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Sail On: Cruise Ships and the Rights of Passengers

“Sail On: Cruise Ships and the Rights of Passengers”

                                          By René Myatt, Esq.

 

    The very first time I went on a cruise I had no idea what to expect. The one thing I did recognize was that it was an expensive endeavor. But the price seemed to be so very worth it. You spend a lot of money for a week’s long trip. But what makes the cruise an attractive vacation jaunt is that everything is included. Once you pay your money your room, your food and your entertainment is included. Theme cruises can be especially exciting because the entire ship caters to your particular delight; whether it’s jazz, movies or Disney the entire ship is dedicated to that particular theme. Most, if not all, of the cruises allow you to pay the price over a period of time so the cost doesn’t hurt that much. And it is a good feeling to know that over the course of nine or so months at a cost of $200.00 to $300.00 a month, prior to the cruise, you have paid in full. Now, you just have to get to the boat, which could cost another $500.00 for a roundtrip airfare. You may be lucky enough to find an all inclusive trip that incorporates the plane fare, but check with L.S Crummell Associates Travel at (516) 623-3464 to see what deals she can get for you. Like any good travel agent, Lee has been on many of these cruises and she can tell you first hand about pricing, airfare, ship accommodations and the entertainment.

 

    As you’re planning your trip and making the purchase, you may want to invest in travel insurance. Folks plan all year for the cruise and they do everything in their power to make sure they are on that ship when it sails. Some people are so determined to make the trip that two to three weeks before the ship sails they are exercising extreme caution in their daily lives. They are being careful when they walk because they don’t want to fall and break something; they are more focused when they are driving because they don’t want to get into an accident; they are careful about what they eat and make sure they are taking all of their medications because they don’t want to get sick and not be on that ship. Life being what it is you want to guard against forfeiting your money should an emergency arise that prevents you from being on that ship. Travel insurance is worth every penny and every baby boomer amens this. With the various aches, pains, sudden illnesses and the onset of aging, you’d be wise to know how to protect your money and having travel insurance is a good way to protect it. If an emergency happens you’d rather be with it than without it. Although, you may not get 100% of your money refunded, a good portion is better than none and you will be the smartest person on the block if for some reason you couldn’t make the trip but you got some of your money back.    

 

You also want to be aware of what your rights are on these ships as you sail on to various parts of the world. Because it is a huge community contained on a ship accidents and incidents can and do happen. You want to know what is your responsibility and what is the ship’s responsibility. You are sailing on the high seas to different countries and different jurisdictions, in the event something unfortunate does happen, you want to call upon a good lawyer when that ship hits land. The reason you want to get to a lawyer right away is that there are an increasing number of litigation roadblocks being imposed by the courts which make it very difficult for injured cruise passengers to seek appropriate compensation in a convenient local court. President Barack Obama in July 2010 signed into law the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010. Section 2(13) provides in part: "To enhance the safety of cruise passengers, the owners of cruise vessels could upgrade, modernize and retrofit the safety and security infrastructure of such vessels in installing peep holes in passenger room doors, installing security video cameras in targeted areas, limiting access to passenger rooms to select staff during specific times and installing acoustic hailing and warning devices capable of communicating over distances."

 

For those of you who are wheel-chair bound, and there are many of you on these cruises, your rights are equally protected. Only a good lawyer can make sure that these vessels are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. All cruise ships touching U.S. ports are now subject to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. A good lawyer also knows that there are plenty of accidents on shore involving tour buses. A good lawyer will help you navigate through your claim as he or she determines whether the local travel service provider was insured and licensed, and were its employees properly trained. The lawyer will question whether the cruise line evaluated the reliability of the local provider which it recommended and from which it received a commission. The lawyer will also investigate whether the cruise line assumed responsibility for, and provided insurance for, any injuries suffered by its passengers or did it disclaim all liability for any injuries which passengers might sustain during a shore excursion.

 

Although, cruise travel may be the best bang for your buck, you are wise to be aware that accidents and incidents on cruise ships do happen and only a good lawyer knows that there are very limited time frames in which to file a complaint so you are racing against time when that ship docks and you want to pursue a claim. The good lawyer knows that when that ship hits port people scatter and any potential witnesses will be going their separate ways some never to be seen again. You have got to get the names of anyone who may have witnessed an accident and if you are a witness to an accident then by all means come forward and give your contact information.

 

Everyone wishes you a safe, enjoyable and memorable cruise. If something unfortunate happens then you want to get to a lawyer right away and if you’re lucky to be sailing with a lawyer on board make sure you get his or her card; you never know when you’ll need a good lawyer.

 

René Myatt is a practicing Attorney in New York.  Her website ismyattlegal.com; her email is legal@myattlegal.com.  This article is ©2011 René Myatt with the permission of the author.                                                                                     

 

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