Writing this article, I’m reminded of Seth Meyers’s joke at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner - addressing the Senate: “I don't think you read bills anyways. I think you guys vote on bills the same way the rest of us agree to updated terms and conditions on iTunes.”
Let’s be honest. Most of us don’t read the “fine print” of contracts and are often bound by terms and conditions we don’t understand or don’t even know exist. And most of us assume that lawyers drafting these contracts use standard form, kitchen sink, same ole’ same legalese that appears in all of the contracts we encounter in day-to-day life. We assume we’ll be protected by the law.
This assumption is the inspiration for this blog. I remember when I was writing my undergraduate thesis at the University of Florida. The irony was that I finally read the ticket-passenger contract to a cruise I had taken 6 months earlier. Oops. As I was reading the contract for my research, I remember thinking to myself, I really should have looked at this before I boarded the ship. Again, oops.
So, I’ve decided to prepare my list of the top 10 shocking contractual provisions in cruise line tickets. (I strongly advise picking up the contract and reading it in its entirety before stepping aboard).
The selected clauses are taken directly from Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s (“RCCL”) website. The following clauses are the Top 10 Shocking Clauses taken from RCCL’s Ticket-Passenger Contract for its passengers, excluding the Brilliance of the Seas.
1. We Don’t Care If You Have Read or Signed the Contract
“Purchase or use of this Ticket Contract, whether or not signed by the Passenger, shall constitute the agreement by Passenger, on behalf of himself and all other persons traveling under this Ticket Contract (including any accompanying minors or other persons for whom the Ticket Contract was purchased), to be bound by the terms and conditions of this Ticket Contract.”
2. No Jury Trials for You!
“This agreement requires the use of arbitration for certain disputes and waives any right to trial by jury to resolve those disputes.”
3. We’re Not Responsible for the Ship Doctor’s Malpractice
“Carrier assumes no liability whatsoever for any treatment, failure to treat, diagnosis, misdiagnosis, actual or alleged malpractice, advice, examination or other services provided by such persons or entities.”
4. We’re Not Responsible for the Excursions We Sell, Even if We Make Millions in Profits
“Even though Carrier may collect a fee for, or otherwise profit from, making such arrangements and offers for sale shore excursions, tours, hotels, restaurants, attractions, elements of the RCT Land Tour packages that are provided by independent contractors and other similar activities and services taking place off the Vessel for a profit, it does not undertake to supervise or control such independent contractors or their employees, nor maintain their conveyances or facilities, and makes no representation, whether express or implied, regarding their suitability or safety.”
5. Our Agents Can Kill You, But We’re Still Not Responsible
“In no event shall Carrier be liable for any loss, delay, disappointment, damage, injury, death or harm whatsoever to Passenger which occurs on or off the Vessel or the Transport as a result of any acts, omissions or negligence of any independent contractors.”
6. Live in Oregon and Injured on Cruise Ship in Mexico? You Have to Sue in Miami
“It is agreed by and between Passenger and Carrier that all disputes and matters whatsoever arising under, in connection with or incident to this agreement, Passenger’s cruise, cruisetour, RCT Land Tour or transport, shall be litigated, if at all, in and before the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida located in Miami-Dade County, Florida, U.S.A.”
7. Injured on a Cruise? You Lose Your Right to Sue Us If You Don’t Send Us a Letter in 6 Months and Sue Us in 1 Year
“The limits for personal injury/illness/death claims: no suit shall be maintainable against carrier, the vessel or the transport for personal injury, illness or death of any passenger unless written notice of the claim, with full particulars, shall be delivered to carrier at its principal office within six (6) months from the date of the injury, illness or death and suit is commenced (filed) within one (1) year from the date of such injury, illness or death and process served within 120 days after filing, notwithstanding any provision of law of any state or country to the contrary.”
8. If You’re Injured or Killed on a Ship Which Doesn’t Call on a U.S. Port, the Maximum Compensation is $70,000
“On cruises which neither embark, disembark nor call at any port in the United States, Carrier shall be entitled to any and all liability limitations, immunities and rights applicable to it under the “Athens Convention relating to the carriage of passengers and their luggage by sea” of 1974 (“Athens Convention”). The Athens Convention limits that Carrier’s liability for death or personal injury to a Passenger to no more than 46,666 special drawing rights as defined therein (approximately U.S. $70,000, which amount fluctuates, depending on daily exchange rate as printed in the Wall Street Journal).”
9. Don’t Even Think of Filing a Class Action Lawsuit
“Passenger hereby agrees that except as provided in the last sentence of this paragraph, Passenger may bring claims against Carrier only in Passenger’s individual capacity. Even if the applicable law provides otherwise, Passenger agrees that any arbitration or lawsuit against Carrier . . . shall be litigated by Passenger individually and not as a member of any class. . .”
10. We Can Search Your Cabin and Kick You Off The Ship If The Captain Says So
“Carrier may also change accommodations, alter or cancel any activities of, deny service of alcohol to, confine to a stateroom or quarantine, search the stateroom, property or baggage of any Passenger, change a Passenger's RCT Land Tour, disembark or refuse to embark the Passenger and/or any Passenger responsible for any minor Passenger, or restrain any Passenger at any time, without liability, at the risk and expense of the Passenger, when in the sole opinion of Carrier or Captain . . .”
Some of these terms and conditions are valid and enforceable, other clauses are not. Cruise Law News has reported on several of these issues in the past:
This article was written by a "guest blogger" for Cruise Law News, Caitlin Burke. Ms. Burke just finished her first year at law school at the University of Miami. Ms. Burke is a graduate from the University of Florida. She majored in Recreation, Parks and Sport Management. Ms. Burke wrote a senior honor's thesis entitled a "Qualitative Study of Victimization and Legal Issues Relevant to Cruise Ships."