The coronavirus pandemic has been notoriously hard on the cruise ship industry. To help moderate losses, many cruise lines are already pre-booking trips for the end of the summer — and even into next year. However, many potential passengers are rightfully cautious of making any plans.
While the pandemic hit cruise lines hard, it hit people with bookings even harder. Many people lost money on tickets without refunds or exchanges. This has many legal officials contemplating whether the entire cruise line industry should be reformed
If you’re considering booking a cruise any time soon, you should do so carefully. Consider contacting an experienced legal professional to help you navigate any contracts and other documents connected to the ticket. This is for your legal and financial protection. A good lawyer can help you understand the various problems that are currently endemic in the cruise industry.
The contracts and tickets used by the cruise industry are full of legal loopholes. Of course, these are designed to work in the cruise line’s favor. These loopholes are what left so many people without a refund or a replacement ticket when their cruises were canceled in March.
A qualified attorney can walk you through the loopholes in your ticket agreement. Different cruise lines offer different options. Even if you’re not worried about a cruise being canceled or having to miss your trip, it’s still a good choice to choose a ticket that gives you options. Supporting cruise lines that have fair contracts will help push the industry in a more just direction.
Even ignoring loopholes, many contracts are difficult to understand. That makes it harder to know what you’re agreeing to with your purchase. Many people would be less inclined to buy a cruise ticket if they knew that there was no way to get their money back. Consulting with a legal professional will help you find anything you might have overlooked because it’s buried in legalese.
Finally, but most importantly, you must understand how liability works onboard your cruise. Liability can cover everything from a slip and fall accident to catching a disease like COVID-19. Once you make it to your cruise, knowing whether you’re protected can be the difference between a relaxing vacation and a nerve-wracking experience.
Coronavirus has highlighted some particular problems with the cruise industry’s liability protections. Cruise companies are considered free from strict liability. This means that for cruise lines to be liable for injuries or illness, someone involved must have been negligent in their duties. A slip and fall accident has some clear guidelines for what constitutes negligence. Coronavirus, however, does not yet have those clear guidelines.
Furthermore, cruise ships are most frequently under the jurisdiction of maritime law. This is significantly different from standard laws. No one country can enforce its laws on most cruise lines. Unfortunately, this leaves many cruise lines free from clear standards on things like ship safety, security, or health regulations.
That makes for a messy situation if you have an accident and aren’t prepared. Maritime law is complicated, and many are calling for its reform. For the moment, though, it is what it is. Cruising can be as safe as any other vacation as long as you know what you’re getting into. Having a qualified legal professional walk you through your rights and responsibilities can help you stay safe, even on the high seas.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of 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 Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2020 – 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 Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.