‘Cruise Industry Passenger Bill Of Rights’ Addresses Inconveniences, But Does Nothing For Injustices

‘Cruise Industry Passenger Bill Of Rights’ Addresses Inconveniences, But Does Nothing For Injustices

After there were a number of highly publicized problems with cruise lines, US Senator Charles Schumer of New York called for the cruise ship industry to adopt a “bill of rights” that guarantees passengers certain protections. On May 22, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced that its board of directors approved adopting a “Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rights,” a 10-item list that addresses some of the issues that could arise if a ship suffers an emergency or mechanical failure. The New York Daily News reported that Schumer questioned in a statement “whether the announcement amounts to a token, toothless set of goals and sought stronger assurances.”

Schumer would be right to demand that any bill of rights include more meaningful protections, as some of the issues with the current proposal from CLIA include:

  • Guaranteed refunds may be less than what has recently been paid voluntarily — While the second item in the bill of rights guarantees a passenger’s “right to a full refund for a trip that is canceled due to mechanical failures,” it only offers “a partial refund for voyages that are terminated early due to those failures.” Keep in mind that when passengers were stranded aboard the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH for five days without working toilets, Time reported that the company offered those passengers “a full refund for the cruise and travel expenses, reimbursement for nearly everything they spent on board the ship, a credit good toward a future cruise, plus a check for $500.” Under the bill of rights, if passengers find themselves trapped on a similar “cruise from hell,” cruise lines would be able to argue that those people are legally entitled to only the partial refund.
  • Additional limitation of liability — The next item listed in the bill of rights guarantees passengers “professional emergency medical attention, as needed until shore side medical care becomes available.” However, this is a misleading claim as onboard medical staff are in fact considered independent contractors, and companies therefore avoid being held liable if a passenger later files a claim of negligence or medical malpractice against onboard doctors or physicians.
  • No protections mentioned for victims of serious crimes — The general sweeping issue with CLIA’s bill of rights is that it makes absolutely no mention of additional protections for passengers who are the victims of some of the most horrific crimes that occur on these vessels. Passengers who are victims of cruise ship assaults or rapes and families whose loved ones go overboard or are victims of wrongful death gain no new rights from this agreement.

Latti & Anderson LLP has obtained numerous verdicts and settlements for clients whose dream vacation on a cruise ship became a nightmare. If you or your loved one sustained cruise ship injuries, use the form on this page to have our Boston maritime attorneys review your case or contact our firm at (800) 392-6072 to take advantage of a free consultation in which we can advise you of your rights and all your legal options.

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