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The new cruise contract - a legal question.


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4 hours ago, nelblu said:

Just a silly question--how many actually read the contract.

In over 30 yrs of cruising I have never read the contract. With that said I have never come to cruise critic to complain about the cruise line enforcing something that was in the cruise contract like skipping ports or canceling the cruise to accommodate a charter.

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On 2/16/2021 at 9:27 AM, MaritimeR&R said:

RCG has now published a new cruise contract. I am aware that under the old contract the Line has the right to change an itinerary, etc., but I don't believe it entitled them to forgo any and all financial responsibility for Covid related illness/deaths,  or entitles them to require that passengers adhere to new protocols that were not in place at the time of the initial booking, etc.  

Are people who previously booked NRD cruises entitled by law to request their full deposit back (and not have to wait for RCG to cancel) as RCG has changed the terms of their contract to include exclusions that were not in place at the time of the "good faith" booking? 

 


The cruise lines can change the contract and make whatever requirements they want. 

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8 hours ago, Iamcruzin said:

 I have never come to cruise critic to complain about the cruise line enforcing something that was in the cruise contract like skipping ports or canceling the cruise to accommodate a charter.

Neither have I.  I understand those rights of the cruise line. I just wondered if ADDING requirements AFTER a person had put a deposit down negated the original purchase.

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13 hours ago, nelblu said:

Just a silly question--how many actually read the contract.

I read it before my first cruise. My reaction was why the heck would anyone ever agree to this? Then I promptly check the box because I wanted to try a cruise.

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8 hours ago, CruisingHogFan said:


The cruise lines can change the contract and make whatever requirements they want. 

They don't really need to change it. The contract has always said that the customer has no rights,  and if customers think that they have any rights then they obviously have not read the contract.

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I just want to clarify the rationale for my original post:

I had read that among the conditions the CDC placed on the cruise lines to resume sailing was the requirement that  all the costs of sequestering, transporting, etc. of passengers in the event of an outbreak fell to the cruise lines.

That cost would be monumental and is probably one of the major reason cruise lines haven't wanted to test the waters. Now, RC is stating in their contract to their consumers that they will not be responsible, but rather EACH customer is responsible for their own costs. They have essentially passed the buck, which I guess is to be expected.

My question was more of a musing that I wondered had a specific answer: since when we put down our deposits the possibility of having to incur significant extra charges was only related to each of us should we need medical or transportation such as having a heart attack and needing to be evacuated/ breaking the rules and being thrown off the ship /missing the ship, etc and NOT  if someone else on the ship infects passengers and causes the ship to institute the CDC procedures for containing and/or transporting all passengers to their homes, which is what appears to be the case in the new contract. 

I know just as there are doctors, teachers, dentists, etc there are also lawyers who actually went to school on this site. I was just asking for one of them to weigh in.  Thanks.

 

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Iplayslots said:

Why would you ask legal advice on a cruise message board.  Its like asking for financial advice on a bankruptcy website.

There are attorneys who are members of Cruise Critic and who will be signing the same contract should they choose to cruise. 

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On 2/18/2021 at 8:15 PM, Jingerwoppy said:

If I correctly recall what I learned in my business laws classes (got A's), negligence is never waivable. Last hotel I stayed in was the Sleep Inn and Suites in Galveston, not quite a Holiday Inn but not bad. 

 

Depends on state law. I just turned down a cabinet maker whose contract here in SC excludes liability for all negligence, among other things, or for any damages from risks known or unknown. Did a lot of research to find out how enforceable it was. In SC, so long as the waiver is extraordinarily specific, warns the signer what rights are being waived, and itemizes the injuries and damages that cannot be claimed, it can still be good, even for wrongful death.

 

They cannot waive liability for gross negligence, certain causes of action specifically protected by law, or for criminal activity.

 

I didn't want a cabinet installer to accidentally drive into our house, or burn it down, and be able to recover only the cost of the cabinets! 

