The Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) is complicating the cruise industry’s scramble to find alternative ports for dozens of ships scheduled to call in Mexico. The law prohibits foreign-flagged cruise ships from offering U.S.-only itineraries.

Ships departing California that have to reroute their ships from Pacific Mexican itineraries have no international ports to call on unless they sail to the most southern Canadian ports of Vancouver and Victoria.

Lines that don't call in Canada must make "service calls" in Mexico in order to comply with the PVSA.

Princess Cruises said that no passengers or crew members disembarked while the Sapphire Princess made a two-hour call in Ensenada. Princess had changed the Sapphire’s itinerary, substituting Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas with San Diego and Catalina Island, Calif.

Carnival Cruise Lines mostly kept its West Coast ships at sea, but the Splendor called at one port, San Francisco, on what was to be a three-port Mexico cruise, and made a service call in Cabo.

Royal Caribbean put the Mariner of the Seas on an itinerary visiting San Francisco, Seattle and Victoria instead of three ports in Mexico.

When asked if the industry had requested a PVSA exemption due to the swine flu outbreak, Carnival Corp. spokesman Tim Gallagher said that all cruise lines were in regular contact with the federal government.

"The government does not grant them exemptions but may mitigate fines or penalties related to [PVSA] requirements if ports are not available," Gallagher said.


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