Judge halts Miami cruise-to-nowhere

A federal judge late last week dismissed a gaming giant’s pleas to continue cruises-to-nowhere from Miami with crews that have D-1 non-immigrant visas.

The issue isn’t so much the foreign flag but rather the status of the crew, the judge pointed out in ruling in favor of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which halted the cruises late last year because of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Resorts World Bimini, part of Malaysia-based Genting Group, which operates casino and resorts worldwide and is developing a resort in the Bahamas, brought the suit.

The company argued that for several decades CBP has issued numerous rulings under the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) allowing non-coastwise vessels to run the cruises so long as they enter international waters. 

CBP said it has consistently ruled that such cruises must be operated by crewmembers entitled to work in the U.S. The crew on the Bimini SuperFast (a 32,000-GT ship built in Germany with speeds up to 30 knots that the company bills as the fastest cruise ship in America) was fine on cruises to and from the Bahamas, but not on separate cruises to nowhere.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, in Washington, D.C., said she found “nothing in the U.S. Customs rulings that can be read as exempting ‘cruises to nowhere’ from federal immigration laws.”

“We respectfully disagree with the ruling and are evaluating all options, including appeal,” the company said in a statement Monday. “This decision does not impact our ability to conduct day cruises, which will continue without interruption.”

Resorts World said in filings that its losses are “incalculable,” and it needs the cruises to meet its financial commitments which include a 10-year lease at PortMiami.
 

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