Celebrity Cruises Won't Let Passenger Leave Ship And Go Home

Hank went on a cruise with his family to celebrate his grandmother’s 75th birthday. Because of a change in his work schedule, Hank had to leave early to return home to California. But when you’re a guest of Celebrity Cruises, YOU ARE A GUEST OF CELEBRITY CRUISES. There is no “return home” for you! Be quiet! Eat waffles!

According to Hank’s full story, the cruise was a magnificent blend of fine food, shambling old people, questionable musical numbers, and gorgeous scenery. It was only when he tried to leave before the date on his itinerary that the ship’s pleasure police went into overdrive:

When we reached Juneau, I had to return to Los Angeles. But when I tried, with my luggage, to leave the ship along with the hundreds of other passengers disembarking to see the city, the ship’s crew stopped me and informed me that I would not be permitted to leave the ship with my luggage. Then, in the rudest possible way and without explanation, the ship’s security escorted me, as though I were a criminal, to the ship’s Guest Relations desk, where the security officer informed the concierge that I had tried to escape.

Apparently, some brain-dead U.S. lawmakers in 2006 passed the Jones Act, which among other things, fines foreign cruise ships that allow a ship passenger to disembark from a ship in a state different from the one from which he originally boarded. Because most cruise ships, including the one I was on, operate under a foreign flag to avoid being subject to a number of U.S. laws, the cruise line wouldn’t let me off the ship. I was afraid I would be trapped on a huge floating city, being forced to “enjoy” a pleasure cruise where I could eat, swim, eat, and learn about nature as much as I wanted — for all of eternity. I imagined being locked in the theater with Brett Nixon yelling at me, “You will stay, stay, stay, stay, stay on this amazing pleasure cruise, and you will like, like, like, like, like it and Alaaskaaah!”

For over an hour, Celebrity Cruises held me on the ship against my will as I argued with them about the ridiculous bureaucracy of it all. Finally, they agreed to release me from their custody after fining me $200 and sending me to U.S. Customs (though I had never stepped foot on foreign soil, being on the foreign cruise ship evidently required me to “reenter” the United States through Customs). The way the cruise line’s security had treated me, it was though I had tried to steal their precious waffle-making apparatus from the waffle bar and smuggle it off the ship. Except I was just trying disembark and return home, in my own country.

Eventually, I escaped their clutches. At U.S. Customs, they barely looked at my paperwork and let me continue on to the airport. But I miss the waffles.

“Held captive on a ship with delicious waffles by Celebrity Cruises” [withoutbaggage]
(Photo: trialsanderrors)

Comments

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  1. shufflemoomin says:

    That’s a good story of how crazy the world can be told in an entertaining way. I enjoyed reading that but I feel sorry for the poor guy. Is it true that there’s really a law that disallows leaving a cruise ship in a different port? You can’t get one way cruises to somewhere? I assume if that’s how that law works, that it’s US only?

  2. ohnoes says:

    I can see both sides here, but did the OP call ahead to make sure that he could do this? If he did and was informed that there wouldn’t be any problem, then we have a problem.

  3. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    And Reason #31 why I won’t ever take a cruise. The first 30 reasons have also been explained here previously by Consumerist posters.

  4. Average_Joe says:

    It’s interesting the law was so easily ignored after he paid 200 dollars. I just hope he used a credit card.

  5. CaptainConsumer says:

    Was Don Henley the captain perchance?

    You can check out any time you like but you can never leave….

  6. Coles_Law says:

    What a strange, messed up law. Although, depending on the size of the fine, I could see the cruise line’s point. I wonder if it was just the $200 the liner fined him, or if the line had to pay the government more than that and took the hit?

    I’m glad it worked out for the poster-I doubt I’d have fared as well staring down the face of mind-numbing red tape like that.

  7. petermv says:

    Yes, it is called the Passenger Services act, and it has been in place for much longer than 2006 in fact 1886, yes 1886.

    Foreign flagged ships are not allowed to transport passengers between 2 different US ports, unless there is an intervening distant foreign port. No ports in either Canada or Mexico qualify as a distant foreign port. If you choose to disembark there is a fine, and you were charged.

  8. Grabraham says:

    A little Googling finds that The Jones-Shafroth Act (the Jones Act as it is known) was signed into law on March 2, 1917, by President Woodrow Wilson.
    and
    “Does the Jones Act apply to passengers? The Act, no; the principle, yes. What is known as the Passenger Vessel Act (PSA) of 1886 (46 U.S.C. 289) states that “no foreign vessel shall transport passengers between ports or places in the United States, under penalty of $200 for each passenger so transported or landed.” “

    This is not a case of the Cruise line doing something inappropriate, they are following US law. The law was not created as a security measure, it was to protect US shipping companies from foreign shipping companies from moving freight from one US port to another. I do agree that it would totally suck to find out about the law in the way this passenger did.

  9. coan_net says:

    The reader should have asked about it and got details on what it would take to leave the ship early and not just assume it would be OK.

    I don’t blame the ship since they have rules and laws they need to follow…. did they need to be rude…. probable not…. but I would guess time at port is also time for some of the crew to also relax while many passengers are away, so the poor planning of this customer had probable messed up plans of others so I can see why some might be unhappy and rude… since the poor planning on the customer’s part could also be seen as being rude…. and if someone is rude to me, chance are I will be rude right back.

  10. qwickone says:

    @shufflemoomin: Even if there is a law, I don’t see why they just didnt say “you can pay this fine and get off” from the beginning.

  11. laserjobs says:

    FYI: The US is tracking citizens at border crossings

    “The U.S. government has been using its border checkpoints to collect information on citizens that will be stored for 15 years, raising concern among privacy advocates, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.”

    [www.reuters.com]

    We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us

  12. sassbrown74 says:

    Didn’t step foot on foreign soil? I don’t believe that. Alaska cruises all originate or at least stop in Vancouver to get around the Jones Act.

    The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (aka Jones Act) was intended to protect the U.S. shipbuilding industry and U.S. seamen. In point of fact today, it basically does the opposite.

    In order to be flagged in the U.S., a ship has to be built in the U.S. Since it isn’t economical to build cruise ships in the U.S. anymore, plus the U.S. labour requirements associated with being U.S. flagged, all cruise ships nowadays are flagged in foreign countries — Generally the Bahamas, Liberia or Panama. These ships can’t operate “domestic” service between U.S. points — hence the Alaska cruise mega hub of Vancouver.

    Not sure this law serves the U.S. so well in 2008.

  13. SkokieGuy says:

    Celebrity will not permit you to leave early on a voluntary basis, but you can be thrown off against your will. From Celebrity’s website’s FAQs:

    Can Celebrity deny Bookings, Shore and Land Excursion or even Transfer?

    Subject: General Guest Policies
    Celebrity Cruises reserves the right to refuse to accept a booking request from an individual or group and reserve the right to cancel an existing reservation. Furthermore, a guest may be removed from the vessel where, in the opinion of the ship’s captain, a guest is unfit for travel or a risk or danger to himself or herself or a disturbance or danger to others.

  14. Dobernala says:

    The idea that a company can hold me against my will is enough for me to never go on a cruise to begin with.

    I’m not letting cruise ship goons tell me I don’t have the basic human freedom of movement. This is nothing but imprisonment.

