Ship passenger rights
Did you know that you have certain rights when you are on a journey by ship in the EU?
Firstly you may not be charged a higher price for a ticket because of your nationality or where you are buying the ticket from.
Secondly, you also have rights in case things go wrong. This concerns delays and cancellations that prevent you from boarding…
…and applies if you are:
- leaving a port in the EU with any carrier
- arriving in a port in the EU with any carrier
These rules do not apply to:
- ships that can carry fewer than 13 passengers
- ships that have no more than 3 members of crew
- ships that cover a distance of less than 500 meters, one way
- most sorts of historical ships
- excursion and sightseeing ships – if they do not have accommodation facilities, or if the overnight stay does not exceed 2 nights on board.
Cancellation or delay
If the service is cancelled or delayed, you always have the right to adequate and timely information about what is happening while you are waiting.
If the service is cancelled or departure is delayed for more than 90 minutes, you will be offered a choice:
- Either you can get a refund for your ticket and where necessary a free return journey back to your initial departure point – for instance if the delay stops you from fulfilling the purpose of your trip
- or you can be transported, under similar conditions, to your final destination at the earliest opportunity and at no extra cost.
If your trip's departure is delayed by more than 90 minutes, in most cases you are also entitled to:
- meals and refreshments – proportionate to the waiting time
- accommodation – if you have to stay overnight
If your trip's arrival at destination is delayed by more than 1 hour, you are entitled to compensation. Depending of the length of the delay, the compensation is either 25% or 50% of the ticket price.
You will not receive compensation if the delay was caused by severe weather conditions or natural disasters.
If you think your rights have not been respected, you can complain to the carrier within 2 months of the date on which the event happened. The carrier must react within 1 month and give you a final reply 2 months after receiving the complaint.
If you are not satisfied with their reply, you can contact the national enforcement body.
Accidents at sea
If you are injured in an accident at sea, you are entitled to compensation from the carrier or its insurer. In the event of death, compensation can be claimed by your successors.
You also have a right to compensation by the carrier if your luggage, vehicles or other belongings are lost or damaged in an accident at sea.
If you have reduced mobility, compensation for loss of or damage to wheelchairs or other such equipment will cover the full cost of replacement or repair.
You have a right to receive an advance payment from the carrier to cover immediate needs in case of injury or death caused by:
- Stranding of the ship
- Explosion or fire on the ship
- Defect in the ship
You can submit a claim for compensation for any loss or damage during an accident at sea to a court in the country:
- where the carrier has its main place of business or permanent residence, or
- where your place of departure or destination is, or
- where you permanently live – if the carrier has a place of business there and is subject to that country's jurisdiction, or
- where the travel contract was concluded – if the carrier has a place of business there and is subject to that country's jurisdiction.
If your luggage is lost or damaged, you must inform the carrier in writing. You should ideally do this either by the time you leave the ship, or by the time the luggage is eventually delivered. At the very latest, you must inform the carrier within 15 days of disembarkation or delivery, otherwise, you will lose your right to compensation.
In general, you must bring your claim to the courts within 2 years of the incident – although the starting point for this period can differ, depending on the nature of the loss or damage.