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On 2/19/2021 at 9:54 AM, MaritimeR&R said:

There are attorneys who are members of Cruise Critic and who will be signing the same contract should they choose to cruise. 

 

I am no longer practicing law, so I always tell people who ask a legal question that the info I am giving them is my impression, not a legal opinion, and is worth what they are paying for it! But on a board like this, there are often general principles that lawyers can apply to an issue, and usually those provide some guidance to discussions about an esoteric legal issue.

 

I ALWAYS read contracts (see prior post). Discovered once in the 90's that 7-11 wanted to have blanket permission to literally break into my house or car to recover overdue DVDs...I got a membership at Blockbuster.

 

On your first question, I think @chengkp75has quite cogently pointed out that a cruiseline has to have flexibility to change requirements for safety, health, weather, port conditions, etc. There always have been provisions allowing them to cancel or change ports, meals, entertainment and other services, and even cabins if necessary.

 

The total waiver of costs associated with a disease seems of a different order entirely because the burden could be so extraordinary. If they themselves do not offer travel insurance to cover those things, AND if they made the contract change knowing private insurance was unavailable to anyone who had already booked,  I suspect they would be required to allow refunds. BUT, if they were to actually notify existing pax of the new clause (not merely posting it), along with a requirement that to cancel you had to do so within, say, 14 days after receipt, they might get away with not giving refunds.

 

The logistics and documentation, and the PR fallout, likely would be a nightmare--they should just give a refund.

Edited by mayleeman
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On 2/18/2021 at 8:15 PM, Jingerwoppy said:

If I correctly recall what I learned in my business laws classes (got A's), negligence is never waivable. Last hotel I stayed in was the Sleep Inn and Suites in Galveston, not quite a Holiday Inn but not bad. 

While negligence is never waivable the I believe that duty of care is certainly something that can be established/defined by contract, particularly for high risk activities (and yes, cruising would fall into that category). A lawyer friend of mine has gone up against ski resorts here for accidents happening on the slopes and in order to prevail the plaintiff needs to prove that the ski resort or someone working for them acted with gross negligence in order to prevail. Since Royal is in court right now fighting off a wrongful death suit I would attribute this contract change more to that than to COVID. (Disclaimer- not a lawyer but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express one time years ago.)

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Thanks to mayleeman for a truly legal opinion.  Again, while not a lawyer, I have had quite a bit of exposure to maritime law, and injury suits at sea.  It is correct that negligence is not waiverable, but it is proving negligence on the part of the carrier that is difficult.  First, maritime law allows for "comparable" liability, meaning that if the plaintiff is responsible for the injury to a degree, then that percentage of damages will not be awarded from the defendant.  That liability is based on "reasonable person" standards (what would a "reasonable person" have done in this case?).  Under maritime law, the carrier is liable for injury damages only if it can be shown that they "knew or should have known" about an unsafe condition, and did nothing about it.  Since Royal is stating Covid as an unsafe condition, and stating the requirements (as set by governments) to mitigate the unsafe condition, they are fully within their rights to waive all liability.  Since the company is not incorporated in the US, maritime law is the jurisdiction, not US law.

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My fundamental principal is their lawyers are bigger than mine and they won't let me modify the contract for a single passenger so as always buyer beware of the risks and either self insure or have some form of insurance (cc, specific policy etc)

 

A-

 

 

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7 hours ago, sparks1093 said:

While negligence is never waivable 

 

Regular negligence may be waivable in a contract.  Depends on the jurisdiction (choice of law part of the contract).

 

Also, if there is an arbitration clause in the contract it is up to the arbitrator to make some of the decisions.

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how can you prove where someone on a ship got the virus?  and why have their been suits about noro virus or flu on board in the past? i just cant believe someone could prevail on a ship saying the cruiseline was the reason the got the virus/died. 

 

in the non cruise world has walmart/mcdonalds etc been held responsible for causing someone to get it? or maybe the NYC subway etc. 

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The Ts and Cs will cover everything RCG can think of but if an event occurs and it’s bad PR then they will do whatever the have to manage their reputation as they see fit. 

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