European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "We are keeping our promise. We are about to complete the job started some years ago: a coherent policy on passenger rights in Europe for all modes of transport. From now on, the 200 million people travelling by ship every year will have protection under this new set of rules."
As from today, passengers travelling by sea and inland waterways in the EU, and in particular disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, will benefit from similar rights to those passengers travelling by air or by train. These new rights include:
adequate and accessible information for all passengers before and during their journey, as well as general information about their rights in terminals and on board ships;
adequate assistance such as snacks, meals, refreshments and, where necessary, accommodation up to three nights, with a financial coverage up to €80 per night in case of cancellation or delay at departure of more than 90 minutes;
guaranteed choice between reimbursement or rerouting in case of cancellation or delay at departure of more than 90 minutes;
compensation, between 25% and 50% of the ticket price, in situations of delay at arrival;
non-discriminatory treatment and specific, free-of-charge, assistance for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, both at port terminals and on board ships, as well as financial compensation for loss of or damage to their mobility equipment;
mechanisms to handle passenger complaints to be put in place by carriers and terminal operators;
appointment of independent national bodies in charge of enforcing the regulation, where appropriate, through the application of penalties.
In addition, as from 31 December 2012, passengers involved in an accident when travelling by sea will have the following rights under EU law:
financial compensation in case of death, personal injury, and loss of or damage to luggage, vehicles, and mobility or other special equipment;
advance payment (within 15 days) to cover immediate economic needs in case of death or personal injury;
direct recourse against the carrier's insurance provider in case of death or personal injury;
right to receive appropriate and comprehensible information regarding the above rights prior to or –at the latest – upon departure.