Honestly, who takes the time to read the “fine print” of the majority of contracts we sign or otherwise agree to? Most of us just naturally assume that these clauses contain the same old information we’ve read and agreed to as every other contract we’ve ever acknowledged; blah, blah, blah…not responsible…blah, blah, blah. But just what are you accepting responsibility for when you sign off on a cruise ship contract? If you take the time to read one, you just might be surprised, and not pleasantly so, either. Here are the top 10 most shocking clauses in cruise ship contract “fine print” that come standard with the majority of tickets purchased.
1. No Signature Required
Did you know that you are bound to the terms and conditions of the cruise ship contract even if you don’t acknowledge that you’re read and understand these terms? Even without your signature? It’s true. By using your ticket, you are, perhaps inadvertently, consenting to all terms and conditions outlined therein and, consequently, assuming personal liability for just about anything that might happen on that cruise regardless of who is at fault.
2. Mandatory Arbitration
By consenting to the terms and conditions of the cruise ship’s contract, you are giving up your rights to sue the company for practically anything. By agreeing to settle disputes through arbitration, you waive your rights to a trial by jury.
3. Medical Malpractice Liability
Hopefully you won’t have a reason to visit the ship’s doctor while aboard your cruise vacation, but if you do, be aware that you can’t hold the cruise line responsible for any type of malpractice. You assumed responsibility for your own welfare, even in unforeseen medical circumstances, when you used your ticket to board the ship.
4. In-Port Excursions; You’re on Your Own!
It’s very typical for passengers to book various excursion and activities in-port through the cruise ship’s own agents. However, the cruise line – even though it most certainly makes a profit from these third-party bookings – accepts no liability what-so-ever for the services provided by these on-shore agencies. In other words, if you’re dissatisfied for any reason or any type of injury or accident should occur during said excursion, you have no course of action to follow for compensation.
5. Zero Liability for Injuries
If you should happen to become ill or injured either on-ship or off, even if said illness or injury is clearly the result of negligence on the part of the ship’s agents or third-party contractors, the liability is entirely your own. The cruise ship assumes zero liability for the conduct of its agents, contractors or employees.
6. Geographical Liability Restrictions
Even after all this legal mumbo-jumbo restricting the cruise ship’s liability, if you should still try to pursue legal action after an injury on a cruise ship, there’s even more fine print to read and understand (good luck with that!). This is especially true of geographical restrictions. For example, if you live in Minnesota and become injured aboard a cruise in Mexico, chances are you have to pursue litigation from the departure port i.e. Miami.
7. Cruise Ship’s Litigation Agreements Supersede Legal Statutes of Limitation
If you sustain an injury on a cruise for which you have somehow managed to navigate around all previously stated legalese and decide to sue, you must do so within the brief, specified time frame or you waive all rights to pursue compensation. Typically, the cruise ship company must be notified in writing within 6 months, with legal action in motion within one year. Even though local and federal statutes of limitation are much longer, the time frame stated in the cruise ship contract supersedes these laws.
8. Compensation Limitations for Non-U.S. Itineraries
If you become injured or even killed on a cruise ship that does not have at least one port-of-call on U.S. shores, your total compensation (or that sought by your loved ones) is limited to $70,000. Period. This is the result of a 1974 act known as the “Athens Convention.”
9. Immunity from Class Action Law Suits
Even when legally allowed and called-for by community circumstances among common passengers on a given cruise, all rights to class action law suits against the company are waived according to the cruise ship contract. All litigation must be filed on an individual basis.
10. Waiver of Your Right to Privacy
The cruise ship and all of its agents have the right to inspect your baggage, of course, but did you know that they also reserve the right to inspect your room – unannounced – at any time that pleases them? They have the right to change your accommodations at will or even to kick you off the ship, with or without just cause. They have the right to restrict your access, quarantine you to your room, or even to restrain you by whatever means they deem “necessary,” all this at the simple say-so of the ship’s captain.
These are just some of the more shocking points of the fine print typically found in a cruise ship contract, which you inadvertently agree to upon use of your ticket, even if you don’t choose to sign it. However, as an entity in control over passenger safety, the cruise ship may be liable for certain injuries regardless of what the fine print says. If you have been injured on a cruise ship, contact us for a free consultation and evaluation of your passenger rights.