Alaska Requires More Transparency During Cruise Port Shopping Lectures

February 13, 2013

(12:05 p.m.) -- Cruise ship port promotion companies – the folks who run the port shopping lectures onboard cruise ships – must alert passengers to the fact they are being paid to mention certain stores and may not discourage anyone from visiting nonparticipating stores, according to a legal settlement between the promotion companies and the Alaska Attorney General.

The settlement between port promotion companies including Onboard Media, Royal Media Partners and PPI Group and the Alaska Attorney General standardize what may and may not be included in port shopping presentations.

The settlement is meant to protect Alaskan retailers from presenters inaccurately representing stores as financially unsafe if they don't pay for inclusion in a presentation, Alaska Assistant Attorney General Cynthia Drinkwater told Cruise Critic.

Under the settlement, port presenters must make it clear stores mentioned in presentations have paid to be included and say whether the port presentation company is receiving commissions from those stores.

Such disclosures must take the form of the following statement: "My name is ____ and I am your port lecturer. The retailers you hear about in today's presentation have paid a fee to be included in the shopping program, and many of the retailers also pay commissions that are based on their sales to passengers."

During the presentations, lecturers also may not say the port presentation company or cruise line has selected, recommended or guaranteed participating merchants, or in any way suggest merchants have been vetted or approved, unless this can be proved with verifiable evidence.

Presenters can't disparage any business that doesn't participate in the program by stating outright, or insinuating that the quality of merchandise is not good or that guarantees are not offered.

Printed and broadcast materials must reflect the same standards.

To ensure port promotion companies are following these rules, video recordings must be made of all primary shopping shows, while every live presentation must be audio recorded throughout 2013. At the end of each cruise sailing, the promotion company must send all video and audio recordings to the attorney general. The companies also must provide two written reports (on July 15 and September 30) detailing their efforts to ensure compliance with the settlement.

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor