McCAIN BILL PROMOTES CRUISE SHIP TOURISM BETWEEN U.S. PORTS
August 5, 1999WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Continuing his efforts to increase domestic cruise opportunities for the American cruising public, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today introduced the U.S. Cruise Ship Tourism Development Act of 1999. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Frank Murkowski (R-AK) are original cosponsors.
"Allowing cruise ships to travel between U.S. ports will be a huge victory for port cities, the cruise ship industry, and create great traveling options for the public," McCain said. "The status quo is not serving anyone's interest. We must work with the cruise ship industry, ports, and the unions to make changes that can only result in benefits for all."
The bill would allow the Secretary of Transportation to issue permits to cruise ships already operating in other markets, to operate in the United States. It also permits, under specific and limited circumstances, non-U.S. flag cruise vessels to temporarily operate in the United States. All permits expire on December 31, 2006.
The bill also provides incentives for cruise ship operators to bring vessels under the U.S. flag and to build ships domestically for future operations.
The Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886, restricts foreign-built cruise ships from traveling between U.S. ports. U.S. port calls on international itineraries are heavily concentrated in Florida and Alaska due to the proximity of these states to neighboring countries.
"America's cruising public has been denied the opportunity to cruise to many attractive U.S. port destinations, and those ports have been denied the economic benefits of those visits because of a law that was written over 100 years ago," McCain said.
U.S. CRUISE SHIP TOURISM DEVELOPMENT ACT SUMMARY INTRODUCED BY SENATOR JOHN McCAIN, AUGUST 5, 1999
Encourages cruise trade by allowing large cruise vessels to reflag under the U.S flag for operation in the United States. Cruise ships must apply and be approved within three years after enactment.
Permits the operation of non-U.S.-flagged cruise vessels in the United States cruise trades under special circumstances: during the first year after enactment, a foreign flag cruise vessel could operate in the domestic trade for no more than two weeks on a repositioning voyage or on charter; a permit issued to a foreign flag cruise vessel would expire after the vessel has sailed for 200 operating days in the U.S. domestic cruise trades or until December 31, 2006, whichever comes first.
The Secretary is required to establish a priority system for cruise vessels setting forth the conditions under which a foreign built U.S.-flag cruise ship, and a foreign flag cruise vessel, would be "bumped" from a particular itinerary within 180 days of enactment.
Each vessel issued a permit must have all repairs or other work in anticipation of operating in the domestic trades, and all such work during the life of the permit, performed in an American shipyard.
The Secretary of the Interior is directed to give a priority to U.S.-flag cruise vessels when he issues new or otherwise available permits to enter Glacier Bay or other areas within the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.
To be eligible for a permit to operate in the domestic cruise trades, a cruise vessel must have been delivered after January 1, 1980, provide a full range of overnight accommodations, dining, and entertainment services; comply with the Safety of Life at Sea Requirements for a fixed smoke detection and sprinkler system in the accommodation areas; be larger than 20,000 gross tons or between 9,000 -20,000 gross tons if it has an all-suites luxury configuration; and be constructed according to internationally accepted construction standards as are applicable to cruise vessels engaged in foreign commerce from U.S. ports.
The Secretary, in conjunction with other appropriate Federal agencies, must enumerate all rules, regulations and operating requirements relating to health, safety, and environmental protection and other appropriate operating standards that will be applicable to foreign flag cruise vessels operating in U.S. domestic commerce within 180 days of enactment.