The Cruise Lines International Association has announced the adoption by the industry of a passenger bill of rights that guarantees the “safety, comfort and care” of guests.
The bill of rights promises, among other things, full refunds for trips that are cancelled due to mechanical failure, and a backup power source on every ship to keep emergency systems running in the event of a main generator failure but at this stage applies only for North American (US and Canada) passengers.
The CLIA, which represents 25 major companies including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Holland America and Cunard, has said it has submitted the bill of rights to the International Maritime Organization, “requesting formal global recognition and applicability.”
In reality, the so-called bill of rights adds no significant benefits to cruise ship passengers over and above what is currently provided as standard industry practice and is criticised by many as being merely a public relations exercise to neutralise the furore over earlier incidents including the Carnival Triumph fire that left passengers stranded aboard a drifting cruise vessel in the Gulf of Mexico for 5 days in February and the Grandeur of the Seas fire in May.
Also in May, Paul Rossington and Kristen Schroder from New South Wales were reported missing as their ship the Carnival Spirit docked in Sydney at the end of a 10 day Pacific cruise. Surveillance footage captured them as they went over a balcony railing outside their cabin on the night of May 8 when the ship was about 65 nautical miles east of Forster, on the mid-north NSW coast.
Far more important for passengers is that their ticket imports the terms of the Athens Convention of 2002 or if it doesn’t, the country of the port of departure or return has confirmed its ratification of that convention.
The Australian government should also take the opportunity to ratify the convention at its The Australian government should also ratify the 2002 Athens Convention at the earliest opportunity.