—it is unacceptable.” Senators from Alaska

 

"An amendment to the passenger PVSA seems to be one viable option if Canada refuses to budge."

 

 

I hate to be the cynic, but this is almost certainly another way Royal is holding onto money as long as possible. 

I can’t imagine why the Alaskan senate delegation could expect the Canadian government to consult with them regarding their own domestic policies. 


Ammending the PVSA is just one step (and an unlikely one at that) Immigration issues for the crew are an even bigger challenge, as the Visa that crew members are on do not permit them to do an all USA itinerary. Royal would have to get the crew a H1B visa, of which only 30,000 a year are granted, and the current wait time is 36 months. 

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17 minutes ago, RCIfan1912 said:

I have to say it would be extremely foolish for the Canadian government not to allow ships to just dock, collect taxes and fees for passengers that done even get off the ship. Then they can sail off to Alaska. 

Keep in mind that traditionally these cruises start or end in Vancouver. So many are entering Canada to stay for a day or two.

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If the Alaskan delegation can convince US Congress and administration to waive or amend the current PVSA then it can happen.  This is a USG self-imposed restriction - totally fixable by 2 branches of the US gov't.  Canada can remain closed to traffic as long as they need or want....   IMO - I do not think the USG has any hint of sympathy toward the cruise industry - outside the local politics of major port cities that need the revenue.

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The crux of the issue is that the mass market cruise lines are foreign companies that operate foreign flagged ships with foreign crew.

Decades ago foreign flagged cruise ships were using Ensenada in the manner proposed.  The ship would arrive in port late in the night, spend a few hours, no passenger was allowed off and then the ship continued to a US port.  A complaint was filed and the hearing determined that this Ensenada stop was being done specifically with the intent to circumvent the PVSA.  The result is that this use of a technical stop immediately ceased.  If I am not mistaken a factor in the ruling is that there was a "coastwise qualified" US flagged ship that was operating in the same waters that the foreign ships were.  It was the owner of a coastwise qualified ship that filed the complaint.

 

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There are at least 3 US companies that have US flagged passenger ships with US crew that are not subject to the PVSA that offer passenger service in Alaskan waters so waiving the PVSA for foreign ships would likely be challenged in court by these companies.  To be exempt from the PVSA and be "coastwise qualified" they incur more stringent regulations and inspections by the USCG and they incur higher labor costs to employ US workers. 

Foreign ships are held to international standards and by international maritime convention the USCG can not apply the same standards and regulations that are used for US flagged ships to foreign ships.  It would be hard to imagine any court not siding with these US companies since the law exists to protect these companies and to prevent foreign flagged ships from competing with them given that foreign flagged ship don't have to meet more stringent US standards.  The size of the vessels is irrelevant, the PVSA applies to almost every vessel that isn't a pleasurecraft and can carry more than 12 passengers.

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Unrelated to the PVSA many years ago a gambling boat company was offering cruises to nowhere from the US.  They would sail into international water, open gambling and spend a few hours puttering around before returning to the port they left from.  They applied for a permit to start a new operation in South Florida at which time CBP became involved.  The permit was denied because the company was employing foreign workers.  The determination was that the foreign workers would be essentially working in America.  Briefly visiting international waters did not satisfy the crew visa requirements they were using.  These types of visa limit the amount of time ship crew can stay in America.  Since the crew never entered another country, they never left the US and their employment was found to violate the foreign ship crew visa that only allows temporary entry as part of a ship's crew. 

Not only did this company fail to get their new business venture going, they had to shut down their existing cruises to nowhere gambling operation.   Foreign cruise lines were notified they too cannot operate cruise to nowhere which they had been doing from the port of Miami since they too were not using US workers.  The inability to offer cruises to nowhere is not rooted in the PVSA but immigration law unrelated to the PVSA.

This is relevant now because if, somehow, the PVSA was waived in 2021 the new challenge facing the foreign cruise lines would be the same that prevents cruises to nowhere - the foreign crew would violate their ship crew visas because they would overstay their foreign ship crew visas.

