Cruise Passenger Protection Act Creates More Legal Issues
Will the Cruise Passenger Protection Act Create More Legal Issues?
After major instances of cruise passengers being subjected to poor treatment and conditions aboard ships, The Cruise Passenger Act of 2017 has been introduced as an attempt to make passengers’ rights uniform and clearly stated.
Primary Features and Changes to Current Law
While the Bill details a variety of safety measures to be taken and procedures for dealing with claims against cruise lines, the two most substantial legal changes will be:
- A mandatory minimum of three years for passengers to file a claim against owners of a vessel. This is a significant upgrade over the one and two years that are commonly allowed for by most cruise lines.
- There will also attempt to create a new, standardized disclosure of legal rights included with ticket contracts. Information will include informing passengers on how they can go about seeking legal help should something go wrong.
- Other Stipulations and Provisions in the Bill Include: A dedicated agency will be established to handle complaints and claims against cruise lines along with several safety factors, including peepholes in cabin doors, video surveillance and increased medical training for staff.
What the Bill Fails to Do
The bill is far from perfect and fails to acknowledge several existing problems and may even create a new one because of wording which specifies that a passenger must be a U.S. citizen. With this, the bill creates potential issues with regard to defining citizenship and legal enforcement.
Additionally, the bill doesn’t address how previous liability and insurance regimens presented in the Athens Convention will work for cruises traveling between foreign ports but with tickets purchased in the U.S. In the Athens Convention, a ship owner can limit their own responsibility to 250,000 or 400,000 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs – units of value based on multiple, major currencies around the world) when their ship does not call U.S. ports.
The bill also doesn’t come to a conclusion on the best way to inform passengers about this liability cap because there is too much technical language regarding the purpose of the Athens Convention itself and what the value of an SDR is.
To make it possible to ensure all passengers are given the same right and are adequately informed, a uniform, easily-understood disclosure must be formulated to put on all cruise ticket contracts. Unfortunately, the Passenger Protection Act does not manage to do this.