Issue 9 2021

Sea-Sick: Legal Remedies for Cruise Ship Passengers Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic

by Monica PECHOUS

Since December 2019, over 3,600 people have been infected with coronavirus or coronavirus-like illnesses aboard cruise ships. Whether infected or not, many passengers assert that cruise lines negligently handled COVID-19 outbreaks on board ships, posing a significant risk to their health, safety, and emotional well being. Various laws, including the Death on the High Seas Act, offer limited legal recovery for impacted passengers. However, the effectiveness of such laws depends heavily on the language of cruise carriage contracts, the country in which a cruise line is registered, and the maritime zone in which the injury occurred. This Comment argues that despite existing roadblocks to legal recovery across various international jurisdictions, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic calls for the development of a modernised form of legal recourse for cruise ship passengers.

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