  15. BlondeGrlz says:

    @shufflemoomin: They do one way cruises all the time, although maybe they’re always from America to a foreign county or from a foreign country to Amercia.

    @Grabraham: That law is so old I doubt it gets enforced on a regular basis. This guy can’t be the first person to do this, but I’ve never heard of a cruise ship accusing someone of trying to escape.

  16. nicemarmot617 says:

    Shoulda just jumped overboard! :-D

  17. Um… we’re mad at Celebrity Cruises because they were following the law?

    Another lovely Consumerist story where the OP sounds a little confused.

  18. timmus says:

    The idea that a company can hold me against my will is enough for me to never go on a cruise to begin with.

    Well said. I’ve always avoided cruises because of their questionable sanitation and predatory employment system, but holding passengers captive at ports is quite a big strike against them. I hope word about this kind of standard procedure spreads far and wide.

  19. Balentius says:

    @drgmobile: Well, on the cruise I was on last year to Alaska, the Vancouver stop was the last one, and we were there for (at most) 5 hours… Since he was leaving early, they probably hadn’t stopped at the mandatory “foreign” stop yet.

  20. Reeve says:

    I am not sure that you can say Celebrity was following the law. They let someone off and they have to pay a fine not they let someone off and they go to jail. Celebrity should have just paid the fine. Even with the Jones Act it may be a case of false imprisonment.

  21. ManiacDan says:

    I’ll have to agree that the OP, while justifiably angry, is angry at the wrong party. This is another case of US law making it difficult for Americans to travel. The fact that the law is close to 100 years old doesn’t change anything. By US federal law, you are not allowed to permanently disembark anywhere except your originating port of call. Sorry guy, that’s the law. Write your congressman.

    Also, has no one noticed how incredibly rude he was for simply sneaking off the ship? By corporate policy (and the aforementioned federal law) the ship staff would have to wait for him and/or search the city for him. He could have delayed the vacation for thousands of people and we’d be reading “Celebrity Cruises delayed my family’s vacation by 2 days because they claim a passenger never returned to the ship”

  22. bmwloco says:

    It’s the reason why I don’t fly, float or pay anyone to haul my ass and my gear anywhere anymore.

    I get on my motorcycle and go. I’m free to go where I want, and most of the time it’s faster than bus or airplane.

  23. tedyc03 says:

    It’s called cabotage. [en.wikipedia.org]

    Wikipedia writes:

    As another example, a passenger would not be able to buy a ticket on Air Canada for a flight from Boston to Toronto, connecting in Toronto to another flight to Seattle. Even though each of the legs would be legal individually, together they effectively offer a domestic service in the U.S.

    So, say he boarded in San Francisco, and stopped in Victoria, Canada, and then proceeded to Alaska. That would constitute two points within the United States, and would fall under general cabotage rules. The Department of Homeland Security has been working hard to revise these rules for the 21st century, but has faced opposition (see [www.businessweek.com]).

    The cruise line could have handled this better, though.

  24. Hogan1 says:

    Rule #1. Never Assume

    @Reeve: So it’s false imprisonment when they’re following the law? I hardly thinking telling a passenger he can’t leave because of a law is false imprisonment. This is simply a case of the cruise line following the law. Blame the government of 1917.

  25. sassbrown74 says:

    @Balentius — Yeah, I was thinking about that afterward and that’s probably what happened. They hadn’t been to Vancouver yet, so they hadn’t yet fulfilled their obligations under the Jones Act. Good catch.

  26. giantnegro says:

    @Dobernala: Airlines do it all the time when they just park outside a gate for hours, and hours, and hours…

    @twophrasebark: Celebrity wasn’t following the law, they were following their pocketbook. If they had just stated at the start “we get fined if you leave; you owe us the fine money.” then everything would be cool.

  27. madfrog says:

    “Be quiet!” “Eat Waffles!”. That just made my day. I was considering a Cruise, but this is making me wonder. Love the picture, btw.

  28. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    Man, this is why I will never own a buisness. Once the Director told me that I was a pleasure prisoner I would have slipped him a $20 and called my boss.

    “Yeah dude, it’s totally illigal for me to get off this ship here. Yeah, either stay on the ship or its sraight to gitmo. See ya in a week.”

    See, they’ll never interview me for those the ## habits of wealthy, succesful people bookerviews.

  29. Dobernala says:

    I don’t care if its the law or not. The idea that I’m a prisoner once I get on a cruise, especially if its one of those long ones, is not acceptable.

    Blame whoever you want, but I certainly will not tolerate it.

  30. mzhartz says:

    I’m with the, why didn’t he call ahead?, crowd. At the very least, to let the crew know at the beginning of the trip that he would be leaving at one port stop instead of taking the whole cruise would have been respectful.

  31. mannyv says:

    What would have happened if he didn’t take his luggage?

  32. emmpee9 says:

    All you need to know about the Jones Act:

    [www.cruiseco.com]

    Explains it very well IMO.

  33. MeOhMy says:

    I always knew about this law because it always seems rather bizarre to me – they don’t want you to leave the ship voluntarily because of the fine, yet they reserve the right to A) maroon you if you commit various offenses on the ship and B) leave you behind in a port-of-call if you don’t make it back to ship in time for the scheduled departure.

    The true absurdity comes into play when you consider that the effective result is that you actually can depart from the ship at will…you just can’t bring your suitcase with you.

    I wonder what would have happened if he told them he was planning on buying a lot of stuffed penguin souvenirs in Juneau and wanted the suitcase to transport them back to the ship?

    Maybe you just can’t leave the ship with any suitcase large enough to fit one of those fancy-pants waffle irons. I hear if you get caught stealing a waffle iron they actually hang you from the yard-arm!

  34. Mysterry says:

    … I will have to look into the Jones Act. I didn’t even know it existed!

    Awesome story though, made me chuckle :)

  35. Simple solution, which could have saved him $200

    “Oh, I didn’t realize I couldn’t leave. No biggie, but thanks for informing me” (brings luggage back to his room.)

    Then disembarks for his Alaska “excursion” and flies home to his business meeting.

    Family (who it seems remained aboard) brings his luggage home at the end of his cruise.

    Simple.

  36. 6502programmer says:

    I side with the cruise line. Could they have handled it better? Possibly. Am I willing to “blame the victim”? Possibly. There are procedures in place to be followed if a passenger voluntarily disembarks, and it sounds like this guy thought his ship was little different from a city bus, free to get off where he pleased.

    Assuming he did it recently, the Infinity (a ship I sailed on to Alaska last year out of Vancouver) is sailing from Seattle, stopping in Sitka, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Ketchikan, Victoria, and returning to Seattle. He hadn’t stopped in Victoria, thus under PSA the cruise line was liable for the $200 fine. They needed to make sure he paid it to them before they could release him.

    Based on his description of events, I have to think this was planned. Perhaps, while booking a flight, researching port to airport transportation options, and all the other things that go with planning a trip, he should have taken a few moments to contact Celebrity and let them know he needed to disembark in Juneau.

  37. craiggers says:

    Sorry…but this one falls under “bad consumer”. It doesn’t sound like this guy did any research on his travel plans…he just assumed that he would be able to disembark whenever and wherever he felt like it. Any attempt at researching this ahead of time would have saved him the aggravation.

