Cruise lines have had a tough few years as news headlines focus on virus outbreaks, breakdowns and disasters, rather than the joys of taking a long relaxing cruise. As some cruise lines renovate their aging fleets and others introduce ships that have grown to the size of floating cities, the chance of unexpected incidents during your cruise vacation is on the rise.
Last week in response to the recent downturn in cruise bookings following the stranding of passengers on board Carnival’s Triumph, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) and their 26 member cruise lines, have adopted a new Passenger Bill of Rights. These passenger rights establish a code of conduct and safety requirements for all member cruise lines who sell cruise vacations in North America. Cruise passengers can now expect the following rights on their next cruise vacation:
- 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 canceled 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.
Carnival Cruise Lines recently announced a $300 million fleetwide upgrade of their emergency power capabilities and power redundancies, so hopefully the days of loss of power, overflowing toilets and spoiling food are over. But if unforeseen delays and inconveniences befall your next cruise, there are now industry standards for reimbursing passengers for their interrupted cruise vacation.