It’s no secret that the cruise industry has taken a hit this year. From fires to breakdowns and other accidents, enough has gone awry to set an undesirable tone for cruise lines. South Florida’s cruise industry is on a mission to turn around its image.
On September 12, Carnival Cruise Lines announced the start of its "Great Vacation Guarantee" promotion
. Apparently, the guarantee applies to all 3 to 8 day voyages to Alaska, the Bahamas, Canada, the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera, and New England; it will run through April 30, 2015. (Applicable to U.S. and Canadian residents ONLY, everyone else is out of luck).
According to Carnival, the procedure would be to “notify the ship’s guest services within the first 24 hours of the voyage to receive a full refund of [the] cruise fare plus an additional 10 percent.” The guarantee would also include:
• Complimentary return air transportation from the next port of call
• Complimentary ground transportation and hotel accommodations if necessary
• $100 shipboard credit for a future cruise
At first glance, this seems like a good deal for dissatisfied passengers… BUT BEWARE! Notice the 24 hour deadline to complain? What happens if you become dissatisfied with the trip at hour 25? Also, as with all cruise voyages, be sure to read the back of your ticket regarding some rights you are signing away by simply paying for a journey.
Most tickets contain clauses that require an injured passenger to bring a claim within 1 year (sometimes 6 months) from injury, as opposed to the maritime law limit of 3 years. Also, tickets often contain a choice of venue clause that requires all claims to be commenced in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami. There may also be other clauses included on the ticket limiting responsibility for personal property losses of passengers.
Cruise ship injuries and disputes are tricky and require an attorney with specific knowledge of admiralty/maritime law to handle them. Make sure to research potential attorneys before choosing one to handle your maritime case. The “law of the sea” is different to that on the land and having an attorney knowledgeable of those differences will get you the results you deserve.
Peter Hunt, J.D., has been working with LaBovick Law Group for more than a year in the maritime and personal injury division. His main practice area of focus is transactional maritime law.