Cruise West Ceases Operation, Says Federal Maritime Commission

Cruise West has notified the Federal Maritime Commission that Cruise West Travel, Inc., doing business as the cruise line Cruise West, is canceling all cruises that were scheduled to begin Saturday, September 18, and on all dates that follow, with the exception of the September 22 Danube Cruise.

It completed cruises of the Spirit of 98 and Spirit of Endeavour that ended in Portland and Seattle Saturday, September 18.

Cruise West advised the commission that, as of September 1, it had stopped accepting new bookings and payments. On September 8, it terminated its "Voyage of the Great Explorers" on the Spirit of Oceanus in Newfoundland, Canada.

Until today's announcement, Cruise West had previously intended to complete its 2010 sailing schedule. Cruise West may provide additional updated information on its website at www.cruisewest.com, the line said.

Under commission regulations, Cruise West maintains surety bonds to provide passengers with refunds for cancelled cruises that were scheduled to board passengers from U.S. ports. Prior experience, however, has shown that third-party insurers and credit card issuers may provide speedier reimbursement to passengers than the claims process established for bonds issued under commission regulations.

Passengers who paid for transportation by credit card should immediately contact their credit card issuer. The Federal Trade Commission issues information regarding consumer rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act. For that information, please see the Federal Trade Commission website at www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre16.shtm.

Those who purchased any third-party travel insurance should also immediately contact their insurer to claim reimbursement under their insurance policy if it covers such cancellations.

Cruise West's Commission-required surety bonds are underwritten by Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America, Westchester Fire Insurance Company, and Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland. These bonds will apply to all applicable passenger fares and deposits for Cruise West vessels that were scheduled to board passengers from U.S. ports.

These bonds do not, however, provide reimbursement for payments for air travel, shore-side hotel expenses or other expenses that do not constitute water transportation or its related services.

Agents may view the legal requirements for these surety bonds at 46 U.S.C. §§ 44101-44106 and 46 C.F.R. Part 540, which are available on the commission's website.

Travelers has retained Wells Fargo Insurance Services of West Virginia, Inc., doing business as Wells Fargo Disability Management, to process all claims within the terms of the surety bond.

Passengers who made payments for cancelled Cruise West cruises have the following options for making inquiries and requesting claim forms:

*    Send an e-mail to [email protected] The email should specify that the claim is for cruise fare reimbursement.
*    Mail your inquiry or request to Cruise Claims c/o Wells Fargo Disability Management, P.O. Box 1567, Abingdon, Virginia 24212.
*    Call a Wells Fargo Disability Management agent at 877-371-9700 extension 6059.
*    Fax your inquiry or request to Wells Fargo Disability Management at 276-676-0152.

Additional information will be posted on the Federal Maritime Commission's site at www.fmc.gov as it becomes available.

In addition, the commission's Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services is available to assist passengers and may be contacted by email at [email protected] or by telephone at 866-448-9586 or 202-523-5807.

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is the independent federal agency responsible for regulating the nation's international ocean transportation for the benefit of exporters, importers, and the American consumer.

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