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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: August 2013

4 - Rules in complex contracts



Carnival Cruise Lines, a private cruise company based in Florida, beckons customers to sail its Vegas-style, activity-packed “fun ships” by asking “Didja ever have so much fun . . . you will on a Carnival cruise, where you’ll be wowed with one new adventure after another, both on board and in port” (Carnival, n.d.). Thousands of Carnival passengers on board the “fun ship” Splendor did not have so much fun in November 2010 when a fire in the engine room stranded the ship off Mexico’s Pacific coast for days without adequate food and water. “The first day or two like when we were in a complete blackout and there was no power at all, you know, we were just kind of floating out in the ocean with absolutely nothing,” reported Gordon Gilbreath, a Splendor passenger for that voyage. “It’s been quite an ordeal, I have to tell you” (Netter, 2010). The ordeal came to a safe conclusion when the US Coast Guard arrived on the scene. The lead Coast Guard vessel, a 378-foot-long high endurance cutter named the Morgenthau oversaw the Splendor’s rescue as two tug boats pulled the cruise ship to San Diego, California while helicopters supplied it with food and other necessities. With the Coast Guard’s protection, Gilbreath and his fellow passengers could breathe a sigh of relief: “Now people are doing a lot better.”