    With the world we live in it should be common sense knowledge that doing something out of the ordinary with your travel plans may cause problems.

  38. chargernj says:

    He shouldn’t need to ask permission. He is an American citizen who merly traveled to another state. The way he got to the state shouldn’t mater as far as the citizen is concerned. As far as I know we haven’t started asking for “papers” to go from one state to another. The rules of the cruise line are not the rules of his life. So it causes them inconveince and a fine, tough. The cruise line’s arbitrary rules do not abrogate a persons civil rights. As far as I’m concerned rights trump rules.

  39. Landru says:

    I don’t see why they just don’t let people go and then tack on the $200.00 to their credit cards.

  40. MeOhMy says:

    @ManiacDan:

    By corporate policy (and the aforementioned federal law) the ship staff would have to wait for him and/or search the city for him.

    If the captain has time to spare and is feeling particularly forgiving, he may wait a little while for stragglers. They never go looking for you.
    @bmwloco:

    I get on my motorcycle and go. I’m free to go where I want, and most of the time it’s faster than bus or airplane.

    Well we can’t all afford such fancy motorcycles. Oh sure, amphibious motorcycles are a dime a dozen but only the wealthiest among us can afford the ones that can cross oceans.

  41. kc2idf says:

    @tedyc03: In a further example, you could not take a Lot flight from Orlando to New York, even though they do (or at least did at one time in the past) have a flight that goes there. If you get on in Orlando, you have to stay on until you reach Warsaw. You also can’t board in New York for the flight to Orlando; if you are going to Orlando, you would have to have boarded in Warsaw.

  42. Reeve says:

    @Hogan1:
    Actually, this law would not constitute a defense to false imprisonment.

    FI is defined as

    i. an act or omission on the part of a defendant which confines or restrains a plaintiff;

    ii. To a bound area

    iii. intent; and

    iv. causation

    There are certain defenses to FI but having to pay a fine due to another law is NOT a defense unless the law specifically provides that it is a defense to FI.

  43. YoniX says:

    I don’t get it, what if it had been an actual life and death emergency? What if the reason he was on that cruise was as part of a business conference and his wife went into labor or something? I am all for obeying laws, but sometimes, leinincy (SP) and understanding must be shown. Oh, well, at least its not as bad as El Al lol.

  44. Reeve says:

    @Reeve:
    I will note in response to myself – consent is a defense to false imprisonment. The cruise line may have had in the contract a consent provision based on the Jones act which would provide a defense.

  45. tulanejosh says:

    I dont want to blame the victim. This is a crappy experience. That said, the cruise line was simply following the rules set out for it by the US Government, albeit in 1917. As far as the rudeness goes, many employees on the cruise ships are not exactly well educated in US law. They likely didnt know he could just pay the fine and be on his way – they probably had to wait from someone in the Miami HQ to tell them this was an acceptable solution. Many of these people on the ships, are young, just out of high school, foreigners. There’s no way they are going to know US law this in depth. They just follow the – “dont let them off the ship and bring them to guest relations” script.

  46. tulanejosh says:

    By the way, you can’ sue the cruise lines – its in the carriage contract – binding arbitration in Florida baby.

  47. tulanejosh says:

    well, let me rephrase, in conjunction with an experience on one of their cruises.

  48. stang says:

    Obviously the passenger DID NOT read the Cruise Contact that he HAD to sign before boarding the ship. It’s in the contact about that, and it has to be there by law.

    Sorry, but Blame the OP here… Ignorance IS NOT Bliss here…

  49. superchou says:

    good lord, ignorance of the law is no reason to be absolved of it. They were following the protocol – granted it seems silly but sometimes laws are.

  50. Hogan1 says:

    @Reeve: You’re free to test that one out.

  51. picardia says:

    I can see that the cruise line had to follow the stupid rules, but it seems like this can’t be the first time they’ve run into this, so you’d think they would have a procedure for it that would be swift and polite. Instead they treated the guy like a fugitive trying to flee. Common sense and good training would’ve made the guy’s delay much briefer and the experience more pleasant.

  52. vladthepaler says:

    It’s nice to see Americans bitching about their own stupid laws. Now if only they would do something about it…

  53. darkryd says:

    That’s the law, dude. The cruise line has no control over that.

    If you dont like it, complain to congress.

  54. TPIRman says:

    I agree, he is a moron for not researching obscure maritime law before leaving on his trip. Whenever I’m going on vacation — or just heading out to grab something at the supermarket, for that matter — I make it a point to review the entirety of U.S. code along with the unabridged statutes of my current state/jurisdiction. Keeps me honest.

    If only Hank could be more like Consumerist commenters, who have never ever made a mistake in their entire lives, ever.

  55. 6502programmer says:

    While this is taken from a Royal Caribbean contract, I suspect the verbiage is the same for Celebrity.

    “Passenger acknowledges that for certain voyages, such as a round-trip voyage commencing in a United States port, the Passenger must complete the entire voyage and that failure to do so may result in a fine or other penalty being assessed by one or more governmental agencies. Passenger hereby agrees to pay any such fine or penalty imposed because Passenger failed to complete the entire voyage and to reimburse Carrier in the event it pays such fine or penalty.”

    Followed later by:
    “e. Carrier may also change accommodations, alter or cancel any activities of, deny service of alcohol to, confine to a stateroom or quarantine, search the stateroom, property or baggage of any Passenger, change a Passenger’s RCT Land Tour, disembark or refuse to embark the Passenger and/or any Passenger responsible for any minor Passenger, or restrain any Passenger at any time, without liability, at the risk and expense of the Passenger, when in the sole opinion of Carrier or Captain the Passenger’s conduct or presence, or that of any minor for whom the Passenger is responsible, is believed to present a possible danger, security risk or be detrimental to himself or the health, welfare, comfort or enjoyment of others, or is in violation of any provision of this Agreement.”

    So by attempting to disembark, he was in violation of agreeing to complete the voyage. Unless and until they get him to pay the fine, they’re free to hold him on the ship.

  56. coan_net says:

    @TPIRman: He would not need to research obscure maritime law – all he would needed to do is contact the cruise line ahead of time and make sure disbarking at a different port would be acceptable.

    Sounds like he was just leaving without telling anyone – which means when all the passengers boarded, they would have been short one and he would have caused an even bigger headache if he would have been able to “sneak” off.

    I don’t pretend to know all the laws and rules a cruise line has to follow, and if I were to do anything that does not follow the normal course – I would ask first…. before assuming it would be OK.

  57. Gopher bond says:

    What would the ship security do if he just said “I’m leaving and that’s that, get out of my way!”

    That’s what I would do. Would they shoot me? Use a taser? Tackle and cuff me?

  58. 12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich says:

    While the OP story reads well, it’s somewhat dramatic. However, it’s quite possible that the OP wasn’t informed of work schedule changes until he was already on the boat (where you have access to cell towers these days), and didn’t have the ability or knowledge of needing to research this law through the internet.

    @TPIRman: I agree with you completely…

  59. KittensRCute! says:

    if the law forbids a random disembark maybe he should be complaining about the law not about an otherwise good cruise. i would love to be able to afford a cruise, and if i went and had problems i would put my complaints in the RIGHT place.

