Are Cruise Lines Living Up to Their Self-Adopted Passenger “Bill of Rights?

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) self-adopted a “Bill of Rights” in May of 2013 in order to allegedly fulfill the commitments of care and comfort to all their onboard passengers on luxury cruises throughout the world. Our team of experienced Miami maritime lawyers were hopeful, yet skeptical, of such a self-regulating scheme in the cruise industry. Named the International Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights, cruise ship passengers were provided with numerous “rights” including:

  • 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 onboard, subject only to the Master’s concern for passenger safety and security and customs and immigration requirements of the port.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The right to a ship crew that is properly trained in emergency and evacuation procedures.
  • The right to an emergency power source in the case of a main generator failure.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The right to have this Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights published on each line’s website.

This Bill of Rights was said to go into immediate effect for all U.S. passengers who booked a cruise on any of CLIA’s North American member cruise lines, regardless of its destination or itinerary. More than two years have passed since the industry self-adopted the supposed Bill of Rights. Has it made any difference in terms of improved safety for the passengers?

Here are some important statistics:

  • Last year over 1,700 passengers and crew members fell sick from gastrointestinal illnesses like norovirus.
  • Since 2012, at least seven children have drowned or nearly drowned in cruise ship pools that rarely have full-time lifeguards.
  • In 2015, a 21-year-old college student fell overboard and was never found — one of at least two dozen incidents in the last two years in which cruise passengers or crew have gone overboard, according to media reports.

Not only the Bill of Rights, but even the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) was brought forward in 2010 with a similar objective of passenger protection, applicable for all ships setting sail to and from the United States, carrying at least 250 passengers and having onboard overnight passenger/crew sleeping facilities. Despite these safety initiatives, cruise liner passengers are still at risk of suffering serious, debilitating injuries, or even losing their life on a cruise ship.

Contact an Experienced Miami Cruise Ship Injury Law Firm

Along with developing and implementing important safety protocols, a way to send a signal to the industry that certain unsafe practices are unacceptable is by protecting the rights of you and your loved ones when a preventable accident occurs. The cruise ship accident lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, PA are here to help. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys are licensed to practice law in all Florida state and federal courts. Our Florida law offices are located close to the port of Miami and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

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