The Cruise Passenger’s Rights and Remedies 2014: The Costa Concordia Disaster: One Year Later, Many More Incidents Both On Board Megaships and During Risky Shore Excursions

Justice Thomas A. Dickerson | Recent Development

While a cruise vacation may very well be the best travel value available, consumers should be aware that a cruise line’s duties and liabilities are governed not by modern, consumer-oriented common and statutory law, but by nineteenth-century legal principles, the purpose being to insulate these companies from legitimate passenger claims. … For example, if CLIA really wants to help cruise passengers, then cruise lines should stop inserting Miami, Florida, forum selection clauses into ticket contracts and allow injured passengers to sue in a forum convenient to them. … The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 In response to the growing number of reported rapes, assaults, and robberies aboard cruise ships touching U.S. ports (for example, a passenger was punched and stomped several times in the face, another passenger was sexually assaulted, and another passenger was sexually assaulted and subjected to sexual battery and verbal abuse by the head waiter), President Obama in July 2010 signed into law the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 (Safety Act). … Liability-limiting clauses applying to medical malpractice and accidents occurring during shore excursions, application of the Athens Convention, and limitations on the application of long-arm jurisdiction to cruise lines and purveyors of travel services may similarly obstruct cruise passengers’ rights. … In the subsequent lawsuit, Starkey alleged that Gap was negligent in hiring and training the tour leader and was “liable under the tort laws of both the United States and Canada” and “requested one million dollars in compensatory damages plus attorneys’ fees.” … In 1996, the cruise industry was able to convince the United States Congress to enact statutory permission for cruise lines to include “provisions in a contract or in ticket conditions of carriage with a passenger that relieves an … operator of a vessel from liability for infliction of emotional distress, mental suffering, or psychological injury.” … The cruise line may or may not be aware that the 2002 Protocol amount should apply in an English court prior to December 31, 2012 , where passengers were English and bought their tickets there.