  60. KittensRCute! says:

    @coan_net: WELL SAID!!! indeed. ask first. simple as that.

  61. Gopher bond says:

    But this shouldn’t even be an issue, you just leave and ignore the security people. They can’t do anything. So you owe them $200, fine, have them bill you or charge your card. There’s no reason for them to detain you for a $200 fine. If later, you want to fight the fine somehow, good for you. But I can’t see them physically detaining you. If you get a $200 speeding ticket (arguably a more dangerous and grievous offsense) they don’t detain you until you pay because it’s not necessary. Sometimes you just need to ignore people that invoke authority. That works 9 times out of 10.

  62. quizmasterchris says:

    @testsicles: These days, they might do all of that!

    Foreign-registration ship, likely underpaid and undertrained rent-a-cops, alleged breach of “Homeland Security”… I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d respond out of all proportion to the situation.

  63. Tom Servo says:

    Cruises are usually a lot of fun. I’ll make sure to cross Celebrity off my list of possibilities.

  64. Gopher bond says:

    @quizmasterchris: Well, I’d first ask, “What are you going to do if I ignore you?”

    If they respond with, “I’ll shoot you.” then I may reconsider and I’ll definitely be taking up the issue at a later date through some legal means. But often private security forces are not ready to handle people who ignore their supposed “authority”.

    And since when is a foreign ship authorized to enforce U.S. law against me? Where did they derive that authority from?

  65. glorpy says:

    Remember how you needed your passport or photo ID and birth certificate to board the ship? Yeah, that was Customs. The moment you head into international waters, you’re going to have to come back through Customs.

    Celebrity may have handled you a little roughly, but at the very least, you would have been required to check out of the ship and not just walk away.

  66. Froggmann says:

    Next time just fake getting sick. They’ll dump you off at the nearest atoll.

  67. TPIRman says:

    @coan_net:

    If I were to do anything that does not follow the normal course – I would ask first…. before assuming it would be OK.

    Well, exactly. And that’s what makes you a better person than Hank. His inability to follow your sterling example completely justifies the Celebrity Cruise staff dispensing with professionalism and treating him like a criminal over a $200 fine. In my opinion, they did not go far enough. If I were the captain of that boat, I would have attached a car battery to his nipples for a while, really teach him a lesson.

    I am just sick and tired of people taking a casual approach to something as deadly serious as a luxury cruise. If we let anarchy prevail on the Celebrity Infinity, what next? The Club Meds? The SANDALS RESORTS? I won’t have it.

  68. vivelafat says:

    @6502programmer: And why shouldn’t he be able to get off if he so chooses? Why shouldn’t he be able to treat it like a city bus. Likely this gentleman paid a large sum of money to be on this cruise. He should be able to get off where ever the hell he wants. If the Jonas Act is such a big deal (and I doubt that it is considering the cruise ship can leave you at port if you don’t get back on time) then it is the CRUISE SHIPS responsibility to inform me of it, not the other way around. That is why I am paying the cruise ship umpteen thousand dollars (that and the free waffles)

    I am beginning to think that a Walmart Employee could punch a pregnant woman in the face while checking her receipt and simultaneously grabbing her ass and calling her unborn child a whore and you guys would be all like, “Well what was she doing shopping in Walmart in the first place, what a bad consumer” There is a place for people that blame the consumer, it’s called the world. This is the place for people that have the consumers best interests in mind.

  69. Garbanzo says:

    @drgmobile: The Alaska cruise I took went from Sitka to Juneau (the next week, with a different group of passengers, it went Juneau to Sitka). So, not *all* Alaska cruises enter Canada.

  70. coan_net says:

    @TPIRman: Chances are the crew did not know what to do in that situation, and he has “held” until they could communicate with their headquarters and/or lawyers to find out what needed to be done.

    Someone tried to use an example of if you are stopped speeding, you are not held “captive” – well yes you are – you are expected to sit there for the 5-10 minutes while the paperwork is filled out and you are then sent on your way.

    I would guess the same thing happened here – the crew knows that no one is to deport until the end, but never really instructed what to do if someone wanted to. So until they were able to figure out they just needed $200 to cover the fine they will receive to let someone leave early, they allowed the fine to be paid and let the person leave.

    To me – it sounds like the customer is trying to make it into a much bigger story then what it is…. probable trying to get a free cruise out of the publicity or something.

  71. k4ffy says:

    inaccurate headline. its should actually say “stupid US Laws won’t let passenger leave ship and go home”
    consumerist is getting quite sensational.

  72. Amy Alkon000 says:

    he just assumed that he would be able to disembark whenever and wherever he felt like it.

    Who wouldn’t?

  73. darkrose says:

    Wait a second. Not allowed to disembark except for your port of origin? Then explain the 1-way Atlantic crossings?

  74. Shadowman615 says:

    Well the 1-way atlantic crossing is not between two different states in the US, so that doesn’t count. However, there is a 1-way Seattle-to-Alaska cruise, and a CA to HI cruise, so perhaps there are some exceptions?

  75. k4ffy says:

    @Shadowman615, @darkrose
    or perhaps you have to register with DHS/Customs beforehand

  76. B says:

    @darkrose: Generally one way Atlantic crossings don’t start and end in a different US State.

  77. Shutaro says:

    I would have stayed where the waffles are… OM NOM NOM!

  78. ajlei says:

    @mzhartz: It’s possible that he didn’t know he was going to have to leave early until some time into the cruise.

  79. CMU_Bueller says:

    @Dobernala: Fine, don’t take a cruise then. No ones making you go on one.

  80. TPK says:

    Couple of comments…

    First, this issue is not the Jones Act although that defines which ships it applies to. This issue is the Passenger Services Act. For some reason, it is almost universally incorrectly attributed. You can read about the PSA here: [en.wikipedia.org]

    “Can they really hold me on the ship?” Definitely. The captain of a ship is the law. If his rules say you don’t get off the ship with your luggage, then you aren’t going to be allowed off the ship with your luggage.

    “Rent-a-cops!?” Hardly… From [cruisediva.com] you find this, which is fairly well known among those in the cruise industry:

    “Some cruise lines recruit on board security personnel from the ranks of former British Gurkha Regiments. From Nepal, the Gurkhas are renowned as soldiers of the highest calibre.”

    As stated earlier, this entire issue is the result of protectionist legislation passed well over 100 years ago. The solution is in Congress, not in consumer complaints to the cruise industry.

  81. MercuryPDX says:

    @ManiacDan: I’ve never been on a cruise, so pardon the question… but do they REALLY keep track of all the people coming and going on the ship? I would assume it’s not an issue until someone says “Excuse me, Captain? I haven’t seen my husband since we left port.”

  82. MercuryPDX says:

    @Troy F.: B) leave you behind in a port-of-call if you don’t make it back to ship in time for the scheduled departure.

    Ok… so they DON’T check.

  83. Quilt says:

    He should have smuggled his stuff off like a drug dealer. When they ask, “What’s that big squarish thing under your shirt?” Just say, “It’s a disease, and I’ll thank YOU for not drawing attention to it.” Then cry and run off the boat.

