Cruise Compensation - Can I Make A Claim?

June 28, 2018


Personal Injury


Kristen Brown

Aussies love a cruise - in fact, we love them more than most - and who can blame us? You've got babysitting on board, unlimited access to food and drinks and you don't have to worry about how you're getting home. But when it comes to travelling in a confined space with two thousand others, there are a few mistakes you can make that can leave you without a paddle.

So what happens if you're left in the rough on your trip - can you claim compensation on your cruise?

Here are 4 holiday-hazards that can happen to you and who is at fault if they do.

1: My Cruise Ship Left Me Behind

Majority rules when it comes to this one and therefore the two or so thousand other people on your ship can't be expected to wait an extra 15 minutes for you to finish your bevvy. Even if you're not at fault and your tour guide lost their way, or there's extra traffic for example, the cruise must go on!  The only way to safeguard yourself against missing the boat is to book your tour through your cruise provider. Yeah, they might be more expensive and offer a more 'generic' experience but they'll contact your cruise to let them know you're running late and to wait. 

If you do end up missing the boat, you could be up for more than just travel expenses to the next docking point. Depending on where you are in your cruise you might have to fly all the way back home, and if you can't get your flight straight away, you might have to pay for overnight accomodation. You'll also have to pay the cruise to pack up and send you the belongings you left on the boat. And if you think your travel insurance includes "missed port" cover - think again! Most travel insurance providers have conditions which state it only comes into effect in the case of bad weather conditions.

2: I Got Sick On My Cruise And It Ruined My Holiday

This is one of the main concerns for many people when they get aboard. Sharing the same space with so many others means you're likely to catch something if you've spent too much time at a dodgy buffet or even touched a bug-riddled railing. Warning signs include extra banister cleans, shared eating areas being closed down and if it's really bad, they'll even put signs up and lock people in their rooms until they have the all clear.  So what can you do if you catch something like Norovirus and it completely ruins your holiday?

In February 2017, a class action against the Sun Princess ship was taken as 100 people caught Norovirus while on board. After disembarking and boarding a new lot of passengers, 176 of them were reportedly unwell with the same gastro bug. The passengers are seeking compensation for their trip due to the questionable cleanliness of the ship. If you find yourself bedridden on your cruise, finding out whether it is the fault of the cruise staff will be determined by what percentage of the ship gets sick. If it's just you and your family, it could have easily been caught from someone on land before you set sail. If a lot of people have been struck down, then it can be assumed that the staff on the ship were negligent in some way and it might be worth trying to seek compensation.

3: I Drank Too Much And Got Hurt On Board

Cruise ships are definitely known for their party atmosphere and with the 'cashless cruising' policy on board and the easy stroll back to your room - it's hard not to be tempted to indulge night after night. But what comes into question are the beverage packages that are on offer through many cruises. P&O for example offer 'the lot' beverage package where everything including wine, beer, cocktails and energy drinks are unlimited to you daily. To make matters worse, in their T&Cs you must purchase the package for everyday of your trip, you can't choose to have just a couple big nights. With no limit on how many a person can purchase and often no specified time limit between purchasing drinks it's questionable whether this really is a Responsible Service of Alcohol. So can you claim compensation? And what level of moral culpability does the cruise company have if you drink too much and get hurt... or worse? 

In May 2016, a Sue Broberg was intoxicated aboard a Carnival Cruise and fell overboard and died. Her husband claimed compensation as witnesses said bartenders continued to serve her, even though she was “visibly and highly inebriated" and falling asleep at the bar. This isn't the only case where negligence by bartenders is being blamed for deaths and injuries on a cruise. Sarah Kirby survived a seven story fall into the ocean in 2014 and amongst other things, is claiming compensation from Carnival Cruises as she alleges a bartender was "pushing" her to drink more, which led to her fall. Even though approximately 20 people fall of cruise ships every year, of the thousands who are injured aboard, what percentage could be blamed on the cruise staff? If you feel like you have been pressured to drink by a staff member on board your cruise, make sure you report it immediately. If you have been hurt due to this, reporting the incident and speaking to witnesses on the night could help you find out if you have a claim. 

4: My Belongings Were Stolen On My Cruise

Getting travel insurance is a must when travelling on a cruise, purely for this reason alone. Even if you don't plan on taking valuables with you (which is recommended), travel insurance will reimburse you for things like your phone, wallet and passport - if they are lost under the right circumstances of course.  There are some terms and conditions that are written in your insurance policy though.

Here are some surprising circumstances where you might not be covered:

  • If luggage or belongings are lost or stolen while they are accompanying you, they are usually covered. But surprisingly if someone else is carrying your belongings, they can be classified as 'unattended' and your claim will not be processed.
  • Say you're swimming in the on board pool and your watch is stolen from under your towel, even though you are on board this will still be classified as it being 'unattended'. 
  • If someone steals belongings you leave in your room after you've checked out you will not be covered.
  • If you don't complete the correct documentation within the set time frames - such as reporting the theft within 24 hours, then you might waive your right to claim cruise compensation.

Have you ever been left without a paddle on a cruise? Let us know in the comments below!

Kristen Brown
Rebecca Earl

Social Media and Content Marketing Specialist at Smith's Lawyers

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