How cruise lines meet financial responsibility requirements and their ticket refund policies are becoming the key focal points of the US Federal Maritime Commission's fact-finding investigation.

Commissioner Louis Sola said his Fact Finding 30 ‘COVID-19 Impact on the Cruise Industry’ investigation is focusing on three areas.

Are bonds adequately funded?

When it comes to financial responsibility, to be issued a certificate necessary to operate a vessel, cruise lines must post a bond or other security with the FMC. Sola will examine how effective these financial instruments are and if they are funded at sufficient levels.

Cruise industry parity on refunds

Concerning refunds, he will examine each line’s policy and if there are changes in government regulations or industry practices that would bring the cruise industry into parity with other sectors selling transportation and hospitality services.

Impact on ports/service providers

The commissioner will also look at how ports and service providers to passenger vessel operators are being impacted by COVID-19.

Since Fact Finding 30 was established April 30, Sola has had discussions with port authorities, municipal governments, insurance companies, US-flag passenger vessel operators and harbor pilots, among others.


No single US federal agency has exclusive or comprehensive authority over cruise lines. The FMC’s jurisdiction is found at 46 U.S.C. chap. 441. The most relevant provision relates to the financial responsibilities of cruise lines for nonperformance of transportation. These provisions apply to companies operating vessels with 50 or more berths that embark passengers in the US. As part of its industry monitoring and competition enforcement efforts under the Shipping Act of 1984, the FMC also pays close attention to developments related to port and marine terminal operator sectors.