Customers invoke ‘passenger bill of rights’ after cruise ship runs aground in the Caribbean

Norwegian Escape during Sea Trials along the coast of Norway
Norwegian Cruise Line

Customers on a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ship that ran aground in the Dominican Republic are invoking their passenger ‘bill of rights.’

The passengers were stranded on the Norwegian Escape for days and then given an exit out of the Caribbean by plane.

NCL has offered the passengers a refund along with credit for a future trip.

However, the ordeal raised questions about the worth of the document that has nothing to enforce it.

“There were clear violations of the Passengers Bill of Rights, and this must be addressed,” passenger Jason VanDyke, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, said in a letter to Norwegian Cruise Line executives.

A fellow passenger, Joann Lynn of Oviedo, Florida, also cited the measure in her letter to the company.

In an email to The Washington Post, Lynn said she was aware that the bill of rights existed, however, she was unsure how that can help her now.

“I do believe our rights were violated however the bill of rights does not include detail of ramifications or steps that passengers are to take when a violation occurs,” Lynn said.

“I do not have any idea how to proceed with a violation of those rights nor do I feel that I am empowered by knowing they even exist since it does not appear that we have any recourse when those rights are violated.”

So what is the cruise industry’s passenger bill of rights?

According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), “the purpose of the passenger bill of rights is to provide transparency, consistency and accountability for cruise passengers detailing CLIA members’ commitment to the safety, comfort and care of guests in the rare event of a mechanical failure or shipboard emergency.”

The bill of rights is quite a long list so we won’t bore you with every detail but the cruise association said that guests are entitled to full or partial refunds for cancelled or shortened cruises due to mechanical problems.

Hence passengers on the Norwegian Escape complained that NCL did not communicate its plans, left passengers in the port for hours as the cruise ship sailed away, and mishandled flight arrangements out of the Dominican Republic.

Passengers then had to purchase their own accommodation after the cruise company sent them back to Florida earlier than expected.

VanDyke and Lynn both said in their letters that they wanted accountability and acknowledgment from the company, as well as changes to keep a similar mess from unfolding in the future.

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