Compensation Culture

fred henderson
10th February 2006, 00:20
We live in an age where in most cases, people feel that if they have a problem someone must be responsible and they should receive compensation. The QM2 suffered a damaged propulsor unit after the pilot hit the bank leaving Fort Lauderdale. As a result the US authorities detained her for 2 days for safety checks before she could sail. She was then obliged to sail non-stop to Rio to overcome the delay. The passengers demanded and obtained a full refund. “Cunard should have told us it would not be possible to maintain the original programme.” I would have thought that it would have been blindingly obvious that if your departure is 2 days late and your ship only has three quarter power, she will not be able to maintain the original schedule.

The latest example of this phenomenon is a recently completed voyage around Cape Horn by Celebrity’s Millennium. As a result of severe weather the passengers were unable to land by tender at a southern Argentinean port and at Port Stanley. This meant that they had to spend FIVE DAYS at sea! “The crew tell us that storms are common in the Cape Horn area. Celebrity should have told us. We demand a full refund!” Who could imagine that the sea in the far South Atlantic may be rough?

Carnival and Royal Caribbean can absorb these problems, but many of the small cruise operators live in very precarious financial circumstances. A full repayment of a cruise would probably tip them over the edge. You can see the pressure that could be placed upon a Captain to keep to the advertised itinerary, with possible disastrous consequences.


11th February 2006, 00:57

What may be obvious to you (and admittedly most people) regarding potential bad weather around Cape Horn is clearly not obvious to many punters who look at brochures, see a ship and pretty places and think it will be like taking a coach trip.

In general I agree with your comments about the compensation culture but I can sympathise with the passengers you describe to some extent if they had not been warned in advance about potential changes from the planned route and dates.

I don't think it would be necessary for the owners to take additional risks with people's lives to avoid compensation payments if the advertising brochures and booking forms included a statement to the effect that "The company has the right to change the route, places visited etc. in the event of unforeseen circumstances or adverse weather conditions" (obviously couched in the appropriate legalese. Presumably this is not done at present or I would have thought these compensation claims would fail. Though maybe the companies are paying up to avoid bad publicity rather than because they think they will get shafted in court. I suppose it might put some people off, but it may make the voyage sound more exciting to others.


11th February 2006, 01:13
From the latest P&O Australia Cruise Brochure under Passage Conditions (the small print):

"2. We reserve the right, if we think it necessary, to deviate from the ship's advertised route, to delay or cancel part of, or the whole cruise, to substitute or change the ship or ports of call, to remove the ship from service, to charter out the ship/part of the ship or otherwise limit the availability of cabins, or to tow or assist any vessel or perform any similar act, in our absolute discretion or that of the Captain. In such event P&O Cruises shall not be required to refund any portion of the fare, make any other compensation or be liable for any other consequential damage, loss, expense, loss of time or inconvenience. Accordingly, you should not make any important arrangements or meetings based on the propsed itinerary of the cruise, which may change without liability to P&O Cruises."

Seems pretty clear. Surely other large Companies have such clauses?

fred henderson
11th February 2006, 14:00
Another example of the pressure being placed operators is an attack on Cal Mac by the vice-convener of the Western Islands Council, or "Comhairle Eilean Siar" as it now calls itself. Mr Angus Campbell complained that Cal Mac's service was unreliable because the freight ferry Muirneag was late on a November crossing from Ullapool after it had spent many hours riding out a storm. Cal Mac had to undertake an enquiry into the seamanship and professionalism of the crew to justify the delay.
Cal Mac state that they retain full confidence in the crew. I would have been inclined to tell this petty politician that the operation and safety of the ship was entirely a matter for the Captain and if Mr Campbell is a true islander he should be well aware of the need to respect the sea, not a timetable. Unfortunately Cal Mac depends on subsidies and the operating licence is due for renewal.


Chief Engineer's Daughter
11th February 2006, 15:13
I was going to say something here but I will have to hold my tongue. Needless to say guys, I know where you are comming from.

11th February 2006, 17:20
All I can say is that if they have spent several days on a luxurious ship enjoying themselves, they should be greatful that they are there at all.

12th February 2006, 13:59
I agree with Fred about the compensation culture. As a medic, when out I never say I am. If a message comes over asking for a doctor, I keep quiet, and so do many others. Why, because if something goes wrong they will sue. That is how drastic things have become. The above posts also prove my point that modern day cruising is nothing more than an extension of shoreside holidays with the ship no more than a floating hotel with shore side language to match. This is why I am so worried as to what would hapen in an emergency when people do not understand nautical terminology. However, the same applies to the fact that some passengers do not have a clue that a ship can't make up time without missing out ports, or that sea conditions could mean they cannot call at a port. Benjidog is right when he says that punters look at a pretty brochure and think it is like taking a coach trip. And Newda898 is right to say that they should be greatful to be there at all. But some of these people are so rich, they have no idea what it is like to be poor. As they saying goes: "Money attracts money". It is nothing more than pure greed, and they don't care how they get it even if a medic saves their life, their next act is to sue him. Yes Fred, we DO live in a compensation culture. Man's selfishness is also his downfall?!. David

Alan Hill
13th February 2006, 13:42
Extremely interesting exchange of opinions above. I will admit that I have a tendency to think that we Americans are the only people who demand the above kinds of compensation but when you read inputs from around the world on any subject I realize that those bad traits of people know no boundaries/countries. It doesn't make me any less disappointed in people per se but I realize that the only people in the boat aren't Americans. Alan Hill Bridgeport, Pa. USA

13th February 2006, 14:22
When I moved back from Shetland to Anglesey the Northlink ferry was late getting in to Aberdeen (it got in after twelve instead of 7). This was due to a south easterly gale which had been blowing for a couple of days in the area and affected the tides at Aberdeen. We knew the score as we were told of the situation whilst boarding and a note was handed out stating the conditions. To my knowledge, no one complained, after all s**t happens. My only complaint however, was that they opened and closed the cafe at the same time as usual and those of us who were a little under the weather and stayed in our bunks went hungry! But, as I say, s**t happens!

14th February 2006, 00:15
Very interesting comments. I picked up a Celebrity 06-07 brochure last week. A beautiful production and on P95 of the 96 page booklet is a clause that quite clearly states similar terms and conditions as posted by Flyer 682 from P&O. Pretty bleeding obvious I would say, once again READ the SMALL PRINT. Incidentally can anybody explain why, in this beautiful brochure there is not,(except for some thumnails on the back cover) not one pix of a "complete" ship of their fleet..i.e.from stem to stern!! There is however a complete double page spread of a funnel. Is it because the grotesque appe arance of these ships may offend the sensibilities of the average punter? Maybe somebody associated with RCCL/Celebrity could be reading this exchange and respond. David Duggan.