The Cruise Passenger protection Act of 2017 was introduced as a senate bill in June. it proposed a number of notices, oversight provisions and procedural changes to be implemented in the cruise line sector.
The bill was drawn up to give passengers traveling on cruise liners more information regarding their rights to claim should they be injured while aboard a commercial cruise liner, and give law enforcement agencies greater rights to get involved with incidents that take place on cruise ships.
The bill requires a number of things, including the personal injury statute of limitations against cruise vessel owners to be at least three years from the date of the incident. Right now, it is only one or two years depending on passenger tickets.
However, the bill does not do anything to come to a resolution on whether or not the liability provisions will apply to cruise ships when they are located in ports outside of the United States. This was one of the biggest uncertainties plaguing the industry, and regular cruise passengers will be dismayed to find it has not been covered by this particular bill.
They will be much more relieved, however, to find that the Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2017 is not trying to make many changes to the statutory legal rights that customers already have against cruise line operators, so they will not be losing out in any way if this bill does come to pass.
The main change that passengers would see, other than a longer period in which they can take liability action against cruise lines, is a change in ticket provisions,depending on ports and increased disclosures both in print and via electronic commercials. Although this would ensure that more information is available, it could make it difficult for passengers to understand what they are covered for and when.
It is felt that these changes are necessary because between 2002 and 2016, 356 people were killed on cruise ships and a further 21 were reported missing. The numbers of people injured on board a cruise ship was many times that number. It is, then, important that anyone affected by an onboard mishap, or whose family member has been affected, can take action.
The bill, in its current form, applies to any cruise vessel that is authorized to carry more than 250 passengers, but in this instance, passengers is used to refer to citizens of the United States only, which means that non U.S. citizens on the same cruise as U.S citizens could conceivably have fewer rights should they be injured in any way. This is not typical of most U.S.jurisdictional language which usually bases legislation on where passengers go,where tickets are sold. This means that non U.S.countries may need to put similar legislation in place if they want their citizens to have the same legalrights and protections as U.S.citizens who choose to embark on cruises.
It is also likely that the Athens Convention will come into play for U.S.citizens traveling to non U.S.ports, limiting the liability of cruise ships to between 25,000 and 400,000 Special drawing Rights, should this bill be passed.