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Any effort to have foreign flagged cruise ships sail past Canada to Alaska not only would require the PVSA be modified, separately immigration law would need to be modified. 

Millions of US workers in the service industry are out of work.  On land bartenders, wait staff, housekeeping positions in hotels, cooks in restaurants and so on are facing reduced hours or have been let go in every state.  What politician would ever endorse a plan to allow foreign ship crew to do the same jobs?  Foreign crew don't pay US tax.  They don't pay state tax.  They don't pay FICA like the rest of us.  Foreign crew aren't subject to any federal or state labor laws.  What elected official would ever sign their name to a plan that allowed foreign workers to work in America in this manner.  It would be political suicide.

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A recurring sentiment is that these are unprecedented times and crazy things are needed.  Indeed they are, $1.9T crazy in addition to the already spent trillions.

However I expect that will be response... pass the relief plan and put money in the hands of the people impacted by this tragedy.  Then we don't need to allow foreign companies with foreign ships and foreign crew, the people will be saved by the relief plan.

That's not my position, but that is the response I expect we will receive.

I get it - we want to cruise.  We want our Alaska and our Canada/NE cruises to go as booked. I do as well. In the spirit of Never Say Never I'm not going to say it will never happen, but... 

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Possible solution would still require the Canadian Government to allow cruise ships into its waters but this could be as simple as crossing the boundary, whatever that distance from shore is and stop and drop anchor, logging the drop and then move on back into international or Alaskan waters. In Australia we don't have a PVSA so we can cruise to nowhere however I have been on a few cruises where the ship would cross into international waters, just off a wind swept rocky island called Willis Island which is in the Coral Sea about 280 miles east of Cairns, Queenlamd, Australia. The ship stops and drops anchor so it can log an intertnation stop which allows the ship to sell duty free merchandise. Should this be allowed, the ship goes nowhere near land but still fulfils the PVSA. 

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5 hours ago, CruisingOz said:

Possible solution would still require the Canadian Government to allow cruise ships into its waters but this could be as simple as crossing the boundary, whatever that distance from shore is and stop and drop anchor, logging the drop and then move on back into international or Alaskan waters. In Australia we don't have a PVSA so we can cruise to nowhere however I have been on a few cruises where the ship would cross into international waters, just off a wind swept rocky island called Willis Island which is in the Coral Sea about 280 miles east of Cairns, Queenlamd, Australia. The ship stops and drops anchor so it can log an intertnation stop which allows the ship to sell duty free merchandise. Should this be allowed, the ship goes nowhere near land but still fulfils the PVSA. 

Entering within the jurisdiction of another nation without guests or crew having an opportunity to leave the ship to visit that country is pretty much the definition of a "technical stop".   That is no different compared to actually pulling up to a pier and waiting an hour then leaving.  The purpose is to circumvent the PVSA which makes it violate the PVSA.  

Remember in the United States cruises to nowhere are not restricted because of the PVSA.  Cruises to nowhere are now impossible because foreign ship crew visas do not allow them stay and work in the United States.  A crew that never leaves the United States (never enters another country) overstays their foreign ship crew visa.  Immigration laws prevent cruises to nowhere in the United States.

The ruling against the small gambling operations that used foreign crew in this manner came about in part because the ship owners were doing something that many people found intolerable.  They were circumventing other laws including state level bans and controls about gambling.  Once their boat was in international water the laws of the state they departed from no longer applied.  State taxes didn't have to be paid on any gaming profit.  Some states don't allow gambling at all.  The state governments were outraged that these US companies could set up shop in their state then advertise and offer gambling from their shores.  The home states were powerless to stop it until CBP determined that their foreign crew were found to be overstaying their ship's crew visas.  These states were thrilled the federal government was able to stop what the states themselves could not.

The end of cruises to nowhere was triggered not by the mass market cruise lines.  It was a gaming company that caused this.  It's all about money and companies trying to work around the intent of law for profit.  That is what ended cruises to nowhere in the United States.  

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