Why Cruise Ships May Never Sail to American Ports


Have you ever wondered why cruise ships don't sail from American ports to other American ports? For example, New York to Key West, or New Orleans to San Diego. We all have Grover Cleveland to thank for this. In 1886, President Cleveland signed the Passenger Vessel Services Act to try and preserve American jobs. The PSVA only allows US flagged cruise ships to carry passengers between U.S. ports. For a ship to have a US flag, it must be built in America, be owned by an American company, and have an American crew. At the moment, there is currently only one cruise ship that meets these requirements.

NCL America's Pride of America is currently the only U.S. flagged cruise ship. In 2001, Senators arranged for taxpayers to subsidize a shipyard in Mississippi to build the first American cruise ship in 50 years. However, one year later, the company that was planning on operating the American made vessel, American Classic Voyages, filed for bankruptcy. The half completed hull was deemed "unfloatable," and was sold to Norwegian Cruise Line. NCL then had the hull towed overseas to Lloyd Werft Shipyard in Germany. To avoid embarrassment to the US Government, the ship was still marked as "Made in America," when it was delivered in 2005. The Pride of America is still the only cruise ship that is somewhat free from the Passenger Vessel Services Act, meaning she is only exempt in Hawaii.

To avoid the ridiculous requirements of the PVSA, cruise lines try their best to skip US ports altogether. Most cruises to Hawaii embark in Ensenada, Mexico rather than from San Diego. Many cruises to Alaska sail from Vancouver, Canada instead of from Seattle. However, cruise ships do still sail from many other US ports. Cruises leave every week from New York, Port Canaveral, Port Miami, Port Tampa, Jaxport, New Orleans, Baltimore, etc.

If the PVSA were abolished, more cruises would sail from the US everyday than already do. This would create more jobs like cargo loaders, tour guides, taxi drivers, etc. The ports would even generate more revenue in port fees and state taxes.

The Passenger Vessel Services Act doesn't help cruise passengers, and it kills jobs. Will this act ever be overturned?

-By PJ Morrissey: Senior Editor and Social Media Manager-