What are your rights on private cruise ships?

Have you wondered?  Here is one take:

The unpleasant reality is that the cruise vessel's responsibilities and your rights as an injured passenger are governed not by modern, consumer oriented common and statutory law, but by 19th century legal principals, the purpose of which is to insulate the maritime industry from the legitimate claims of passengers. The policy enunciated by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals 35 years ago in Schwartz v. S.S. Nassau67, a case involving a passenger's physical injuries, applies equally today, " The purpose of [ 46 U.S.C. 183c ]…' was to encourage shipbuilding and ( its provisions )…should be liberally construed in the shipowner's favor `". Although recent years have seen the expansion of travel consumers' rights and remedies in actions against airlines68, domestic hotels69, international hotels70, tour operators71, travel agents72, informal travel promoters73 and depository banks74, there has been little, if any, change in the passengers' rights and remedies in actions against cruise lines."75 Cruise passengers are at a distinct disadvantage in prosecuting their claims.

Being a good Coasean, I do not object to these arrangements (though I prefer to avoid them), but they are worth keeping in mind as the debate over the TSA proceeds.  Note that private contracting, between passengers and the cruise ships, has not done so much to extend these rights.  Here are further readings.  Or try this book.


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