Cruise Complaints: The Federal Maritime Commission Can Help - Cruises (2023)

Cruise Complaints: The Federal Maritime Commission Can Help - Cruises (3)

You've got a bone to pick regarding your last cruise. Perhaps, the cruise line changed the itinerary on you, and you don't feel fairly compensated. Maybe your cabin was not what you expected. Or you missed your flight, making you miss the first day of your cruise, and you don't think the cruise line helped you enough.

Who ya gonna call? Try the Federal Maritime Commission's Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services (CADRS).

(Video) Exploring Commission Processes:

CADRS staff offer a cruise passenger assistance program for consumers with cruise line complaints. While staffers can't compel a cruise line to offer compensation, they can assist disgruntled travelers in reaching someone at the cruise line and facilitating a discussion between the two parties. If your phone calls and letters have fallen on deaf ears, CADRS staff can at least persuade the cruise line to listen up and give you an answer (even if it's not the one you're looking for).

Intrigued? Here's what you need to know.

What kinds of services does CADRS provide?

CADRS will provide mediation and ombudsman services for complaints within the jurisdiction of the Federal Maritime Commission. In some cases, such as problems with documentation or safety issues, they might refer you to another agency. They also can't handle cases related to gambling issues or problems with travel agents.

The department can tackle complaints related to cruises departing from the United States but not foreign cruises. However, foreign nationals with complaints about relevant cruises can seek assistance.

How do I contact CADRS for help?

The easiest way, according to Jennifer Gartlan, deputy director of CADRS, is to send a fax (202-275-0059) or email ( explaining the nature of the complaint, how you hope to be compensated (e.g. a specific dollar amount or free cruise), cruise details and names of everyone involved. Provide any documentation that might be relevant, including your cruise booking, previous correspondence regarding the issue and/or photos.

If you have questions on what you need to provide, call the office at 866-448-9586.

How much will these services cost me?

Nothing! It's completely free -- though likely your tax dollars are at work here.

How long will it take to get a resolution?

CADRS can make no guarantee as to when your complaint will be resolved. Gartlan explains that the complexity of the case and the response time for each different cruise line will affect the length of negotiations. A CADRS staffer will respond to your request within 24 to 48 hours; after that, it could take a few days, weeks or even months to come to a resolution with the cruise line.

Does using this service increase my chances of a positive outcome?

Not necessarily. CADRS can't force a cruise line to offer compensation. What it can do is make sure someone at the cruise line reviews your request and mediate the discussion that follows, even if you ultimately do not get the compensation you desire.

Where can I find more information?

Find out more about solving cruise problems, or visit the FMC website for more details.

Updated January 08, 2020

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How do cruise ships handle customer complaints? ›

Problems that aren't as easily resolved should be brought up to guest services. They'll usually hear you out, and if they can't help you to resolve it right away, and it's not urgent, they'll often ask you to write your complaint on a card. This is pretty much step 1, for any medium-bigger issues.

What federal agency regulates cruise lines? ›

The Coast Guard conducts routine onboard inspections of cruise ships to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Can you sue a cruise line for a refund? ›

If the cruise company fails to fulfill the terms mentioned on the ticket, you could sue for breach of contract. That means a cruise that is cancelled or cut short could result in a refund.

How do I complain about a cruise holiday? ›

Provide any documentation that might be relevant, including your cruise booking, previous correspondence regarding the issue and/or photos. If you have questions on what you need to provide, call the office at 866-448-9586.

Can I sue a cruise company? ›

If you were the victim of a cruise ship accident, excursion accident or even medical negligence, you may be able to sue the cruise line that was responsible.

How do you write a complaint letter to a cruise? ›

Describe the specific problem, concern or issue that prompted to you to write in. Include details like the date and time of the issue, names of crew members who were involved, and if you complained onboard, who you spoke to and what was done to address your concern (if anything).

