excerpt from Poutine on the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look at Travel

the excerpt

Tis the season to be cruising. It’s always a great way to spend a week or two especially in the Caribbean or other points south in the winter. But there is one aspect that frightens me the most.  I talk not about rough seas, picking up Norwalk or some other virus, or, even pigging out on the food and gaining weight, boarding the ship as a passenger, and disembarking as cargo. My biggest concern is having to agree to that Draconian one- sided cruise contract, which leaves any legal rights passengers may have, going out of the window, or rather the porthole. Before they let you onto the ship, you have to agree to the terms which looks something like this:

  1. Though we are an American company, we fly the flag of Malta. This means that you can sue us if any of your siblings speak Maltese. At our discretion, we can change flags in the middle of the cruise. Should you suffer injury, you have 30 minutes to guess what flag we are flying at the time.
  2. Failure to notify your stateroom attendant promptly of the nationality of the flag flying at the time disqualifies you from suing us, by virtue of Article 341(a) of the 1911 Rotterdam Convention and the amendments thereto. Full details of same are posted in the ship’s engine room. Unauthorized entry to the engine room is strictly prohibited and may result in our staff throwing you overboard.
  3. By taking this cruise you are waiving all claims against us other than claims for negligence. By clicking “Accept” you are accepting that we are never negligent.
  4. Any lawsuit started by you must be issued in a court of competent jurisdiction as determined by us, situated in the State of Florida. We have not yet determined that there is a court of competent jurisdiction in the State of Florida.
  5. Should you sue us, you can select trial by judge and jury, subject to clause 13.06(1). Clause 13.06(1) reads, “The cruise company, at its sole discretion, may select the composition of the members of the jury.”
  6. The carrier’s monetary liability will be limited in accordance with Article 43(3) (a) of the 1923 Athens Convention to the sum of 5,000 drachmas. Payment by the carrier for such amount may be made over a period of ninety-nine years.
  7. The carrier is only responsible for its own negligence, which does not include any acts of malfeasance by any of its crew, not limited to its captain, engineers, deckhands, chefs, servers, security officers, cleaners, medical staff, tour operators, or other persons who, in the event of an accident, utter the words, “Oops. Crew!”
  8. Our liability for lost luggage is in accordance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention, which allows our porters to hold all lost or missing luggage as prisoners as long as they do not interrogate your bags.
  9. The carrier may deviate from the listed cruise itinerary as is reasonable. Remaining in the port of origin for the duration of the cruise will be deemed to be a reasonable deviation.
  10. You will notice that the foregoing clauses are written in Latin. For a complete translation into English of this contract, please visit the engine room. But you know what that means.


If that is not enough, when you sign in online, they make you tick off a box saying, “I have read and understood the foregoing contract.”

And right after that there is another box that they make you tick off “yes,” which reads, “And you still want to cruise?”

Well that is not exactly what the contract says. But then again, I cannot tell you exactly what it says as I am not fluent in Latin.


Happy cruisin’.


End of excerpt

Poutine on the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look at Travel, is available in eBook and paper versions on Amazon, Apple books etc., and wherever books are sold.  Please click on books page  to check out links for some of these sources.