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.