Cruise Bill of Rights for Passengers?

This week, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) proposed a Cruise Ship Passenger Bill of Rights, in part as a response to problems passengers have experienced, most notably on Carnival ships.

Let us say up front that we think a bill of rights is a good idea for cruise passengers.

But…well, before we get to the "buts" take a look at  the criteria for the proposed bill:

1. The right to disembark a docked ship if basic provisions cannot adequately be provided onboard
2. The right to a full refund for a trip that is abruptly canceled due to mechanical failures
3. The right to full-time, on-board professional medical attention in the event of a major health crisis
4. The right to real-time information updates as to any adjustments in the travel plan of the ship in the event of a mechanical failure or emergency
5. The right to a ship crew that is properly trained in emergency and evacuation procedures
6. The right to back-up power in the case of a generator failure

All of these sound, well, sound. But how practical are they?

Sen. Schumer's proposal includes "ships registered in a foreign country." In other words, virtually all cruise ships but Norwegian's Pride of America. Take any one of them, put it in violation of any of the criteria, and assume that being in violation means being fined.


Who's going to collect from an MSC ship if it doesn't provide real-time updates if there's a mechanical failure (MSC is singled out only because it is not only registered in a foreign country but is foreign-owned, with ships that visit the U.S.)?


Who's going to inspect the hundreds of ships in U.S. ports every day?


If a ship is found to be in violation, will it be held in port until the problem is fixed or the fine is paid, and who is going to explain that to the passengers waiting to get on board?


If the bill is modeled on the (passed-into-law) Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, why does there appear to be no reference (we could find) in the bill about "airlines registered in a foreign country?"


If this is a reaction to the Carnival Dream, which did have back-up power that malfunctioned, will ships require back-up to the back-up?

Making it tougher for cruise lines to avoid being what Sen. Schumer calls "the wild west of the travel industry" is a good idea, but only if it's practical.

Maybe this is just what it is…a starting point.

Holland America Noordam
15 nights
April 21, 2013
Rome, Florence, Ajaccio, Naples, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Split, Venice, Argostoli, Katakolon, Santorini, Athens
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $66

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