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Jones Act Question

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My fiance need to go to Honduras to take care of some immigration paperwork and I was thinking that it might be nice to take a cruise to Honduras instead of taking an airplane.

So I contacted a company that books cruises and asked if it would be possible to take a cruise that goes to Roatan, Honduras - disembark, stay a couple of weeks and then board the next cruise back and was told that that would violate the Jones Act. He said that we would each have to pay for 2 cruises each and get special permission to leave and get back on.

I looked on the internet and it says that the Jones act says that you can't take a foreign ship from one American port to another American port without first stopping in a foreign port.

It seems to me that this isn't the same thing. Were they correct or do I need to call them back and talk to someone else?

  • Report Abuse

    Jones Act or not, you will have to look at the "business" side of the equation. The price you pay is based on a round trip from point A to point B and C etc and return to point A.

    You contracted to occupy a space (or use their service) for the entire cruise. If you leave somewhere in the middle, you still have to pay for the unused portion as they cannot (or would they want to) bring passengers on board. This is not a ferry service. Think of the logistic of selling a cabin to someone who wants to get on board half way and get off somewhere else, on a one time basis, exactly opposite to your schedule.

    So assuming that they will let you get off. You are done with that trip. If you want to get on board again, then you have to pay again. They can't sell a cabin for half a trip, meaning the end result would be you pay to get there (one cruise), and you pay again (another cruise) to get back. You just can't split up a cruise like that unless it is a one way cruise like Alaskan Northbound and Southbound.

    In Europe, some ships take on passenger every port and unload passenger at every port since they are doing a loop, the people who get on board at point A get off at point A, and people get on board at point B gets off at point B. It is quite rare that people getting on board at Point A getting off at point B unless the itinary is designed that way.

    Back to the Jones Act (Merchant Marine Act of 1920). Does the Jones Act itself apply to passengers? The Act itself, no; the principle, yes.

    People should stop referring to Jones Act when they should really refers to the Passenger Vessel Act (PSA) of 1886 (46 U.S.C. 289) where it 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.” The currently penalty is still $200 which is not a really big deal but $200 back then was a pile of money.

    In a short answer, you can board a ship in an US port (Miami/Key West) and you can get off at Roatan with no problem; and two weeks alter, you can get on board at Roatan, or anywhere for that matter, and get off at an US Port. It is two seperate trip.

    Where the special permission gets involved is that the ship must send their passenger msnifrdt to authorities (immigration, homeland security etc) so they will have to know you are leaving Miami and get off at Roatan, and you are getting on Roatan and getting off at Miami.

    As to paying for the cruise twice, look at the business case at the beginning of this post. You didn't pay for it twice, you choose to not use the second half of the first cruise, and you choose to not use the first portion of the second cruise; so in effect, you took 2 cruises, and should get credits for 2 cruises on their loyalty program if you travel on the same cruise line.

  • Report Abuse

    Hi, I need to go to Honduras... and I'll take a cruise that starts in Miami and returns to the same port... but the company didn't let me disembark in Honduras.. What happens if I leave the cruise in Honduras?
    They only will make me pay the 300$?

  • Report Abuse

    You will simply not be allowed to disembark in Honduras. The ship security staff will not allow it. I fail to understand why it's so difficult to fly since there are numerous flights daily, all of which are cheaper than a cruise.

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