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Cruise Ship mechanical failure problems and missed ports

Notes by Donald K. Burleson


Note: This web page is an internet literature review and opinion editorial written by a non-lawyer and it should not be construed as legal advice.  Consult a qualified attorney for any legal questions, not my web page.

There are many complains on the web about cruise ships that miss ports due to wholly preventable mechanical problems.  When you skip a port because of a foreseeable ship problem, the cruise ship personnel may attempt to force a settlement offer on you by placing money in your shipboard account  Be warned, accepting this payment could ruining your chances for negotiating a better payout at the guest relations desk.

Negotiating compensation for missed ports

If you are on a cruise where you miss a port because of a mechanical failure, you may not want to accept the cruise lines payout offer (which could be as small as a free rum punch!). 

Some ships are plagued with ongoing mechanical problems and some cruisers report that the ships sometimes have a bad engine when they are boarded by the passengers.

When you miss a port, everyone's damages are different, and your compensation might be far higher than other passengers, depending on your personal circumstances.  According to publications on the web, if you miss a port because of preventable mechanical failures or other problems, the cruise lines will usually offer a written gratuity offer, and they vary from a free run punch to a full free cruise, depending on the degree of inconvenience. 

For example, the Celebrity Infinity ship appears to have had ongoing mechanical problems due to their “mermaid pod propulsion” system, for which they filed a $300m lawsuit against the ship maker.  On my cruise, one engine had a failure and we were forced to skip a port, but we did get hundreds of dollars in ship credit as a “Goodwill gesture” for our trouble. 

Be firm, and document your damages

Some people suggest that complaining directly to your customer relations desk can often result in better compensation for your loss when you miss a cruise stop.

The "squeaky wheel gets the grease", and you need to complain loudly and firmly to get a just and fair compensation for ruining a vacation of a lifetime.  The cruise ship representatives have the authority to offer you additional cash, free airfare, future cruises at a greatly reduced rate.

You should be polite and professional, but quite insistent, refusing to leave until you receive just compensation.  The cruise ship personnel are trained to make it difficult, and being timid will get you nowhere.

When justify your request for additional compensation, it pays to be very specific about your losses and the amount that it would take to make things right.  For example, some passengers might be entitled to more compensation than other passengers, depending on special circumstances:

  • You have friends or family at the port.
  • You will never have another chance to visit the port again. (elderly, sick, or poor)
  • The missed port has ruined a special occasion (honeymoon, anniversary, birthday).

Be prepared to "camp-out" at the desk, and don't accept promises that you will be able to speak to someone later.  The guest relations personnel often have the ability to compensate you directly, despite their claims otherwise. 

Compensation and contracts

While you would have recourse within US law, you are on the high-seas and the cruise ship lines protect themselves very carefully in the cruise contracts. 

Please note that maritime law (dating from the 19th century) offers little protection, and you cruise contract clearly notes that your cruise has the right to miss any or all ports, and drop you off anywhere they like.

Please support the effort to bring cruise lines which server US passengers under the domain is USA laws so that cruise passengers can enjoy the same freedoms and protections at-sea that we have on-land.

NOTE: The opinions on this page are the sole opinion of Donald K. Burleson and does not reflect the opinions of Burleson Enterprises Inc. or any of its subsidiary companies.

See other related notes here:




Note: The opinions expressed on these pages are the sole opinion of Donald K. Burleson and do not reflect the opinions of Burleson Enterprises Inc. or any of its subsidiaries.

Suggestions?  We are always seeking new tips for the professional at leisure, and any suggestions would be most welcome.  If you find an error or have a suggestion for improving our content, we would appreciate your feedback. 

Copyright � 1996 -  2010 by Donald K Burleson. All rights reserved.