What does the Federal Maritime Commission do? ›

About the Federal Maritime Commission. The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is the independent federal agency responsible for regulating the U.S. international ocean transportation system for the benefit of U.S. exporters, importers, and the U.S. consumer.

What law applies on a cruise? ›

The Jones Act has a portion of the law that specifically covers cruise ships and their passengers. This law, the Passenger Vessel Services Act or PVSA, applies to ships carrying passengers, versus ships carrying cargo. Learn more about the Jones Act Law/PVSA and how it applies to cruise ships in the U.S.

How do I file a complaint with FMC? ›

Agency Details
  1. Website: Federal Maritime Commission.
  2. Contact: Contact the Federal Maritime Commission. Bureaus and Offices.
  3. Email:
  4. Phone Number: 1-202-523-5725.

Can you take a cruise line to small claims court? ›

If Royal Caribbean doesn't respond to your demand letter, you can officially begin the process of filing a small claims court lawsuit. You can do this by checking your local small claims court website and filling out all the required forms they stipulate.

Can you be denied a refund? ›

It depends on your reason. If an item is faulty or has broken - in other words, doesn't comply with the Sale of Goods Act - then the retailer has a duty to offer a refund, exchange or repair. But if you simply don't like the purchase, then that's not a good enough reason.

What is a FCC refund for a cruise? ›

A Future Cruise Credit (FCC) is a voucher for future travel. It has a monetary amount associated with it, which can be used towards a new cruise booking.

Do you tip the cruise director? ›

Tips are not expected, as Tauck's tour prices include gratuities for ship staff (and hotel staff, if there's a land stay), local guides, drivers, Tauck directors and the cruise director. If you'd like to give a little extra to individual crew members you can do so in cash. There are no extra charges.

Do cruises have law enforcement? ›

Ensuring Security at Sea

Major cruise lines have sophisticated security departments run by former federal, state and military law enforcement officials and are staffed by competent, qualified security personnel.

Who would report to the cruise director? ›

The Cruise Director is the division head for the Entertainment/Cruise Programs Department onboard the ship. All staff members in the Cruise Programs, Production/Theater, Musicians and Guest Entertainer divisions report directly and through Managers and Supervisors to him/her.

Can you sue a cruise line if you fall? ›

Can You Sue a Cruise Line? You'd be surprised to know how many cruise ship accidents per year affect victims, including slip and falls. If the cruise line is responsible for causing an injury or other harm, you can sue a cruise line.

Is Caribbean cruise line class action lawsuit? ›

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines – We have filed yet another Class Action lawsuit related to the cruise industry's dramatic mishandling of the Coronavirus pandemic.

How much crime do you get on a cruise? ›

Consider that about 12-14 million people cruise from the United States in a given year. With 137 total crimes reported in the past four quarters, that means the chances of being a victim on the ship are about 1 in 88,000.

How do you write a strongly worded letter of complaint? ›

How to write an effective complaint letter
  1. Be clear and concise. ...
  2. State exactly what you want done and how long you're willing to wait for a response. ...
  3. Don't write an angry, sarcastic, or threatening letter. ...
  4. Include copies of relevant documents, like receipts, work orders, and warranties.
Sep 4, 2015

Who do I complain to about a cruise? ›

Who ya gonna call? Try the Federal Maritime Commission's Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services (CADRS). CADRS staff offer a cruise passenger assistance program for consumers with cruise line complaints.

How do you write a good letter of complaint? ›

Information To Include in Your Letter
  1. Give the basics.
  2. Tell your story.
  3. Tell the company how you want to resolve the problem.
  4. Be reasonable.
  5. File your complaint.
  6. Your Address.
  7. Your City, State, Zip Code. [Your email address, if sending by email]
  8. Date.

Are maritime cases federal? ›

Maritime cases do not arise under the Constitution or laws of the United States for federal question purposes and must, absent diversity, be instituted in admiralty where there is no jury trial.

