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Sen. Chuck Schumer pushes bill of rights for cruise ship passengers

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sen. Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, is pushing for passage of a passenger bill of rights for cruise line travelers, following a handful of incidences that left tourists sick and stranded in the middle of the ocean.

Poor weather is an understandable reason to delay a ship, the senator said, in a report from The Hill. But technical failure is not.

"It can be scary to watch the shore drift away as you're hundreds of miles out to sea," Mr. Schumer said. "But to be out to sea without access to a doctor, electricity, toilet facilities — that's unconscionable."

Mr. Schumer's proposal is akin to what's afforded airline travelers, The Hill says. It also requires all cruise ships to have medical officials who are both on board and be prepared for emergencies. Also in his plan: Ships must carry backup generators. Ship operators are responsible for maintaining a sanitary environment, even during delays.

Ships that violate the provisions would have to reimburse passengers, his plan states.

"If failures — mechanical, plumbing or otherwise — occur on these ships, passengers should get a full refund," Mr. Schumer said.

His proposal comes on the heels of a Triumph ship disaster, in which 4,000 people were stranded at sea for four days. Another Carnival cruise line ship, the Dream, was then stranded in the Caribbean.

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