Consumer Group calls on EU Commission to act on Ship's Passenger Safety

HolidayTravelWatch has been closely involved in the growing ships safety debate, particularly since the demise of the Costa Concordia.  In recent years, the Organisation has highlighted holiday complaints which include mass outbreaks of illness reputed to be 'norovirus', passengers held in quarantine during illness outbreaks, poor medical treatment, over-flowing sewage, flooding of public and cabin areas, poor food hygiene, lifeboat safety, assaults, sexual assaults and harassment, whilst hearing about the conditions that crew have to endure may contribute to the litany of problems.

HolidayTravelWatch has endeavoured to engage the EU Commission on these important issues for several years with disappointing results.

At present there are two 'departments' in the EU Commission examining Maritime issues - DG MARE from the perspective of creating an EU-wide 'blue economy' and DG MOVE who have apparently been looking at issues of Ships Safety since 2010 and who recently held a Stakeholder's meeting in Brussels.

The Organisation has responded to the formal Consultation from DG MARE (this Consultation is designed to give the DG an 'insight' into Maritime issues before the EU Maritime Day).  In the Consultation, HolidayTravelWatch has highlighted several issues:

  1. When policy is being created by the EU Commission, it must have at its heart the needs and rights of Consumers - the Commission are obliged to take this stance under the Lisbon Treaty;
  2. Due to the regular occurrence of illness on-board ships in EU waters, we have called for the introduction of an EU Vessel Sanitation program;
  3. As Crime has become a regular feature on cruise ships, we have called for the introduction of an EU Regulation introducing investigatory and reporting obligations;
  4. As more cruise companies offer 'family friendly' products, we call for the introduction of Regulation to protect children in a ships environment;
  5. As crew provide a valuable service to ships passengers, we call for equal treatment of those crew members throughout the EU which we see as providing an ultimate benefit to holidaymakers.

This is the report submitted by HolidayTravelWatch to the EU Commission - Comment on Ships Passenger Rights - The Blue Economy - 9.5.12

HolidayTravelWatch will respond to DG MOVE's Consultation and provide both departments with examples of Consumer detriment in July 2012.

Frank Brehany, the Consumer Director for HolidayTravelWatch states:

"Too many years have passed, too many opportunities missed, to introduce Regulation to protect the Consumer on cruise ships.  Having been to a recent Stakeholders meeting in Brussels on Ships Safety, it is clear that the Cruise Industry hold the dominant lobbying position.  It is time for a clear agenda and enquiry to be created by the EU Commission, for the benefit of all Stakeholder's, but particularly for the victims of illness or crime.  The goal of the Commission is to create a sustainable maritime industry, it is time they engaged with Consumers; we hope that this first report will be read, considered and acted upon!"