New rights for passengers travelling by sea and inland waterways

The world cruise ship

After months of speculation, the European Parliament and the Council have given the go ahead for passengers travelling by sea and inland waterways to be afforded similar rights as air and rail passengers.

The regulations are due to be published on 9 December 2010 and come into force at the end of 2012.

The new rights include:

  • guarantee of reimbursement or rerouting in situations of cancellation or of delay at departure of more than 90 minutes;
  • 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 situations of cancellation or delay at departure of more than 90 minutes;
  • compensation, between 25% and 50% of the ticket price, in situations of delay in arrival or cancellation of journeys;
  • non-discriminatory treatment and specific assistance free of charge for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility both at port terminals and on board ships, as well financial compensation for loss or damage of their mobility equipment;
  • minimum rules on information for all passengers before and during their journey, as well as general information about their rights in terminals and on board ships;
  • establishment by carriers and terminal operators of complaint handling mechanism available to passengers;
  • establishment of independent national bodies for the enforcement of the regulation, through, where appropriate, the application of penalties.

Ferry passengers to get same rights as air passengers

ferry

It looks as though ferry passengers are to be afforded the same rights as air passengers following a vote by the European Parliament.

At present, passengers travelling by sea or inland waterways only have the right to a refund or a booking on a later sailing if their travel is disrupted, whereas air passengers are entitled to compensation if their flight is cancelled or delayed.

Under new rules, which could come into force in two years passengers could be given:

  • guarantee of reimbursement or rerouting in situations of cancellation or of delay at departure of more than 90 minutes,
  • 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 situations of cancellation or delay at departure of more than 90 minutes,
  • compensation, between 25% and 50% of the ticket price, in situations of delay in arrival or cancellation of journeys,
  • non-discriminatory treatment and specific assistance free of charge for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility both at port terminals and on board ships, as well financial compensation for loss or damage of their mobility equipment.

In addition, the new rights would ensure that new minimum rules on information for all passengers before and during their journey, as well as general information about their rights in terminals and on board ships.

The establishment by carriers and terminal operators of complaint handling mechanism that would be available to passengers, and the establishment of independent national bodies for the enforcement of the regulation, through, where appropriate, the application of penalties.

All that remains now is for the Council to confirm the agreement reached with the Parliament for this regulation to be formally adopted. The Regulation is due to enter into force two years after its adoption.