Ever Wonder Why You Can’t Take a Cruise Up and Down the US Coasts?

An 1886 law makes it illegal for ships registered outside the US to make consecutive stops within the U.S. And since there are no US-registered cruise ships, no cruise ships can hop between US ports.

    “It’s a law that serves no purpose,” said Harry “Happy Hare” Martin, a San Diego radio personality who cruises twice a year and has been an outspoken opponent of the law. “Cities like San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco are losing tens of millions of dollars each year because of this law.”


    The PSA was enacted in 1886 at the request of ferryboat operators on the Great Lakes, who complained that Canadian boats were stealing their business.


    The law requires that ships carrying passengers between U.S. ports must have had their hulls built in the United States and be manned primarily by U.S. workers.


    However, no U.S. shipyards build cruise ships, and high labor costs in the United States create a competitive disadvantage for cruise lines.


    Several attempts to repeal the PSA have been unsuccessful. The most recent effort came in 1999, when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., spearheaded an effort but came up short.


    “What a beautiful coast we have (for) cruising,” said Reint Reinders, president of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau. “This would open up a whole new market for cruise ships with a lot of short trips up the West Coast. But that act has to be overturned first.”

Repeal of the Passenger Services Act of 1886 seems like a pretty easy no-brainer.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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