Cruise Traveler Rights Detailed In New Bill

Travelers’ rights are often difficult to define. We know about the so-called Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, designed to give air travelers some relief in a deregulated airline industry when things go wrong. When held on the tarmac for too long, passengers now have the right to get off the aircraft. Bumped against your will? You might be entitled to denied boarding compensation in the form of a check or cash. But what about cruise travelers? What rights do they have when things go wrong? The new Cruise Industry Passenger Bill Of Rights has answers.

Released this week by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the cruise industry organization that includes cruise lines, industry suppliers and travel agencies, the Cruise Industry Passenger Bill Of Rights details what should happen when things go wrong on a cruise ship. Unlike the airline version though, the cruise passenger bill of rights is more of an explanation of what cruise lines normally and customarily have been doing, as opposed to a set of laws for which fines can be levied against a cruise line that breaks them.

Still, there is value to cruise travelers in what the bill holds, if for no other reason than to educate buyers about what to expect. Experts agree.

“CLIA’s Passenger Bill of Rights is a very good policy for passengers and the cruise industry as it crystallizes rights and responsibilities in a consistent manner across all member cruise lines,” cruise expert Stewart Chiron, CEO of CruiseGuy told Gadling.
“The Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rights codifies many longstanding practices of CLIA members and goes beyond those to further inform cruise guests of the industry’s commitment to their comfort and care,” said Christine Duffy, president and CEO of CLIA in a press release this week.

Indeed, the full text of CLIA’s Bill addresses issues that may have kept first-time cruise travelers, concerned about recent headlines ranging from the grounding of Costa Concordia to the sensationalized Carnival Triumph “poop cruise” event, from booking their first cruise vacation. The bill covers 10 rights that passengers now have when sailing a CLIA-member cruise line, and it does a good job of easing the concerns of travelers new to the world of cruise vacations.

“By formally adopting industry practices into a ‘Passenger Bill of Rights,’ CLIA is further demonstrating consistent practices and transparency across CLIA member lines. The cruise industry is committed to continuing to deliver against the high standards we set for ourselves in all areas of shipboard operations,” said Duffy.

Passenger rights include the ability to disembark a ship if essential provisions can not be provided, sailing with a crew trained in emergency procedures and insuring that ships have an emergency power source in the case of a main generator failure.

Further validation of CLIA’s Passenger Bill of Rights may be gained by its possible adoption by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), United Nations specialized agency charged with improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships.

The Cruise Passenger Bill of Rights is the latest effort by CLIA to focus on passenger safety, comfort and care. Previous, recent efforts include an industry-wide Operational Safety Review in 2012 and a Preparedness Risk Assessment in 2013 along with a complex multi-agency cruise disaster drill, called Operation Black Swan, held last month.

“Despite the fact that most major cruise lines exceed these provisions, it lays the foundation for consistency, peace of mind and continued evolution of a maturing industry,” concludes Chiron.

Here is the text of the International Cruise Line 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 fulfill 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 onboard, 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 canceled 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.