Cruise Ship Law, Maritime Matter of the Week

U.K. Judge Dismisses Early Wake-Up Call Cruise Lawsuit


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Looks like an angry passenger will not be needing the services of a maritime lawyer any longer. A judge in the U.K. has dismissed a controversial lawsuit filed against Thomson Cruises that the traveler filed over an early wake-up call on one of its vessels.

David Bookbinder, 71, of Derbyshire, England made headlines when he sued Thomason Cruises for a full refund on his Red Sea cruise aboard the Thomson Celebration. The incident stems from an early wake-up call that was set for 5 a.m. on the day the vessel called in Israel that the line says was necessary to clear immigration.

According to Bookbinder, the cruise ship’s crewmembers told passengers that the early wake-up call was necessary so they could be interviewed by Israeli immigration officials, but what he really believed was that the line merely woke passengers early so as to sell more shore excursions. Bookbinder argued that the immigration proceedings could have been carried out at a “more acceptable” time and being forced to wake up so early caused him so much stress that he claims it ruined his entire vacation.

“I’m happy to get out of bed at 3:30 a.m. if the ship is sinking, but not so excursions can be sold,” said Bookbinder.

A spokesperson for Thomson Cruises argued that the immigration process in Israel is customary and the wake-up call was nothing out of the ordinary. Ships visiting Israel are all required to perform the immigration checks and early wake-up calls are common.

Although Bookbinder put up a good fight, the judge did not agree with his claim that the wake-up call was unnecessary, nor that it caused such a high a level of stress that it ruined his entire cruise vacation. The judge was quoted by the Telegraph as saying that the early wake-up call “may have been inconvenient for … passengers, but it was not a breach of contract.”

Bookbinder was not ordered to pay Thomson Cruises’ court costs, as the judge ruled that it was not an unreasonably filed case. However, the suit also named Thomas Cook, a travel agency, and the judge ordered Bookbinder to pay half of the court costs incurred by the company. According to the judge, the case against the agency was built on “not so much very thin ice, but no ice at all.”

While this particular case may seem a bit out of the ordinary, cases filed against cruise line companies for negligence are not uncommon. Our maritime lawyers have tried over 1,000 cases involving incidents at sea or in port since 1971. If you believe you have a viable case, contact our law firm for a confidential consultation to determine your options and see if you qualify for compensation.

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