Norwegian Cruise Line Passengers Claim Mistreatment and Violation of “Passenger Bill of Rights”

Norwegian Cruise Line  passengers claim the company has violated rules contained in its “passenger bill of rights.”

The incident in question involved the passengers being stranded while on the Norwegian Escape after the vessel ran aground while attempting to leave a port in the Dominican Republic. The ship sustained structural damage, causing the company to cancel the remainder of the trip.

When the collision occurred, Norwegian said they would be attempting to get all passengers home from the Dominican Republic to Orlando. However, passengers say they were stranded on the Norwegian Escape for multiple days before they were able to exit the Caribbean by plane. Norwegian offered passengers a refund and a credit for a future trip. Unfortunately, for many passengers, this offer did not alleviate their concerns, especially when it came to the treatment that they sustained during the days following the incident.

According to officials at the Cruise Lines International Association, the passenger bill of rights includes a set of policies that certain member cruise lines, including Norwegian Cruise Lines, have voluntarily agreed to adopt. If a cruise line wants to be a member of this association, they agree to abide by these policies. As a result, the bill of rights included by the Cruise Line International Association apply to all passengers who book a cruise on a member cruise line.

The purpose of this bill of rights is to provide transparency and consistency. Passenger safety, comfort and care are of paramount importance in these policies. This safety and comfort is detailed in the rare event a ship experiences a mechanical failure or a shipboard emergency occurs. According to the bill of rights, in the event there is a conflict between the guest’s ticket contract and the list of rights, the list of rights always wins.

What is included in the Cruise Line Passengers’ Bill of Rights?

  • The right of a passenger to exit a docket ship if essential provisions cannot be provided unless a captain’s concern for safety or customs and immigration requirements will not allow for an exit).
  • If a mechanical failure occurs, resulting in a sailing being called off or shortened, passengers have the right to either a full or partial refund, depending on circumstances.
  • If a voyage ends early due to a mechanical failure, passengers have the right to be transported to the port where it was scheduled to end or to their home city.
  • If passengers are forced to disembark due to mechanical failure and need to stay overnight in an unscheduled port, passengers have the right to lodging.
  • Passengers have the right to receive timely updates and information about any changes to their itinerary in the event of mechanical failure or other emergency.
  • Passengers have the right to a ship crew that is properly trained in both emergency and evacuation proceeds.
  • Passengers have the right to an emergency power source in the event the ship experiences a power outage in the vessel’s main. 
  • In the event passengers need it, they have the right to “professional emergency medical attention” while on the ship.

The passenger bill of rights came to be in 2013 after several incidents occurred where cruise passenger’s lives were put at risk. While the bill of rights clearly set policies cruise lines are meant to follow, enforcement is not always so easy. In this specific situation, while the passengers argue their rights were violated, they say the company’s Bill of Rights does not provide clarification on what they can do if a violation occurs.

Cruise line passengers can report their complaints by phone to the Federal Maritime Commission, who will then contact the cruise line on behalf of the passenger. At that point, the commission requires any cruise line that sails from U.S. ports to financially reimburse consumers if a cruise trip is canceled or if the passenger is injured or a death occurs. Ultimately, any resolution for the complaint is between the cruise line and the individual passenger. No formal mechanisms exist to enforce the rights included in the bill of rights, which Norwegian Escape passengers argue is unacceptable.

Aronfeld Trial Lawyers is a personal injury firm located in Miami, Florida since 1991.  We have fought hard to hold cruise lines accountable when they put their profits ahead of passenger safety.  We are available 24/7 and encourage you to contact us even if you are still on your cruise. The sooner we can begin our investigation and preservation of key evidence, such as the CCTV footage of your trip and fall, slip and fall, assault, or other type of injury the more likely we will be able to understand and prove how the incident occurred. Remember, the cruise lines have the most aggressive and well-funded defense lawyers in the world- protecting their profits.  You need an experienced legal advocate in your corner who will fight to obtain the compensation you deserve for lost wages, medical expenses, transportation reimbursement and pain and suffering.  Call us today and speak with a cruise ship claims lawyer about your potential claim- toll free 1-866-597-4529, 305-441-0440, or by email. We are ready to help.