Originally Posted by Iamboatman
Let me put on my admiralty lawyer hat here (check me out: www.yachtlaw.com
). The cruise contract is not infallible and is not, in actual terms, the only governing item. Certain aspects of contracts are routinely found to be contrary to law and, therefore, unenforceable. Other terms are found to be material under the law, so they are implicitly added to the contract.
One area of the law where there is a wealth of examples, are limitation of liability clauses. In many respects they simply do not...forgive me...hold water. Further, under European laws there are many instances where travel contracts are held void because the seller (in this case it might be a cruise line) did not fulfill the material terms of the contract so the passenger is entitled to a full refund. (How about you purchase a hotel room and the room is great except for the bed bugs and broken window. Are you obligated to pay even if there is a no cancellation clause or liability clause when they say, "Sign here"?)
There are many times when it is not about doing what is legally required, but simply doing what is right. It is an old and many times forgotten concept that only those looking to impinge on someone's rights takes the contract out of the drawer where it has been kept.
I completely agree that what RCI ended up doing was morally correct. I don't however think it was morally correct for people who were not injured physically in this event to demand additional compensation. Normally limit of liability contracts in this day and age are taken out to CYA against law suits that are often without merit, but that can still suck up mountains of money in court.
As for European law I'm not even sure it applies here. These are US based companies, with headquarters in Florida (one of the things listed in the contracts is that all court cases must be brought in Dade County court, or some such area). In addition none of these ships are registered in Europe, but usually in a country like Liberia, or Panama. If you were trying to bring a case against them that would be the most likely venue to have jurisdiction after the companies headquarters location. One might argue that a case could be brought by the country the voyage originates in but that is subject to some debate. About the only recourse a country would have against the cruise lines as punishment if they refused to do so would be to ban them from their ports. Now that's no small thing in a lot of places, but it is hardly going to carry the weight that millions or billions of dollars in penalties might, or even the revocation of a ships registration might.
I'm not upset that RCI manned(or womanned up if you prefer
) up and did the morally correct thing here. I don't think you can look at any of my posts on this topic and claim that. I am upset that people's first response to a negative situation is to look for a scapegoat, additional compensation, and someone to blame and that they seem to walk around with a sense of entitlement. I'm also annoyed at how incredibly soft we've become when people think that a little bit of heavy weather is sooo traumatizing. Lord, sometimes life happens, find your sea legs, role with the punches and get over it. Be thankful you are alive and safe and not seriously injured.