June 22, 2015

Struth! The real cruise to nowhere

IN his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in travel, David Ellis says America's going to enforce a law dating back to 1886, and which from the beginning of 2016 looks set to spell the end of the good old 2- and 3-night "cruise to nowhere."

It's provoked howls of protest from those who love sea-travel and aren't bothered about getting off in foreign ports, others who can't afford or haven't the time for longer cruises – and from some foreign shipping lines that are the main operators of these cruises, most of them out of New York.

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But the government says it's determined to give power to the 1886 Passenger Vessel Services Act, which bars foreign-flagged ships from sailing round-trips from American ports without visiting a foreign country. And while it won't say so, as foreign-flagged vessels don't have to pay normal American taxes once they leave port, it means cruises to nowhere are viewed as simply lucrative booze and gambling long weekends for foreign operators – and right in America's backyard.

So with no foreign ports close enough to include in 2- or 3-night sailings from New York, it's generally considered 2015's the swan song year of the cruise to nowhere.

(To comply with the 1886 law, even longer 7-day summertime sailings from West Coast Seattle to America's 49th State of Alaska, have for years included a 6hr stop in "foreign" Victoria in Canada, to get around being sailings between American ports only. For details about these Alaska cruises: sales@canada-alaska.com.au)


[] CRUISE lines like Holland America stop at Victoria in Canada to show they've been to a "foreign port" on Seattle-Alaska sailings. (HAL photo)

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