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Our Maritime Blog

Title: The Cruise Ship Passenger Ticket-Sole Discretion

Author: Paul M. Hoffman

Category: The Cruise Ship Passenger Ticket

Date: 2011-09-10

The ticket passengers purchase contains many important provisions which are binding on passengers. The ticket is a maritime contract and the admiralty courts will not hesitate to enforce its provisions in regard to claims brought by passengers against the cruise line. The ticket contract contains numerous provisions which may be materially different from laws that are familiar to passengers or their non-maritime lawyers at home. Failing to familiarize oneself with these provisions can lead to a loss of important rights.

A rarely understood but very important provision deals with the right of the cruise line to either disembark or refuse to embark or to restrain a passenger whose presence on board may, in the sole discretion of the cruise line, constitute a danger to himself or to others. The ticket contract gives the cruise line sole discretion to decide these matters. So if a passenger's son gets into a fight with another passenger, the cruise line has the right to kick one or more of the kids off the ship without compensation. If the kids are underage, the parents could be disembarked as well. If one or more of the parents gets into trouble, the entire family can be disembarked.

If a passenger has a heart attack, or develops an illness while on board, the ship can decide to wait until the next port to disembark the passenger if it believes that evacuation may pose a greater risk of harm than leaving the passenger on board. If it makes a wrong decision, there may be no claim if there was a basis for the cruise line to act in the way that it did.

If it turns out that the passenger suffers a greater injury by being kept on board, or is disembarked in a place where adequate medical facilities may not exist and suffers injury, or if the handcuffs are put on too tightly in trying to restrain a violent passenger or one that is perceived to be violent, there may very well be no claim, so long as the cruise line has a basis to justify its actions. The only way to get around this provision is to be able to show that the cruise line acted with malice or bad faith toward the passenger. If the cruise line is merely negligent or careless, it is protected by the sole discretion clause in the passenger ticket contract.

Remember to read the passenger ticket carefully. If you have any questions at all about what a ticket provision means, you should consult a maritime lawyer without delay. My office is available to assist passengers on a 24 hour a day basis. Send me an email.