  84. EricaKane says:

    @Reeve: Puh-leeze. This person almost certainly signed a contract that said he would abide by the rules of the ship and agreed to follow order issued by the ship’s captain through his various agents (i.e. security guards). Furthermore, I am certain that maritime laws and regulations (which if the ship was in U.S. waterways it is subject to) says that the ship captain is in control of his entire ship, crew and passengers and has the right to restrain their movement.

    Your absurd interpretation of false imprisionment would enable every passenger stuck in any type of transportation vehicle to sue for false imprisionment if they ask to leave…i.e. people stuck in planes sitting on the tarmac.

  85. suzy-q says:

    @MercuryPDX: Having just gotten back from a cruise on Royal Caribbean to the Bahamas last week, I can say that they most definitely track your every move getting on and off the ship. When I boarded the ship, I was issued as card that served as room key, on-board credit card, and tracking system all in one. Anytime you left the ship for a port, they would scan your card, and everytime you came back on, they would scan you in again. Don’t know how it is on other cruise lines, but that’s how it was.

  86. 6502programmer says:

    @Amy Alkon: Who Wouldn’t?

    Someone who bothered to read their cruise contract, that thing you have to indicate agreeing to before they’ll let you board the ship?

  87. 6502programmer says:

    @Shadowman615: They stop at foreign ports, most likely. I know that the LA/Hawaii cruises have a stop, typically in Ensenada, usually for a half hour.

  88. coan_net says:

    Yes – Most cruise lines (I would guess all) keep track of who is getting off and on a ship.

    Most ships talk tough about leaving a person behind if they do not make it back to the ship on time – but most ships also build in extra time (like an hour) from the time everyone needs to be on the ship to the actually leave time – and if necessary, they can wait longer….. since most ships take their time from going from port to port…. and can speed up the ship and still make the next port in time. (The one cruise I was on I remember took off about 4 hours late from one port – not sure of the issue, but was at the next port on time…. they just went faster.)

  89. MeOhMy says:

    @MercuryPDX: Yeah…as Suzy-q mentions they have a record of when you leave and return (or have not returned), but if you don’t come back in time they won’t come looking for you.

  90. RChris173 says:
  91. Newser says:

    Since he didn’t inform the ship that he was departing early, it seems likely they suspected he might also be skipping out on his bill for shipboard purchases, bar tab, room service, etc., which usually adds up to a hefty amount by end of the cruise. Though they didn’t accuse him of jumping ship on the charges, it would explain a bit of why they were less-than cordial handling the initial situation.

  92. dragonvpm says:

    Well after listening to the OCD folks who apparently check every possible contingency when planning any activity they undertake, I’m reminded that the reason some of us came to the Consumerist in the first place was so that we could LEARN what our options are, things to look out for, and in general figure out how to be better consumers who aren’t scammed as easily.

    Is it really that hard to not somehow blame the OP in situations where everyone did something non-optimal? I mean, seriously, that’s pretty much everyday life. I don’t do everything perfectly going to the store, they don’t do everything perfectly and we end up with some sort of disagreement that needs to be resolved. Fine, what now?

    In this case, for instance, the cruise ship should have a painless way for someone who needs to get off the ship early to get off the freaking ship. Sure, most people won’t have to, but a death/serious accident in the family, emergency at home, etc… all these things happen and when you’re ferrying 2,000+ people per boat around at a stretch you have to figure someone is going to need to get off the ship early.

    By contrast, sure the OP could have called to check and find out what the options for leaving early were, but clearly there wasn’t a plan in place so he wouldn’t have gotten any useful information. The crew’s behavior makes that obvious. What should have happened is he should have called ahead and they should have told him that he needed to talk to guest relations so they could charge him the $200 for the fine because of the Jones act, but they’d happily arrange to have someone help him with his luggage if he needed it and they could have a cab waiting to take him to the airport etc…

    When this particular person tried to leave early, they should have politely asked him to head over to guest relations and while he was paying the $200 they could have offered to make arrangements for him to get to wherever he needed to go. At least that’s what would have happened if they had planned ahead for that possibility. Frankly I’m amazed that they clearly don’t, that just seems absurd given the lengths that they go to to cater to their clients.

    Ultimately I think that’s what a lot of folks are losing sight of. Cruise ships make their names by catering to their clients. It’s all about who can give you the best possibly experience and this just comes as a jarring omission given the realities of life. So, it’s nothing like being pulled over for a ticket, or flying on a commercial airline, and it shouldn’t have to be about contract details, they’re in the hospitality industry and even when dealing with less than ideal customers they should be able to plan ahead for most things that might come up. Sure, things might get unpleasant if they charged someone the $200 and they didn’t want to pay it and clearly they might need to enforce contracts at that point, but this isn’t some bizarre situation that never possibly comes up. They could have had some plan in place to deal with it and they seriously dropped the ball in this case.

  93. quizmasterchris says:

    @TPK: … which is still rent-a-cops.

    Gurkhas are soldiers, and aren’t trained in dealing with US law/civilian rights, customer service, standard American police or security officer procedures or the like. These are just people who are told that they have the authority to use force. Look what happens sometimes when Homeland Security or police who are versed in that stuff go wrong, have a bad day or don’t like your face.

    I’ve been to Nepal, and seen Nepalese police procedure, i.e. people getting the crap beaten out of them in the street for selling vegetables in a no-selling-veggies zone.

    Cruise ships are just scary – nebulous patchwork crews of mistreated people on boats that have been registered with the intention of avoiding as much regulation as possible, operating in international waters part of the time… it’s actually a testament to the basic decency of most people that every single trip doesn’t end in a robbery- and rape-fest…

  94. Grive says:

    @MercuryPDX: They do check… but if you take your sweet time, they might just not wait for you.

    The note Troy makes is so that people don’t get all sue-ish when they’re left behind after they decide to get plastered on the ganja and cheap liquor and end up in a bench in some park in Jamaica.

  95. megafly2 says:

    What kind of moron signs, but doesn’t read a contract with an organization who could lock you in a room and starve you, strand you on a desert island, or have you imprisoned in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. Maritime law is not big on the human rights and the man on the bridge has huge power over you.

  96. Etoiles says:

    @MercuryPDX: Yes, they do track all of the comings and goings. Thoroughly.

    A modern cruise ship issues magnetic swipe cards to every passenger (EVERY passenger) at the time of embarkation. You must swipe the card while going through security when you disembark for a port excursion and when you board again as well. Those cards are your on-board spending account, your stateroom key, and the way the cruise ship tracks your comings and goings. The staff and crew WILL know if a passenger swiped out in the morning but not back in in the afternoon.

  97. Dobernala says:

    @EricaKane: A person wanting to get off a plane in the middle of takeoff, taxiing, or flight is NOT the same as a person wanting to simply get off at a port.

    Fail.

  98. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @Amy Alkon:

    Who wouldn’t?

    Anyone who actually read terms and conditions they agree to when purchasing the cruise tickets wouldn’t. This isn’t obscure, and it’s not uncommon. Someone already posted the relevant portion of Royal Caribbean’s contract, Carnival has the following:

    “Guest acknowledges that, for a voyage commencing in a United States port for a round-trip voyage via one or more United States ports, Guest must complete the voyage and disembark at the embarkation port. Failure to do so may result in a fine or penalty being imposed by the United States Customs Service or other governmental agency. In consideration for the fare paid, Guest agrees to pay any such fine or penalty imposed because of Guest’s failure to complete the voyage.”

