Senator Baldwin champions Great Lakes cruising provision

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) successfully championed report language in the Senate Fiscal Year 2018 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill which would direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to work with stakeholders and develop a mutually agreed upon and economically feasible cruise passenger clearance plan for the 2018 Great Lakes cruise season.

Last April, CBP threatened to shut down the 2017 cruise season. The agency backed down after Baldwin and other legislators objected. Since April, a broad coalition of stakeholders including ports, the U.S. Seaway, the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers and cruise ship operators have worked with CBP to establish adequate cruise ship clearance facilities for 2018. Although still under development, the plan could enable port-of-entry in four locations: Duluth, Sault Ste. Marie, Detroit and Cleveland.

Baldwin’s efforts are meant to ensure that CBP continues to work cooperatively with stakeholders—and utilize mobile jump kit technology to clear passengers until more robust facilities are in place.

The provision states the following:

“Great Lakes Cruise Vessels – The Committee is aware that CBP utilizes mobile jump kit technology to process cruise ship passengers at Great Lakes seaports. Such technology accommodates onboard passenger clearance at locations where permanent landside facilities are economically unjustified due to infrequent vessel calls. The Committee is concerned that CBP intends to reduce the use of this mobile technology in the near future. The Committee is aware CBP is working with Great Lakes seaports, cruise vessel operators and other Great Lakes Cruise Program stakeholders. The Committee directs CBP to develop a mutually agreed upon, economically feasible and sustainable cruise passenger clearance plan for 2018 and thereafter. Further, the Committee urges CBP to continue using mobile onboard passenger clearance technology until such time as that plan is in place. The Committee further directs CBP to provide the Committee with a report, not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this act, detailing its stakeholder engagement efforts and outlining its plan to resolve this issue.”

Maritime Editorial