Fire-proof Bill of Rights for Cruise Passengers

June 4, 2013

On May 22, 2013, the Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) adopted a formal Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights designed to protect the rights of cruise line passengers in the event of mechanical failures and other emergencies. Less than a week later, on the morning of May 28, the Bill of Rights was put to the test when a large fire broke out on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas. The ship was headed south after departing Baltimore when it became engulfed in flames. According to a detailed account of the incident written by a passenger and published in the Baltimore Sun, the ship's crew acted quickly to put out the fire and insure that all passengers were safe.

The new Bill of Rights was adopted at the CLIA Convention to alleviate passengers' concerns about cruise ship safety in the face of a number of accidents and mechanical failures that have occurred in the last year and to counter the negative publicity generated by them. Among the most notable incidents were the sinking of the Costa Concordia, which resulted in the deaths of a number of passengers, and the engine failure which left passengers onboard the Carnival Triumph stranded without power for several days. (For more information on recent cruise accidents, see the blog post below from March 18, 2013).

While the Bill of Rights has been called a step in the right direction by maritime lawyers representing both passengers and the industry, it also has been criticized for not going far enough in addressing a number of recurring problems. And while the Bill of Rights does lay out specific rights passengers traveling onboard member cruise lines have in the event of emergencies , and what kind of service they can expect while cruising, it does not provide for the adoption of any new regulations. A memo released by the CLIA to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) does make clear, however, that the Bill of Rights will apply to all United States passengers who purchase their tickets in North America, regardless of their itinerary.

Over the past few years, accidents on cruise ships around the world have created some disturbances for the industry. The CLIA and its members have made several efforts to help repair their damaged image by creating an industry Operational Safety Review, examining cruise ships through a Preparedness Risk Assessment, as well as completing a multi-day emergency drill led by the U.S. Coast Guard to make sure that all ships are ready in case of an emergency. The Bill of Rights appears to be another measure to ease the minds of potential passengers who have concerns about cruise ship safety.
We encourage you to review the Bill of Rights, which we have reproduced below along with a link to the CLIA memo, and take a copy with you if you are planning on cruising in the near future. If you feel that any of your rights has been violated, or if you suffer any harm during your cruise, The Law Office of David H. Pollack is available to assist you. Contact us at 305-372-5900 for a free consultation or visit our website at www.davidpollacklaw.com.

Cruise Passenger Bill of Rights

The Members of the Cruise Lines International Association are dedicated to the comfort and care of all passengers on oceangoing cruises throughout the world. To fulfil this commitment, our Members have agreed to adopt the following set of passenger rights:
1. The right to disembark a docked ship if essential provisions such as food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical care cannot adequately be provided on-board, subject only to the Master=s concern for passenger safety and security and customs and immigration requirements of the port.
2. The right to a full refund for a trip that is cancelled due to mechanical failures, or a partial refund for voyages that are terminated early due to those failures.
3. The right to have available on board ships operating beyond rivers or coastal waters full-time, professional emergency medical attention, as needed until shore side medical care becomes available.
4. The right to timely information updates as to any adjustments in the itinerary of the ship in the event of a mechanical failure or emergency, as well as timely updates of the status of efforts to address mechanical failures.
5. The right to a ship crew that is properly trained in emergency and evacuation procedures.
6. The right to an emergency power source in the case of a main generator failure.
7. The right to transportation to the ship=s scheduled port of disembarkation or the passenger=s home city in the event a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.
8. The right to lodging if disembarkation and an overnight stay in an unscheduled port are required when a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.
9. The right to have included on each cruise line=s website a toll-free phone line that can be used for questions or information concerning any aspect of shipboard operations.
10. The right to have this Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights published on each line=s website.

Baltimore Sun Article: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2013-06-03/news/bs-ed-cruise-20130603_1_first-cruise-muster-stations-crew-member

CLIA Memo: http://www.cruising.org/regulatory/news/press_releases/2013/05/cruise-industry-adopts-passenger-bill-rights