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Sen. Schumer calls for cruise ship bill of rights to protect travelers

March 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
With the number of cruise ship nightmares mounting, there's a new effort under way to protect future travelers.

New York Senator Charles Schumer is calling on the cruise ship industry to adopt a ''bill of rights'' to guarantee passengers certain protections.

Since many cruise ships are regulated by their host countries, the senator is calling on the Secretary of State to negotiate with countries that U.S. passengers use to adopt the rights.

Under the bill, cruise ships must guarantee sanitary conditions, back-up power, medical staff and a full refund if a trip is abruptly canceled due to mechanical problems. In the past two months, at least three ships carrying U.S. passengers have experienced problems.

The Carnival Cruise ship Legend returned to port Sunday in Channelside, Fla., after the company said a technical issue with one of the ship's thrusters affected its sailing speed. The mechanical problems forced the ship to bypass two scheduled stops including a stop at the Grand Cayman Islands.

Passenger Jeff Cario said his seven-day Caribbean vacation took a turn for the worst.

"Terrible trip, canceled early, three days at sea, missed two stops and they only gave us a hundred bucks," Cario said.

Passenger Brandy Sumpter was left outraged.

"Oh, I plan on contacting my lawyer," Sumper said. "I plan on contacting the Better Business Bureau. I plan on writing plenty of complaints on their website."

Passengers on the Carnival Dream were also stranded in St. Marteen last week. The company sent its passengers home by air Thursday after an on-board generator problem halted their trip.

According to Schumer, there is virtually no regulation of these cruise ships and their standards.

"Any traveler can tell you it can be scary to watch the shore drift away as you're hundreds of miles out to sea," Schumer said, "but to be out at sea without access to a doctor, electricity, toilet facilities, that's unconscionable."

Carnival Cruise ship Legend departed Sunday afternoon for its next trip at a slightly reduced speed while technicians continued to make repairs.

More than 4,000 passengers on the Carnival Triumph were also left stranded in the Gulf of Mexico without power or working toilets last month. Investigators said a leak in a fuel oil return line started an engine-room fire which left the Triumph stranded at sea.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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