What is the purpose of maritime Organization? ›

"The mission of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as a United Nations specialized agency is to promote safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping through cooperation.

Does the federal government control shipping ports? ›

Here, unlike many countries, there is no national port authority. Rather authority is diffused throughout all three levels of government-federal, state and local. That stems from the federal character of the U.S. Constitution, which reserves certain powers for the national government and others strictly for the states.

What is the Jones rule for cruising? ›

The Jones Act (also known as the Passenger Services Act) does not allow ships of Non-U.S registry to embark and debark guests at two different U.S ports, since travel between U.S. ports is prohibited on foreign flagged ships. Note: Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands (St. Thomas; St.

What is the Jones Act for passengers? ›

It is this act that prohibits commercial vessels such as cruise ships from allowing passengers to board at one U.S. port and debark at another U.S. port.

What is the Jones Act law? ›

Under the Jones Act, foreign carriers and crews are banned from domestic water routes. Cabotage from one U.S. port to another is restricted to U.S.-built, -crewed and -flagged vessels. The requirement was a protectionist economic strategy designed to assist America's shipyards and maritime fleet.

How long does an FCC complaint take? ›

Your provider has 30 days to provide you with a response to your complaint. We encourage you to reach out to your provider to attempt to resolve your issue prior to filing a consumer complaint.

How do I raise a PMC complaint? ›


Log in using employee id. Grievance dashboard (as per selected role) Category wise Grievance details (Assigned, In Process, Rejected, Closed, Reopened) Grievance workflow (option of taking action on the shown grievances)

Can I file a complaint with OPM? ›

If you have a complaint that is not related to a disputed claim, email your complaint to

What do you say when a customer complains about shipping? ›

Sample Response to a Shipping Complaint

Hi, [Customer Name], Thank you for letting us know you haven't yet received your order. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and understand your frustration. According to our records, your package was sent out from our warehouse on [Date].

Who do I write too to complain about Royal Caribbean cruise? ›

Report your issue or complaint with Royal Caribbean by contacting its Post Cruise Guest Relations department. Call 800/256-6649 (514/285-9723 for outside the U.S.). If you prefer written complaints, email it or send a letter to Post Cruise Guest Relations at 1050 Caribbean Way, Miami, FL 33132.

What happens if you misbehave on a cruise? ›

All cruise lines have Codes of Conduct, and passengers agree to abide by them when they sign their cruise contracts. The rules apply to adults, teens and kids. Misbehave onboard, and the lines reserve the right to end your cruise then and there (not to mention ban you from cruising their ships for life).

How do you write a strong customer complaint response? ›

Use the following tips to better handle customer complaints:
  1. Get into the right state of mind. ...
  2. Call them by name. ...
  3. Show sympathy. ...
  4. Thank the client for reaching out. ...
  5. Explain what you're going to do. ...
  6. Offer a discount. ...
  7. Sample customer complaint response.
Sep 20, 2022

How do you escalate an issue with Royal Caribbean? ›

This ensures we can make things right while you're away. If you're unhappy with the resolution we provided onboard, please email to send us further details or call us on 0344 493 2063.

Does maritime law apply to cruise ships? ›

So, if a ship is moving goods within the U.S., they must abide by all U.S. maritime laws. The Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) applies to cruise ships because cruise ships move passengers.

What is the cruise ship passenger Protection Act? ›

The Cruise Passenger Protection Act should be passed to take an important step forward for progress to enhanced safety and security for cruise passengers. These benefits will enable the public to self- protect by providing accurate factual data for travel decisions in the free speech enabled advertising marketplace.

Do cruise lines have to give refunds? ›

In the event of a cancellation of a Cruise or CruiseTour, any applicable Taxes/Fees or Fuel Supplement charges shall be refunded. For bookings made outside of the United States and Canada, a different cancellation policy may apply. Contact your local office or travel advisor for details.


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