The Problem

The wide and stretched coasts as well as the numerous islands surrounding the mainland of Greece, are among its main geographical characteristics, and thus creating a unique phenomenon in the entire E.U.
Therefore, the vital need of islanders to be able to be transported and communicate is met by a maritime transport network that links the islands with the mainland and the islands with each other.
The problem of the effective protection of the rights of passengers in the event of interruption, delay or cancellation involving journeys by sea or inland waterway concerns the various types of maritime transport but mostly national traffic including inland waterways traffic.

When a journey is suddenly interrupted for several hours or when a trip is suddenly cancelled, for whatever reasons, passengers find themselves in a stressful, unexpected and difficult situation. Often far from home, and usually confined within the limits of a port or a ship, they do not have the means, immediately and on the spot, to lessen the inconveniences caused by a situation for which they are not responsible and over which they have no influence.
Maritime passengers are often captive passengers, who depend on their trip by ship to access other means of transport.
There are currently no common rules or common practices on how to inform, assist, re-route or, in certain specific cases, possibly compensate ship passengers when they find themselves stranded due to a critical event. Some companies have decided to develop a policy on these issues to offer their passengers some rights when a critical event occurs, but the companies that have developed a policy on those issues have done so in very different ways and manners. The lack of common procedures isolates who have to cope with different procedures and deadlines, depending on the company, when they need to express their dissatisfaction.
About 400 passenger vessels of all kinds are regularly engaged in these lines and carry about 40 million passengers per year. The number of passengers using the maritime mode, is increasing due to the opening up of maritime transport markets, which led to a wide range of tourist destinations on offer, at lower prices. For these reasons, nowadays passengers as well as shipping companies need a common set of principles throughout domestic maritime transportation. These principles are relevant assistance and reimbursement in case of delay or cancellation, information and quality protection of disabled people and persons with reduced mobility.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
This initiative deals with the determination of the rights and obligations of the passenger travelling by sea. It establishes minimum rules on information for all maritime passengers before and during their journey and identifies the liability of carriers of passengers by sea in the events of delays, interruptions, or cancelations. By this way the passengers are able to express their dissatisfaction when they need to do so and assert their rights. Additionally, it has been provided to the passenger the ability to use extra – judicial mechanisms for solving disputes which offer significant advantages such as speed, transparency, reasonable cost and flexibility.
Furthermore, it establishes the general principle of prohibiting the refusal to carry persons with reduced mobility. This category of passengers is often prevented from travelling by boat due to a lack of accessibility of these services and the failure of shipping companies to offer the necessary assistance. Any discrimination on grounds of disability or reduced mobility with regard to booking a trip or boarding a ship is forbidden.
From all the above mentioned it is clear that the quality of services for sea transport passengers becomes significantly upgraded.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The solution was designed, proposed and implemented by the Directorate of sea transport of the Greek ministry of economy competitiveness and maritime. The stakeholders of this initiative are all the passengers using domestic maritime transport.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The Directorate of Maritime Transport of the Greek Ministry of Economy Competitiveness and Maritime in order for the rights of domestic maritime passengers to be established and improve the attractiveness and confidence of the passengers in maritime transport, deals with the problems of the protection of the rights of passengers when traveling by sea.
The Directorate of Maritime transport took into account the view of local island authorities, representatives of social groups and professionals as well as representatives of ship companies. The result of this consultation was the gathering and codification of the rights of domestic maritime passengers, which incorporated into national legislation.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
Since this initiative was incorporated into national legislation in October 2008 and taking into account the large Greek population traveling by ship, the Greek Ministry of Economy Competitiveness and Maritime gave wide publicity, through the media about maritime passenger rights and handling out leaflets to passengers in ports all around the country, to be informed of their rights.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
During the design and the implementation of this initiative no particular obstacles encountered.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The personnel of the Directorate of Maritime transport of the Greek Ministry of Economy Competitiveness and Maritime, designed and implemented the initiative without using financial or any technical means.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The Commission of the European Communities has started a consultation about passenger rights within the European Union. This initiative could serve as a useful tool for the rights of sea transport European passengers in such a debate.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
This initiative provides a framework in which all the obligations and the rights of both maritime passengers and carriers of passengers by sea have been defined and the passengers are informed for their rights before and during the implementation of travel. By this way the passengers are able to express their dissatisfaction when they need to do so and assert their rights. This initiative covered a legislative gap that existed for years and upgraded the services provided to the passengers by the shipping companies.

Contact Information

Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Telephone/ Fax:  
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Postal Code:   18410
Country:   Greece

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