Consumer Watch: Avoid sailing into trouble by knowing your rights

Consumer Watch: Avoid sailing into trouble by knowing your rights

June 29th, 2013 by Ellen Phillips in Business Diary

Ellen Phillips

I've always been outraged that the cruise ship industry seems unaccountable for issues that arise that should enable passengers to some decent sort of compensation.

Why do you think they're all owned by foreign countries? Of course it's because they don't have to listen to consumer rights agencies.

Now we can all shout, "Hooray!" because of the new Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights. Before you set sail, print out this list (some new, some old) or go online to www.cruising.org, among others as we now have the right to:

• 1. Disembark a docked ship if essential provisions can't be adequately provided for us on board.

• 2. Get a full refund for a trip canceled because of mechanical failures, or a partial refund for voyages terminated early because of these failures.

• 3. Lodging in an unscheduled port if disembarkation and an overnight stay is necessary when the cruise ends early because of the mechanical issues.

• 4. Timely information updates as to itinerary adjustments in the event of a mechanical failure and/or timely updates of efforts made to fix the problem(s).

• 5. Full-time, professional emergency personnel available on ships operating beyond rivers or coastal waters.

• 6. Transportation to the ship's scheduled port of disembarkation or the passenger's home port if a cruise ends early because of mechanical failures.

• 7. Properly-trained ship's crew in emergency and evacuation methods.

• 8. An emergency power generator if the main generator fails.

• 9. The publication of this Bill of Rights on the cruise line's website.

• 10. A toll-free number on the website whereby a passenger can get info concerning any aspect of shipboard operations.

(Personal P.S. Yea, Norwegian; Boo, Carnival!)

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears every Saturday. Email her at consumer watch@timesfree press.com.