  99. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @Shadowman615:

    However, there is a 1-way Seattle-to-Alaska cruise, and a CA to HI cruise, so perhaps there are some exceptions?

    The restriction on disembarkation is limited to ships of foreign registry. American ships can allow passengers to embark disembark in any US port. There are some exceptions to the restrictions on foreign ships, though – if they service a route that has no competing US ships, they are exempted from the fines.

  100. dragonvpm says:

    @TinyBug: The OP didn’t seem to complain about paying the fine, but rather he was upset about how he was treated by Carnival.

    The contract clearly states that he’ll pay the fine, where does it say they need to treat him the way they did? Obviously their lawyers know about the fine for letting people leave the boat early, why doesn’t their crew have instructions about how to deal with the situation in a non-confrontational manner?

  101. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @dragonvpm:

    When this particular person tried to leave early, they should have politely asked him to head over to guest relations and while he was paying the $200 they could have offered to make arrangements for him to get to wherever he needed to go.

    A good point. Even though this rule has been in place for decades, and can be found in the carriage contract of every cruise line, the fact is that many people don’t know about it. This does sidetrack attention away from the main point of the story – that he was treated like a criminal by a big company for doing something that he is completely entitled to do.

  102. SinisterMatt says:

    @glorpy:

    I was wondering about international waters. I thought that most if not all cruise lines that went to Alaska hugged the coast so that passengers could see the fjords and glaciers and what not. As a general rule, international waters extend 200 miles out from the coast, though there are exceptions. Nevertheless, going to Alaska you would be in Canadian waters. I don’t know about customs, but I would imagine that if you were in Canadian territorial waters, that is the same as being in Canada (correct me if I am wrong about that), so you would go through customs.

    @vivelafat:

    You’re right that this site is about the consumer’s best interests, but I would submit to you that their best interests are not always just letting them do whatever they want. Sometimes, that is the case, but not always, as in this case. And no, if a WalMart employee punched a pregnant lady in the face and grabbed her heinie while checking receipts, I would call for that guys arrest and firing, possibly even a civil suit against the guy and/or Walmart

    I think the cruise line acted within what they were required to do by law, even if it was a little rough.

  103. lidor7 says:

    Seems like the Celebrity Cruises was justified in their actions for the most part. It sounds like they could potentially get into a lot of trouble if they don’t follow the correct procedure.

    What would’ve been nice and more appropriate, though, is to either pay the fee for him or let him “sneak” off the ship. I figure if he leaves the cruise early, they’ve already taken his money and that just means one less person they have to cook food for.

    In terms of vacations, I think cruise lines have a lot of potential for repeat customers, but that depends on the experience they get, of course. The smart thing would’ve been to be as accommodating as possible despite the unfortunate law.

  104. bigbadbyte says:

    Eh, I don’t think the cruise line is completely at fault. Laws are laws, they could have treated him a little better, but if they had let him off the ship immediately it would have been their asses on the line, so they had to hold a little firmer on this.

  105. 6502programmer says:

    I’m normally not one of the “blame the victim” folks, but in this case, I think there may be a lot more that wasn’t stated. First of all, he knew–KNEW–ahead of time that he’d be leaving the ship early. Even after seeing, when he got off the ship in Sitka, that they have you swipe out and swipe in, he STILL failed to let them know he would be cutting out early.

    Next, being treated “as though [he were] a criminal” is certainly open to interpretation. That they “marched” him from the gangway to to guest relations is not a surprise. That he was escorted by security, again, is not a surprise. That it took some time to sort out what he wanted to do and how it would be handled, again, is not a surprise.

    Having been on Celebrity before, and this very ship even, I can tell you that for a service perfectionist like me, I was thoroughly and completely satisfied with my vacation. That ship was, to me, one of the last bastions of hospitality in the hospitality industry. I think Hank is telling about a quarter of the story, and being a wee bit hyperbolic about what he is sharing.

  106. stang says:

    Cruise ships are fined for staying at a port beyond their expected departure time. Ships buy docking/tendering time from that countries port authority and there are sever penalties for departing early OR late.

    Ships WILL stay in port longer if they know the passenger(s) are on their way to the ship due to a cruise ship sponsored or booked excursion, or activity that caused then to be late. But if a passenger booked his/her own excursion outside of what the cruise line offered (i.e. on their own),a nd it’s late returning the passenger to the ship, the passenger will be out of luck because the cruise ship does not know you are on “X” excursion. The same goes for if you are just shopping in town or wandering around the nearby town(s).

    There are cruise ship representatives in each port for your particular cruise-line. Look at you ships Navigator or activities sheet you get each day, it’ll mention “ships representative” on there. If you miss the ship, YOU are responsible for contacting this person/company and arranging, AT YOUR COST, transportation to the ship’s next port of call.

    All cruise ships are required to track passenegers that board and disembark from the ship at it’s point of origin, each port of call, and disembarkation point. Some ships are less restrictive of this than others, but they have to have some way tracking who is on/off the ship at any point and time.

  107. wickedpixel says:

    I’m not understanding why the guy didn’t think to inform the cruise line of his plans ahead of time. Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t ship keep track of the passengers getting on and off at port so they know if someone doesn’t come back? What did he expect to happen when he didn’t come back – that the ship just take his family’s word for it that he went home? If that were the case, that’s a real good way of “disposing” of someone – kill him at port and just tell the ship, “oh, he decided to go home.” yeah, that would fly…

  108. econobiker says:

    Wow, $200 back then is like $10,000 now.

    A little Googling finds that The Jones-Shafroth Act (the Jones Act as it is known) was signed into law on March 2, 1917, by President Woodrow Wilson.
    and
    “Does the Jones Act apply to passengers? The Act, no; the principle, yes. What is known as the Passenger Vessel Act (PSA) of 1886 (46 U.S.C. 289) states that “no foreign vessel shall transport passengers between ports or places in the United States, under penalty of $200 for each passenger so transported or landed.”

  109. Reeve says:

    @EricaKane:
    Dobernala has already responded to your comment but I will elaborate.

    In certain situations you impliedly consent to not being let off such as when you are on a tarmac or in flight the crew need not let you go. This is not such a situation. As others INCLUDING myself have said there may be a contractual provision giving consent in this case. That being said consent only goes so far. You agree to follow the direction of the captain and his agents if there is a safety need. You probably do not agree to follow their order simply to save $200. If the ship is to pay this money if you get off in the wrong place they can contract for you to pay this before getting off.

    Interestingly Mr. Kane, is that FI has been asserted successfully on planes when a passenger has been stuck on the plane due to the fault of the crew. In one interesting case a passenger let them know they would need a wheelchair to get off the plane. When arriving at destination the wheelchair was not there and the passenger had to stay on the plane extra time while they got a wheel chair. This was held to FI.

  110. EricaKane says:

    Whoever said it mattered if they were at port – it doesn’t matter. You are on the ship, you are under the captain’s command. Why not talk to all the people who want to get off planes when they are sitting at an airport gate – the captain does not have to let them off. So fail to you too.

