Cruise industry vows to protect passengers in new bill of rights

The cruise industry has adopted a passenger bill of rights that promises, among other things, to provide a partial refund for voyages that are terminated early due to mechanical failures and allow cruisers to disembark a docked ship if essential provisions run out.

Drawn up in the aftermath of the Carnival Triumph disaster earlier this year in which passengers were stranded in the Gulf of Mexico following an onboard fire, the bill of rights has been signed by the CEOs of major cruise lines belonging to the Cruise Lines International Association.

Members include Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Holland America, Princess Cruises and Costa, which likewise drew worldwide attention to the cruising industry when its Costa Concordia ship ran aground and capsized off the coast of Italy last year, killing 32 people

In addition to disembarkation rights and the refund policies for interrupted and canceled trips, the bill of rights also promises to protect passengers by guaranteeing full-time professional, onboard medical attention, and the right to a ship crew that is properly trained in evacuation procedures.

As a result of the Carnival incident, cruise liners also promise passengers the right to “an emergency power source in the case of a main generator failure.”

The onboard blaze left 4,200 passengers without electricity, overflowing toilets and no water for five days as the ship drifted idly at sea.

The bill, which goes into effect immediately for US passengers who purchase their cruise in North America, also guarantees passengers the right to accommodations in an unscheduled port should the ship be forced to dock because of mechanical issues.

The CLIA is also submitting the document to the International Maritime Organization requesting formal global recognition.