Cruise Ship Passenger Contracts: The Trip of a Lifetime, or a Voyage through Clauses, Conventions and Confusion?

Rosemary Gibson


When booking or embarking on a cruise, a passenger almost invariably receives a standard form contract setting out the conditions of carriage. These contract are typically offered by the contracting carrier on a 'take it or leave it basis'. This article analyses the standard terms and conditions of five of the major cruise operators with a view to ascertaining the commonality between the terms offered, the reasonableness or otherwise of these terms, and the differences between these terms and the relevant international liability conventions. This article also considers the common law issues that commonly arise with respect to cruise contracts, the documents that may potentially comprise the contract, and the interaction between a carrier's standard terms and domestic and international liability regimes. This article concludes that more widespread adoption of the Athens Convention 2002 is desirable as it would provide greater protection to passengers and certainty to the industry.


Contract law; cruise

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