September 30, 2002
Eying a week's cruise in of Residensea's fancy studios? Better pick your itinerary carefully. The World of Residensea, cruising's only condo-at-sea, is making a well-publicized effort to market its rental studios (where you can "try it out" without having to lay down a lot of cash) to the type of traveler who might otherwise be tempted to sail Silversea or Seabourn. Executives there have also trumpeted its relatively unusual exemption from America's cabotage rules. You know, the Passenger Services Act, which, in a nutshell, requires cruise lines to include a foreign port in an itinerary, like Alaska and Hawaii, for instance, that otherwise would focus on an all-U.S. ports-of-call route. Condo owners on Residensea, in the exemption, are excused from the foreign-port requirement as long as they are on the ship for three consecutive days. This is the only cruise ship we know of to have this type of exemption. But here's the rub: the exemption from the law only applies to condo owners. It does not apply to those who book one of the ship's studio suites. Does this mean passengers (as opposed to owners) who, say, board next week for the ship's 15-day New York to Miami itinerary (by way of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Savannah and Palm Beach) are forced to stay onboard? We can only interpret from the silence from the folks at The World of Residensea -- numerous requests for clarity on this issue have been ignored -- that the answer is yes. Fortunately, the sales staff at company headquarters is a bit more forthcoming, reassuring us that suite bookings are closed off during itineraries where there's no foreign port so that unknowing suite-renters wouldn't inadvertently be trapped onboard. We'd like to say we'd confirmed that fact with the powers-that-be at The World of Residensea but, again, the company declined to respond to basic requests for information.