Experts Weigh in on Senator Charles Schumer's Call for a Cruise Passenger "Bill of Rights"

In the wake of Senator Charles Schumer's call for a cruise passenger "Bill of Rights," industry experts are weighing in on the advisability of new regulation.

Dr. Andrew O. Coggins, Jr., an expert on the cruise industry, says, “The cruise industry is heavily regulated on multiple levels. On the International Level they are subject to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) which is responsible for the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response, and Cooperation (OPRC), International Safety Management Code (ISM), International Ship & Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREG) and International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). It is also subject to International Labor Organization (ILO) and closely scrutinized by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) regarding labor practices.

“Under Maritime Law a ship is under the laws of and an extension of the country in which she is registered. In other words, the country whose flag is flying at the stern. When she is in port, she can be inspected to make sure she is in compliance with international regulations by the Port State. If she is not she may be prevented from sailing. 

“In the United States, the US Coast Guard and United States Public Health Service (USPHS) conduct surprise and routine health and safety inspections under Port State authority. The Federal Maritime Commission also requires companies embarking passengers in the U.S. to post a bond against non-performance.

“Classification Societies inspect the ship when built and at regular intervals to insure that she is suitable for the trade in which she is engaged, in other words ‘In Class.’ If deficiencies are found they must be corrected in order to get back ‘In Class.’ If you are not ‘In Class’ you can't get insurance and may be detained by the Port State. 

“The four major cruise corporations, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Star, and MSC control 80 percent of the cruise fleet. Their ships cost between $500,000 and $1.5 billion each. They make sure that they are in compliance with existing regulations. It's good practice from both a business and public relations viewpoint. Most ‘fly-by-night’ operators have been driven out of the market by the globalization of the industry in which the majors are operating worldwide.

“A ‘bill of rights’ for cruise passengers, as suggested by Sen. Charles Schumer, would have to go through the IMO or the international organization that governs international tickets. The US Coast Guard is our nation’s representative at the IMO in Geneva.”

Dr. Andrew O. Coggins, Jr., an expert on the cruise industry, is clinical professor of Management at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business in New York. He teaches courses in international management and hospitality and tourism management. His research areas include all aspects of the cruise industry, hospitality facilities design and management and travel and tourism management.

A graduate of the German Armed Forces Staff College, Dr. Coggins is a retired U.S. Navy Commander with 10 years of seagoing experience in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and 10 years of international and diplomatic assignments in Europe. He has spoken at numerous cruise industry conferences on a variety of topics and has also written articles for Cruise & Ferry Info, Cruise Industry News Quarterly, Cruise Business Review and Designs 97 on different technical subjects.

Dr. Coggins can be reached by phone at 212.618.6416 or 914.946.2483, or by email at [email protected].