Monday, December 9, 2013

here's what the cruise industry doesn't want publicized...


I've created this comforttravel@less blog to speak truth to fiction—it's not a pretty cruise picture that I present because I was just like everyone else falling for those puff PR travel section articles until I failed to carefully examine what is called by the Cruise industry "Passage Contract," which is lawyer speak for the rights of the cruise passenger as granted by the Cruise line when a ticket for passage is issued from the cruise line.

Now you will be aware that as a passenger your rights are limited in every way, in fact the Captain's staff can arbitrarily keep you in your cabin and not allow you out of it if they deem you are disruptive, and they don't have to define what they consider as disruptive, nor do you have any legal recourse to dispute with them, even when you disembark your legal right to sue or make claims is limited to what they offer in the "Contract of Carriage." 

The representatives of the Captain of your ship can stop you from leaving the ship, they are the "law" while you are on board

If your cruise is booked with a travel agent, some travel agencies can issue the ticket and then it is their duty to inform you about the cruise line's "Passage Contract."  When booking an airline ticket there is a Geneva Convention agreement between airlines as to the rules and regulation which includes compensation for a passenger booking in the US as to the right to sue for bodily harm, denied boarding compensation which used to be meals and hotel if necessary, and lost baggage, and one for all other passengers outside the US.   When taking a tour, everyone should know that a tour member is liable for violating the laws of the country where the tour takes place. 

Each cruise line has their own "Passage Contract."

If your cruise ship is owned by an umbrella cruise line like Carnival who has bought up several well-known cruise line, this means the umbrella cruise company has a "Passage Contract" for all their ships. 

Other cruise lines that are solely owned will have their "Passage Contract" which will be different since it was prepared by their lawyers.

Each cruise line company has it's individual ship's "country of registration," which may complicate the filing of a suit claiming compensation.  You have to find a lawyer in the country of registration to file a civil compensation suit, but in Carnival's case, though not all their ships are registered in the same country, you can sue the umbrella Cruise corporation where its main office is located. 

If you have been robbed while on board, it is your responsibility to make certain that you notify the Captain's representatives—when you were give permission to occupy your cabin to for the length of the cruise you accepted that the Captain is the law while you are on board, and you may need proof documentation that an investigation was conducted.  You are responsible for asking the Captain's representatives to proved you with it.

When I stepped on  board the Queen Mary 2 on September 22nd 2013, I was aware of any of the above, I had to give my E-ticket to the Cunard representatives—but a computer glitch didn't allow me to print the E-ticket, Cunard sent it to me emblazoned with the red Cunard logo, and with it a cruise brochure—without any knowledge that the "Passage Contract" was part of the download when printing an E-ticket, I skimmed through the first 2 pages and came upon the "Cunard Guest Protection" insurance program. 

Though I wasn't interested in protection for a medical disaster since I had my own insurance for that, and I wanted no part of the travel insurance they offered because the travel agency I booked the cruise with had offered a cruise price with travel insurance that provided me with a full refund if I had to cancel.  Insofar as baggage protection, I didn't bother to get it, I had one suitcase to wheel on board and my formal clothing was packed in that luggage with the hangers in a cloth hangup bag.  I intended at all times to port my luggage and keep it within view while on board the trains I intended to take after I disembarked 9 days later at the port of Hamburg.

Yet if I had been able to print my own E-ticket, I would have had to download that "Passage Contract" and I would have read it, and I was unable to do so, nor was I apprised by the CLIA approved travel agent that I had to read this, as it is a legal document. 

My travel agent is a member of CLIA, which is comparable to the Travel Industry Association, and I have the CTC designation because I took the courses that they offer to travel agencies which inform about travel agents about how to best serve their client—a good travel agent must point out any potential problems with the tours their client may want to book.  As well, CLIA offers their accredited cruise line travel agencies similar programs and certifications. 

I asked my booking agent if there was anything to inform me about prior to booking passage on the Queen Mary 2.  She told me that she had never been on board but assured me this a top of the line cruise and I would be pampered.

Now, too late, my lawyer and I have read this Cunard "Passage Contract," and he noted that the travel agent was responsible for telling me that my legal rights were limited by the terms of Cunard's legal document in their favor I told him that I had noticed the baggage tickets were at the front part of the brochure  and though didn't plan to let Cunard load my luggage on board or offload it, I decided for security screening purposes to affix one baggage ticket to my luggage and another to my backpack.  I informed my lawyer that I didn't bother to look at the final pages of the brochure, and I never noticed the 2 pieces of thin paper with no logo that lay there so innocuously in-between  the final page and the cover.

Though my lawyer found an anomaly that is to my favor and does not apply to the Cunard "Passage Contract" that was part of the E-ticket printing download, which was not pertinent since I had been unable to do so. 

When I paid Cunard to store my hangup bag with all my expensive clothing bought especially for the transatlantic cruises on the Queen Mary 2, I was issued a letter by the Captain's representative that noted my baggage was insured specifically by the Cunard's Southampton storage facility, which exempted me from the baggage compensation as noted in the Cunard "Passage Contract" that I had not been aware of—nevertheless, I was satisfied that my hangup baggage was issued a special Queen Mary 2 baggage tag, which to me meant that the insurance would be comparable to what a passenger on board the Cunard's top of the line Queen Mary 2 would have purchased.


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