    And….”You agree to follow the direction of the captain and his agents if there is a safety need.” No you agree to abide by the captain’s decisions at all times.

  111. EricaKane says:

    And, as far as the wheelchair suit you claim, you even state it “was due to the fault of the crew” Where was the fault of the crew in this case? All I see is them trying to abide by a federal regulation?

  112. EricaKane says:

    Oh and finally, everyone should read:
    [media.celebritycruises.com]

    Says right there, the Cruise line may refuse to accept a booking request if said request violates governmental regulations.

    The request to disembark and leave the ship permanently is a booking request. There you go.

  113. jt307 says:

    Perhaps in our zeal to assess blame we have overlooked the real problem here. Most cruise ships fly a foreign flag. While as a passenger that really doesn’t matter to most, in a situation such as this, it does. From my reading of the act, it seems the problem arises when the carrier is foreign. While many passengers may know that the ship is flagged foreign, most don’t see the importance. But these companies do this to avoid US taxes and most importantly OSHA, Workmen’s Comp, and other laws which govern their treatment of employess. The countries they are flagged under don’t have the strict laws regarding working hours, and injuring reporting, and while you and the kids are eating and swimming and playing shuffle board, some waiter is wrapping up the back end of his 5th 16 hour day in a row. I think if the passengers knew this, and knew the effect that a foreign flag has on them, some of these carriers could be pressured into switching their country flags.

  114. Gopher bond says:

    U.S. case law supports the notion that you cannot forceably restrain someone just to enforce the terms of a contract.

    Even if I eat at a restaurant and get up to leave without paying, anyone forcibly detaining me may be found in the wrong, depending upon circumstances of course.

    So, given that both are based on U.S. laws, seems like there is some relevance here that despite a contract I signed, forcible detainment is at least in some instances, wrong.

  115. Gopher bond says:

    …but of course the guy with the gun always has immediate authority.

  116. Gopher bond says:

    …and I’d never sign up for a cruise, yech.

  117. Con Seannery says:

    I want a waffle bar in my house…

  118. Reeve says:

    @EricaKane:
    It is funny that you use a cruise ship site to support your claim.

    I do not know if you are an attorney but if you are look up defenses to intentional torts. Government fine is not a defense.

  119. lannister80 says:

    @petermv: Yet you still have to go through Customs to “re-enter”. What a load of crap.

  120. BytheSea says:

    I can’t imagine the liability nightmare of leaving a passanger off in a port of call. When you’re on a group vacation, you all have to stick together. They can’t let people just wander off like cats.

  121. Gopher bond says:

    @BytheSea: Yeah, OMG, this one time I actually went for a walk, outside, at night! Other places and people are scary and dangerous.

  122. EricaKane says:

    @Reeve: Do you know anything about maritime law? I mean seriously, a captain of a ship has almost unlimited discretion to do things aboard his boat – whether the boat is at port or not. Anything could be labeled as a safety/security issue – including letting a passenger disembark prior to completion of his trip. So yeah, the moment you get on a cruise boat, you have consented to almost anything a captain does or orders. Its a fact of life. You agreed, when you got on the boat, to take orders from the captain and his company about when you could leave the ship. So this guy wanted to jump ship because he has such an important job that required him to leave early (if that was really the case – why go on a cruise???), he was asking the boat or captain to violate U.S. law.

  123. Reeve says:

    @EricaKane: Would love to see a source which indicates that a captain of a ship has almost unlimited discretion to do things aboard his boat including detain passengers.

  124. Gopher bond says:

    @Reeve: I am Captain of this ship and I demand sexual favors, for safety issues of course.

  125. Reeve says:

    @testsicles:
    You win – since you are captain I guess I have no choice.

  126. JayDeEm says:

    Was this boat named ‘The Axiom’ by chance?

  127. mamacat49 says:

    @CaptainConsumer: made me laugh.

  128. ManiacDan says:

    @MercuryPDX (and others): The last time I went on a cruise was last summer, and you had to scan your room key when you left the ship. I was told it was company policy that all passengers had to scan back in before the ship would leave port. We also had to pass through metal detectors and x-ray our bags on the way back in to make sure we weren’t breaking any import laws.

    Depending on the ship, I think they would have waited for him. Either way you get a lawsuit, but at least by waiting you can say “we were only following federal law by attempting to get everyone back on board!”

  129. AI says:

    What about in the case of medical emergency? “I’m having a heart attack, I need to go to a hospital!” “Sorry sir, we have a 100 year old law that takes precedence.”

  130. kbarrett says:

    If the boat is in harbor, it falls under local jurisdiction … that law of the sea crap goes right out the porthole.

    Leave if you wish. If the twits threaten to detain you, get out a cellphone threaten to call the police.

    Do it in Canada, and their dumbass binding arbitration crap goes out the window … a BC judge won’t hesitate to seize a vessel to satisfy a judgment in Canada.

  131. Bruce says:

    @CaptainConsumer:

    “Was Don Henley the captain perchance?”

    From the looks of the photo at the top of the article, it looks as if it was the Captain of the Exxon Valdez.

  132. TheSeeker says:

    I haven’t read all the comments so I apologize if this has already been stated in some form:

    Was that man on the cruise alone? If not he should have left his luggage with his cruise partner and just got off and went home, and had his wife. etc bring the luggage home when the cruse was over.

    I have never been on a cruise so don’t know if they take roll call to know if everyone is accounted for.

  133. coan_net says:

    @AirIntake: “What about in the case of medical emergency? “I’m having a heart attack, I need to go to a hospital!” “Sorry sir, we have a 100 year old law that takes precedence.””

    Well if you have a heart attack or other medical emergency on board a ship – first you would be taken to the on-board medical center – if serious enough, then 1 of 2 things will happen.

    (1) If the boat is about to get to a port, you will be taken ashore to a local hospital

    (2) If the boat is not near port, a helicopter will be called to evacuate you off the ship… and again, ashore to a local hospital.

    If the cruise line is charged the $200 fee for either of those, chances are they will bill the person…. (with probable tons of other fees for medical, helicopter, etc… type of fees)

  134. hc130radio says:

    I was on a Carnival cruise out of the Port of Galveston when Hurricane Rita (Katrina’s lil sister) swooped up from the FL Keys and was eyeballing the Galveston/Houston area. The ships captain informed us of what was going on and told everyone over the intercom that if folks wanted to get off at Cozumel, Mexico since we were going to be out to see an extra day or so. Those folks could make their own arrangements to get home, but it was only at their own risk.

    I figured my best chances were to stay on the boat to see how things would play out. Plus I couldn’t turn down 2 more days of free* waffles.

  135. Zatnikitelman says:

    First of all, the way the story reads, he was called away unexpectedly! There was no legitimate reason for him to expect a call back in while sailing.

    Second, have any of you actuallY READ the FULL TEXT of the law? United States Code of Federal Relations Title 19 Part 4.80. Granted, a chunk of this hinges on Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD being owned 75% by Americans through direct ownership and stocks. If it does, then Part 4.80a states: “No vessel shall transport, either directly or by way of a foreign port, any passenger or merchandise between points in the United States embraced within the coastwise laws, including points within a harbor, or merchandise for any part of the transportation between such points, unless it is:”
    “(3) Owned by a partnership or association in which at least a 75 percent interest is owned by such a citizen, is exempt from documentation and is entitled to or, except for its tonnage, or citizenship of its owner, or both, would be entitled to be documented for the coastwise trade. The term “citizen” for vessel documentation purposes, whether for an individual, partnership, or corporation owner, is defined in 46 CFR 67.3.”

