Baltic cruises have so far not been considered package tours but instead route trips. However, in future the cruises are considered package tours. The change is based on a decision by the European Court of Justice and the Consumer Disputes Board’s recommendation, which have clarified the concept of package tour referred to in the Package Tour Directive and the Package Travel Act. In future, the following, for example, are considered package tours: Helsinki–Stockholm–Helsinki, Helsinki–St Petersburg–Helsinki, Helsinki–Tallinn–Helsinki and Turku–Stockholm–Turku. Short, daytime cruises lasting less than eight hours are not affected by this change.
Package travel companies must deposit a security specified by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) if they collect advance payments from their customers. In case of bankruptcy, the deposit can be used to compensate consumers’ receivables and to pay for their return trip. In future, passengers on the same vessel may be either on a route trip or a cruise, and a security must be deposited for the advance payments of the latter.
The FCCA has informed the industry organisations and companies in the register about this impending change since 2016. The industry has requested a sufficient transition period, which is why the FCCA has postponed the decision on new security decisions from the autumn of 2016 to the beginning of March 2017. Companies can appeal against their security decisions to the Administrative Court.
When cruises are considered package tours, the marketing and contractual provisions referred to in the Package Travel Act also apply to them – such as the right to cancellation and availability of help in problem situations. Consumers must also be told in advance that they are buying a package tour.
Further information: Petteri Lehtonen, Assistant Director, tel. +358 (0)29 505 3142