QLD Cruising through a cyclone

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by dch_jw, 22 April 2018.

  1. dch_jw

    dch_jw Member

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    My daughter and her partner were on a 6-night cruise from Brisbane to Cairns return, that went through tropical cyclone Iris (in both directions - first as a low then as a cyclone). The only day the outdoor activities on the boat could operate was the day it was docked in Cairns. The rough seas made it impossible to do anything but sit around. Even the onboard shows were cancelled as the dancers could not perform safely.

    A cruise is purchased as a specific all-inclusive holiday experience, where the cruise ship provides for accommodation, food and a range of entertainment activities. When bad weather and rough seas strike it can be anything but an enjoyable or entertaining holiday experience. Cruise companies can't be held to account for bad weather in general, but what if they deliberately and intentionally set sail knowing that the weather is bad and likely to get far worse and that there is little to no chance of passengers actually having an enjoyable cruise experience? The ship was even delayed departing 5 hours due to the bad weather it experienced returning to Brisbane from the Coral Sea. Should they have cancelled the cruise or given passengers the chance to opt out and get a refund? And given they didn't do that, should passengers now be entitled to some form of compensation?

    They have complained to the cruise company but the company just cites the T&C's relating to changes in itinerary - but we're not claiming for any change in itinerary (there was a minor change in that the ship did not go from Cairns to Willis Island before heading back to Brisbane).

    I'm hoping that under consumer law the fact the cruise company knew beforehand that they would not be able to provide anything like a normal, enjoyable cruise experience, opens the door for some form of refund/compensation.

    Thank you.
     
  2. Rob Legat - SBPL

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    Without seeing their terms, I would almost guarantee that there are clauses in there that cover this type of situation.
     
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  3. dch_jw

    dch_jw Member

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    Here's an example of the T&C:
    Cruise Ticket Contract | Terms and Conditions | Legal | Carnival Cruise Lines
    The only reference to bad weather is in relation to itinerary changes - which as I said is the clause they keep throwing back at us. But this isn't about an itinerary change, it's about knowing beforehand that they would not be able to deliver a reasonable cruise experience.

    Thanks.
     
  4. Rob Legat - SBPL

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    I think the problem may lie in their use of the word "itinerary" - which is not defined in their terms and conditions. It may be that they mean the term to include shipboard activities.

    That aside, you'd have to somehow prove that they knew the weather would be too severe to deliver the services.
     
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  5. dch_jw

    dch_jw Member

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    I think that's easy enough to prove. All the weather models were showing extreme conditions. I was following this closely through a couple of weather sites. Heck I knew a week before they left that there was a strong chance of them hitting a cyclone that week.

    Thanks.
     
  6. Rob Legat - SBPL

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    "Strong chance" isn't "knew it would be". They would also need to overcome any argument that it would be reasonable to expect that bad weather would limit the services available.
     
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  7. dch_jw

    dch_jw Member

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    "strong chance" was me a week before, not them the day they were due to depart. By departure day ex-Iris was either going to remain a low and hit the FNQ coast, or else reform into a cyclone and stay just off the coast. Either way severe wind and waves for an ocean vessel heading to Cairns and back.

    They have strict rules on what wind and wave conditions prevent on-deck activities. The predicted winds and waves would have forced them to close on safety grounds alone.

    There's no way they could reasonably argue that there was a fair probability of the cruise being able to operate as normal.

    Cheers.
     
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