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The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the travel industry, and the cruise ship industry is no exception. As cruise lines gradually resume operations, passengers may face uncertainties regarding cancellations, refunds, onboard safety measures, and potential rights if they contract COVID-19 during their trip.

This blog post sheds light on passenger rights in the context of COVID-19, offering guidance and highlighting the importance of consulting an experienced attorney should complications arise.

Navigating a New Reality: The Evolving Landscape of Cruise Travel

Cruising has long been a popular vacation option, offering adventure, relaxation, and diverse experiences. However, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced unprecedented challenges to the industry, leading to widespread cancellations, modified itineraries, and the implementation of new health and safety protocols.

As cruise lines resume operations, passengers are encouraged to adopt a proactive approach to understand their rights and navigate the evolving landscape of cruise travel in the era of COVID-19.

Understanding Your Rights and Options When Faced with Cancellations and Refunds

The volatility surrounding travel during the pandemic has led to frequent cancellations and rescheduling of cruises. Understanding your rights in these situations is crucial:

Scrutinize Your Cruise Contract

Your cruise contract serves as a legally binding document outlining the terms and conditions of your voyage. Carefully review the cancellation policies, refund eligibility, and any potential rebooking options outlined in the contract. Familiarize yourself with these terms before booking your cruise to avoid unexpected surprises in case of cancellations.

Stay Updated on Cruise Line Policies

Cruise lines have implemented updated cancellation and refund policies due to COVID-19. These policies may offer more flexibility than the standard contract terms, such as credit vouchers for future cruises or full refunds under specific circumstances. Regularly check the website of your chosen cruise line for the latest updates regarding their COVID-19 policies.

Travel Insurance: A Safety Net

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially during these uncertain times. Travel insurance can offer additional financial protection in case of unforeseen circumstances, including trip cancellations, medical emergencies, or travel disruptions due to COVID-19. Carefully review the terms and exclusions of your travel insurance policy to ensure it offers coverage for potential situations you might encounter during your cruise.

Your Rights and Protections in Case of Onboard Illness

The prospect of contracting COVID-19 onboard a cruise ship raises concerns about passenger rights regarding medical care, quarantine protocols, and potential legal options:

Duty of Care

Cruise lines have a legal “duty of care” to their passengers. This translates to providing reasonably safe conditions onboard, implementing appropriate health and safety protocols to minimize the risk of illness, and offering necessary medical care in case of onboard emergencies.

Understanding Quarantine Protocols

Cruise lines have established quarantine protocols for passengers who test positive for COVID-19 or exhibit potential symptoms. These protocols might involve isolation onboard in designated cabins, disembarkation at the next port of call, or additional testing and monitoring measures. Familiarize yourself with the specific quarantine protocols of your chosen cruise line before embarking on your trip.

Seeking Compensation for Negligence

If you believe your illness resulted from the cruise line’s negligence, such as inadequate sanitation practices, failure to enforce mask mandates, or knowingly allowing ill passengers to board, you might have grounds for legal action to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages incurred due to your illness. However, maritime law governing cruise lines is complex, and establishing negligence can be challenging. This is where consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer becomes crucial.

Onboard Testing and Safety Measures:  Knowledge is Power

Understanding the safety measures and resources in place on a cruise ship during the pandemic can empower you to make informed decisions and navigate your onboard experience:

COVID-19 Testing Protocols

Most cruise lines require pre-embarkation testing for passengers, and some may implement regular onboard testing protocols. Inquire about the specific testing requirements and procedures of your chosen cruise line to ensure you are prepared.

Vaccination Requirements

Cruise lines have varying vaccination policies. Some require full vaccination for all passengers, while others allow unvaccinated individuals with additional requirements, such as pre-departure testing, onboard testing protocols, or restrictions on certain activities and facilities. Research the vaccination policy of your chosen cruise line and ensure you meet all necessary requirements before booking your trip.

Onboard Medical Resources

Familiarize yourself with the location and operating hours of the onboard medical facilities, the availability of healthcare professionals, and the process for accessing medical care in case of illness. This information can be crucial if you experience any health concerns during your voyage.

The Role of an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Protecting Your Rights

If you contract COVID-19 or experience other health-related issues during a cruise that you believe were caused by the cruise line’s negligence, Seeking legal representation from an experienced personal injury lawyer is highly advised. An attorney can provide valuable guidance on:

Establishing Negligence

Maritime law governing cruise lines is complex. An attorney can help you understand the legal standards for negligence and build a case to prove that the cruise line failed in its duty of care, leading to your illness.

Assessing Damages

If your COVID-19 infection results in significant medical expenses, lost income, or lasting physical or emotional harm, an attorney can help you quantify the total damages you suffered and seek rightful compensation.

COVID Cruise Ship Injury Lawyer

Legal Representation

Having a skilled personal injury lawyer represent you in negotiations with the cruise line or in court can significantly increase your chances of a successful outcome and maximum compensation.


Navigating the uncertain landscape of cruise travel in the era of COVID-19 requires careful consideration and awareness of your rights as a passenger. While cruise lines implement various safety measures and protocols, understanding your potential rights in cases of cancellations, refunds, onboard illness, and potential legal recourse provides an essential layer of security for your journey.

Remember, this blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. If you face disputes, cancellations, health concerns, or legal issues during a cruise, seeking timely consultation with a qualified personal injury lawyer can protect your interests and ensure you receive appropriate recourse.


About the Author:

Andrew Winston is the founding partner at the personal injury Law firm, The Winston Law Firm. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all personal injury cases, focusing on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in representing injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent, Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell for the highest level of professional ethics, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, and has been selected as a Florida Top 100 “Super Lawyer”  and Miami Top 100 “Super Lawyer” – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Personal Injury Attorneys in Fort Lauderdale and 20 Best Car Accident Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale.