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Senator Wants 'Cruise Ship Passenger Bill of Rights'

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By Andrew Lu on March 19, 2013 10:13 AM

After several cruise ship disasters and dangerous incidents, New York Sen. Charles Schumer is calling for a "Cruise Ship Passenger Bill of Rights." It would be modeled partially after the airline passenger bill of rights already passed into law.

Schumer's idea, however, would not involve federal legislation. Instead, he is calling on the international cruise line industry to voluntarily adopt his "bill of rights." His announcement cites recent cruise mishaps, including a fire that wiped out power and left the Carnival Triumph stranded in the Gulf of Mexico last month. Another Carnival ship, the Dream, also encountered problems at sea last week; its passengers were flown back to Florida, Reuters reports.

Schumer's cruise ship passenger bill of rights would provide for the following guarantees:

  1. The right to disembark a docked ship if there are not enough basic provisions provided onboard.

  2. The right to a full refund for a trip that is canceled due to a mechanical failure.

  3. The right to full-time professional medical attention onboard the ship to address health crises.

  4. The right to real-time updates about critical information such as adjustments to travel plans.

  5. The right to a properly trained ship crew to deal with emergency and evacuation procedures.

  6. The right to backup power in the case of an onboard power failure.

These six rights would just be the starting point to overhaul the safety of cruise ships, Schumer said.

In addition to his cruise ship passenger bill of rights, Schumer also called on groups like the International Maritime Organization and the Cruise Line International Association to investigate foreign-flagged ships that serve American passengers. Many cruiseliners are technically registered in other countries, and "existing international standards are clearly not working," Schumer's press release states.

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