Cruise ships are governed by maritime law and under maritime law, a cruise ship is a territory of the country in which it is registered. The cruise line headquarters location is usually immaterial because most cruise ships that operate from American ports are actually registered in one of three countries: Panama, Liberia or the Bahamas.
Cruise line companies use these countries because their laws are more lenient on cruise ships than U.S. laws.
If a cruise ship is registered in Panama, It is governed by Panama’s laws. This arrangement is called a flag of convenience (FOC) and will affect a cruise ship injury case’s handling.
The tickets and/or boarding passes are a contract between the passengers and the cruise operator. These documents will be written in accordance with the ship’s country of registry.
This country could provide limited liability laws that are favorable to cruise line operators. Prospective cruise passengers should read the ticket and boarding pass thoroughly. These documents will spell out what rights they do and do not have in the event of a cruise ship injury.
Read Your Cruise Line Passenger Ticket Carefully!
The most important concept passengers need to understand about the ticket is it is a binding contract between them and the cruise line operator.
If a cruise ship is registered in Liberia, Liberian laws will apply to the ship and passengers. Ships that operate out of Miami, Florida and visit the Bahamas , Liberian law still applies. This makes citizens of any country, except Liberia, international passengers.
U.S. citizens should seek a lawyer that specializes in cruise ship injury cases rather than their family lawyer. Many lawyers are not familiar with maritime law and could hurt their clients’ chance for a trial.
About Waks & Barnett, P.A.
Based in Miami, Waks & Barnett attorneys work with clients in Florida, throughout the United States and around the world. The firm’s attorneys practice in the areas of personal injury and wrongful death, with a specialization in admiralty and maritime cases.