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Cruise Ship Law Blog: Will The New Passenger Bill of Rights Really Help?

On May 27, passengers aboard the Royal Caribbean International cruise ship heading for the Bahamas discovered that they were the newest victims of yet another cruise fiasco. A fire had erupted on the ship’s third deck and quickly spread up to the fourth deck. Although it took nearly two hours to put out the blaze, no one was seriously injured. However, nerves were frayed and many passengers must have wondered why so many vacations keep being ruined by the cruise industry.

While this latest travel disruption wasn’t anywhere near as burdensome as the one that happened earlier this year in February – when the Carnival Triumph lost engine power while in the Gulf of Mexico, or the even more drastic accident involving the Costa Concordia it was still another sign that passenger comfort and safety are often at risk on a cruise ship.                                                Although some authorities are rightfully questioning the timing and motives, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) has now adopted a passenger bill of rights to convince all travelers that they still can expect pleasant adventures on all of the CLIA members’ ships. Our cruise ship law blog series addresses what this means for passengers past, present, and future.

What the Passenger Bill of Rights Covers – and Why It May Have Just Been Passed                          As some industry observers have pointed out, the new bill of rights may just be a friendlier rewording of the many conditions describing cruise ship liability that are printed in the fine print of your cruise ticket.

Nevertheless, the adopted bill of rights notes a variety of CLIA responsibilities.

  • Passengers have a right to leave a docked ship to obtain essential goods when they cannot obtain them onboard due to a power outage, fire or other cruise disaster;
  • Travelers are entitled to full refunds when the majority of their cruise has been disrupted by negative events outside their control;
  • Every cruise ship must be staffed by employees fully trained in emergency response and evacuation methods;
  • Each cruise ship must have at least one extra emergency power source onboard for rapid deployment once the regular power source has been compromised.

Effective Date of Bill of Rights — and the Cruise Lines That Have Adopted It

The new Bill of Rights is to take immediate effect for U.S. passengers who buy cruises in North America on the [CLIA’s] North American member cruise lines, regardless of itinerary. These cruise lines include Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Lines.  CLIA members “outside of North America” are expected to adopt the same bill of rights before 2013 draws to a close.

Although no one knows for sure, some parties familiar with the industry wonder if this new bill of rights isn’t just an attempt to curtail the efforts of lawmakers like U. S. Senator Charles Schumer from introducing far more demanding cruise industry regulations. Time will surely tell if such comprehensive industry regulations are needed.

If you’ve suffered any serious injuries or accidents on a cruise ship or simply been injured on a cruise ship in any way, contact the Law Offices of South Florida personal injury attorney Joseph M. Maus. We’ll be happy to schedule your free initial consultation so you can obtain the legal information and representation you need. Call today:  (855) 999-LAWS Toll Free or locally (954) 784-6310


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