Cruise passengers get bill of rights

MGN Online
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 12:50pm

(CNN) -- Attention cruise passengers: You now have more protection when things go awry. On Wednesday, Cruise Lines International Association announced the adoption of a new passenger bill of rights.

"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 statement.

The new policy comes on the heels of a series of high-profile setbacks for the industry. From mechanical failures to a deadly accident off the coast of Italy, incidents in the past year-and-a-half have battered the industry's reputation for safety.

Among passengers' rights are an emergency power source in case of a main generator failure and a ship crew "properly trained" in emergency procedures.

Generator failure played a key role in the days-long stranding of the Carnival Triumph in February after an engine fire knocked out power. In the case of the January 2012 Costa Concordia disaster off the coast of Italy, which killed 32, many passengers recounted a chaotic evacuation of the sinking ship.

Another provision of the cruise industry rule mirrors the Department of Transportation's tarmac delay rule for airline passengers in giving cruise passengers the right to disembark a docked ship if adequate food, water and restroom facilities are not available onboard.

The organization's new policy also provides the right to emergency medical attention, timely information related to itinerary changes and mechanical problems and full or partial refunds for voyages that are canceled or ended early due to mechanical failures. The bill also assumes responsibility for passenger transportation and lodging in cases when mechanical issues cut voyages short.

The full bill of rights will be published on each cruise line's website, in addition to a toll-free number for passengers to call with questions about shipboard operations.

The bill of rights is effective immediately for U.S. passengers who purchase cruises on CLIA's North American member cruise lines. The industry organization is also planning to request global recognition of the new policy from the International Maritime Organization. 

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