The Ruby Princess (Image: Wikimedia)

The cruise industry's penchant for registering businesses and ships in off-shore tax havens may be coming back to bite it.

The practice has so far seen several major cruise companies left out of the US' recent bailout package, being denied access to any funds such as the US$58 billion that will be made available to American airlines of all sizes.

Big lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian have based themselves in the US, while actually registering their ships in well-known shipping havens like Panama.