    [ecfr.gpoaccess.gov]

    Plus, a captain’s authority only exists while a ship is under sail (being shoved through the water by its huge hunkin diesel engines in modern times :P)

  136. howtragic says:

    This is why I have never, nor will ever, go on a cruise. You have absolutely no flexibility if something in your travel plans changes. Cruising is for losers as far as I can tell. What you just love a certain island and want to stay an extra day? What if you decided you hate a place and want to bail ASAP? Can’t do that because you’re on a stupid cruise.

    Besides, the Alaska Marine Highway has very modern vessels, restaurants, and showers. You can walk on a see places a cruise ship can’t reach for $90. For longer journeys you can pitch a tent on the deck and party with people your own age. If you get to a place you really like, you can hang for more than a day. And you can leave whenever you want.

    Oh, but there won’t be a crappy mini mall on board. And there’s isn’t a buffet. And you get your own table in the restaurant. Plus you have to find your own way from the airport to the port. Also, you may actually have to converse with local people and hear cool stories about the real Alaska.

  137. MrMold says:

    Whiner left out some info. Check out the Entitled comments at the end of their statement and you should recognize it as @ssholese. I’ve cruised with me spouse and have watched people leave under many circumstances…dead, catching a flight, frog-marched to the local gendarmes for drugs, medical issues, and picking fights with the vastly underrated and hard-working crew. Each was astoundingly professional. The Entitled drunkard that felt it was every ‘Mericans gawd-given right to paw wait staff was treated with far more gentleness than I would have proffered him in the States.

    I think Whiney Boy should tell us the rest and see if we want to agree.

  138. So what would happen if I received a call and had to return home prior to the end of the cruise? Is there a loophole for me to squeeze my fat arse through?

  139. tankertodd says:

    Re: Well said. I’ve always avoided cruises because of their questionable sanitation and predatory employment system

    The sanitation is no worse than any other public place. Cruise ship illness gets all the media but it’s no worse than Anytown USA. Ask anyone who works in a physican’s office, they know when some bug is going around. It’s not news unless it’s on a cruise ship, just like a car crash that kills 4 isn’t national news but a small plane that makes an emergency landing (killing no one) is.

    As for predatory employment, I don’t recall seeing anyone enslaved or held against their will. Poor folks from other countries have an opportunity to make good money and travel they otherwise wouldn’t have. Why would anyone bemoan an opportunity just because they wouldn’t take it themselves? Such logic will keep places like Africa from ever developing because no one wants to purchase produce from poor Africans for fear of liberal guilt, while all the Africans want to do is sell produce and make money.

  140. lingum says:

    Well just tell the security people that you will kill yourself on this boat. They will let you go.

  141. dottat1 says:

    Moral of the story…

    DON’T CRUISE

  142. Cruiseranne says:

    The Consumerist didn’t bother check the facts before running this ridiculous letter. Celebrity Cruises would have been fined a great deal of money by the government if they’d allowed this passenger to leave. The Jones Act, a federal statute regulating maritime commerce in U.S. waters was enacted as a cabotage law in 1920.

    Passengers sailing on a foreign flag vessel, which is 99% of all passenger ships, cannot carry passengers between two U.S. ports (Alaska is part of the US last time I checked). This was created to protect the interests of U.S. shipping which is virtually non-existant. Today it’s silly piece of legislature, but it’s still enforced by the U.S. government.

    I’m certain the cruise line explained the law to this passenger. It’s more amusing to tear into a cruise line than state the facts. I’m surprised the Consumerist would run such a ridiculous posting.

  143. Cruiseranne says:

    *
    “Re: Well said. I’ve always avoided cruises because of their questionable sanitation and predatory employment system”

    I suggest you visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) web site. CDC officials make surprise inspections of all cruise ships which call in a U.S. port twice per year. They are very, very tough in their inspections. The results are available for the public to see on their web site. A score of 86 is passing and 99.5% of all cruise ships pass with flying colors.

  144. thomas_callahan says:

    All of you who are blaming the OP for not checking whether it was allowed to get off early or not, what’s wrong with you? Think about that — WHY WOULD HE CHECK IF IT’S OK TO GET OFF A BOAT EARLY OR NOT? In hindsight knowing what we do now, yes, but how is it reasonable to expect the average person not involved in a whole lot of shipping to know about an obscure rule like this? I could see if you were trying to leave in another country that you might want to check what the procedure is first, but it’s freaking Alaska, a US state!

    I wouldn’t check before getting off a train or bus early, and I wouldn’t check to see whether it’s OK to abandon the second leg of a flight if something came up and I had to fly somewhere else (other than maybe trying to find a way to get a refund), so why in the world would I think there might be a problem getting off of a domestic cruise early?

    And I have even read a little about these rules and how they affect shipping and cruises before in some history of Alaska books but even then I wouldn’t have made the connection that I couldn’t get off of a cruise early in Alaska.

    Plus, it sounds like something came up after the cruise was already in progress (a change in work schedule), not that he knew ahead of time that he’d have to leave early, so how exactly was he supposed to check to see if there would be a problem ahead of time? “Excuse me, cruise line, just in case I have to get off early for some reason I can’t possibly know about now, am I allowed to do so?” Really?

    The cruise line should have (knowing as they do that the rule is confusing and not widely known) immediately explained WHY he couldn’t just get off early. That would have completely defused the situation — instead they basically arrested him, I’d be righteously upset too.

    I can’t blame the cruise line for wanting to cover the cost of the fine they’ll take for allowing them off, but all they had to do was explain that from the start.

  145. shufflemoomin says:

    @craiggers: You think YOU’D have thought to look into the issue of whether you’d be allowed to leave if something came up? I would have assumed I could leave at any port I wanted, so I don’t see the issue that this guy did the same. It’s likely you didn’t know about this law until you read this either.

  146. Gopher bond says:

    @Cruiseranne: You are so full of it. There is absolutely no justification for holding someone against their will under those circumstances. People even get bail for murder.

    All they had to do was ask him to check-out first, and if he refused that, then let him go. They have his information. They’ll know he’s gone. Why the detainment and why would anyone support it?

  147. synergy says:

    I think this is crazy, but think that technically he did leave U.S. soil. Unless the ship stayed in U.S. waters the whole time…

  148. Buffet says:

    I would have simply slain them all.

  149. Wynner3 says:

    @CaptainConsumer:

    Nice Hotel California reference.

  150. Meathamper says:

    I don’t like this…so if I want to leave, I am forced to pay, and that is just insane.

  151. Anonymous says:

    You didn’t step foot on foreign soil, but you did leave the U.S. Cruise ships sail in international waters so that they can dump their waste water and avoid taxes. That’s why the shops and casino aren’t open immediately after sail away or while in port. It is your country that insists that you go through customs when re-entering the U.S. I hate to defence Celebrity, but they were correct. You need to take the matter up with your government. They are the people that caused the problem.