MAY 22, 2013 — Back in March, when the problems of the Carnival Triumph were still receiving a lot of media attention, U.S.Senator Charles Schumer (D -NY) demanded a cruise passenger "bill of rights" to "ensure that passengers are not forced to live in Third World conditions or put their lives at risk when they go on vacation." (See earlier story)
Senator Schumer wanted a guarantee that passengers get real time updates when a problem occurs, that every ship would be equipped with a back-up generator and that full refunds would be issued should any technical emergencies occur.
Today, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) approved a bill of rights that looks to deliver all that Senator Schumer was asking.
The CLIA Board of Directors approved the adoption of a "Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rights" detailing CLIA members' commitment to the safety, comfort and care of guests in a number of important areas.
The CEOs of CLIA North American member cruise lines are each immediately verifying in writing that they have adopted the Passenger Bill of Rights, which is a condition of membership in the Association.
CLIA also will submit the Passenger Bill of Rights to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), requesting formal global recognition and applicability under the IMO's authority over the international maritime industry. The Passenger Bill of Rights will be effective immediately for U.S. cruise ship passengers who purchase their cruise in North America on CLIA's North American member cruise lines, regardless of itinerary.
CLIA and its member cruise lines are actively communicating the Passenger Bill of Rights to the public and cruise line guests. CLIA and its member lines will post the Passenger Bill of Rights on their respective websites, and CLIA has provided to its nearly 14,000 travel agent members materials to communicate the Passenger Bill of Rights to current and prospective customers looking to book a cruise.
"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. "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."
In addition to adopting the Passenger Bill of Rights, other recent and proactive initiatives by the cruise industry to focus on passenger safety, comfort and care include:
- Establishment of an industry-wide Operational Safety Review in 2012 resulting in the adoption of 10 safety-related policies that were submitted to the IMO;
- Launch of a Preparedness Risk Assessment in March 2013 to review and address redundancies related to power systems that provide essential services in the rare event of a loss of main power; and,
- Successful completion in early April of a multi-day emergency drill involving authorities from the U.S. and Bahamian governments, led by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Following is the full text of the Passenger Bill of Rights, as adopted by CLIA's members unanimously.
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:
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.