MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In the wake of the disastrous journey of the Carnival Triumph over the last week, many passengers are questioning exactly what their rights are when it comes to cruise vacations.

“What are my legal rights,” asked Camille Horvat, jokingly. “Can I have a copy?”

She’s excited to go on her cruise and joked about what she agreed to when she bought her ticket to cruise. But not many people know, when you buy a ticket, you agree to bunch of legally binding rules, regulations and conditions set by the cruise company, spelled out in a lot of fine print.

“I do that whole ‘agree thing,’” said passenger Bruce Welnez, talking about how he checks the “agree” box when he make his purchase. “I don’t read thru that whole thing. It’s a huge thing you scroll through.”

“I think it’s just a page and a half or two at the most,” said fellow cruiser Donna Malone.

“Thumb through that,” suggested CBS 4’s Ted Scouten as he handed her a cruise agreement. “How many pages are there?”

“One, two,” said Malone as she began counting. “Eight!” she said after finishing her count. “Let me get my attorney to read this,” her husband Joe joked. “I probably didn’t read it to be honest with you,” Donna admitted.

“A lot of people don’t know that some of their rights,” said Hollywood attorney David Singer. “On a cruise, they’ve signed away even before they enter the ship.”

Singer knows these cruise conditions very well.

“This is what I would call a contract of adhesion, take it or leave it,” he explained. “Really, it’s a gun to your head.”

Singer pointed out most cruise lines say if you’re going to sue, you must file a notice to sue within six months and file suit within a year. And many cruise lines require you sue only in Federal court and only in Miami.

Something else people don’t realize, in some cases the passenger agrees to not sue at all, but go thru arbitration.

“If it was any other contract with anybody under the sun, you could cross out clauses you could negotiate this and that,” he said.

“Ya just dampened my style,” said Horvat. “I’m gonna read it though, it’s one of the bags somewhere. I’m gonna take a look at it tonight before we get on the ship; so I’ll be prepared.”

Once you read all the fine print and you find you don’t like what you’re reading, you do have an option; however you may not like it. That is to stay home.

Attorneys suggested if you decide to go on the cruise, you should read through the fine print, just so you know what you’re getting into.


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