If the main purpose of a ferry journey is recreation and holiday on board, it is a travel package. The law contains statutes on travel packages, and the consumers’ position in package travel is more secure than in individual travel services. The Consumer Ombudsman required Tallink Silja to confirm that regarding, for example, the ‘Day in Stockholm’- and the 22-hour Tallinn cruises, the regulation on travel packages is followed by the company.
According to observations made by the Consumer Ombudsman, Tallink Silja sold, for example, “Day in Stockholm” cruises online without taking the responsibility which the Act on Travel Services Combinations requires. In addition, during the booking process Tallink Silja did not provide the traveller with the standard information form that discloses, for example, whether the product in question is a travel package.
In a travel package, the traveller has protection from the moment of purchase until the end of the trip. For example, the traveller has extensive right of cancellation, the right to receive assistance from the travel organiser in problem situations and the extensive right to receive information. In addition, the travel organiser shall lodge a security in the event of its insolvency in order to secure payments made for the packages.
If the main purpose of a ferry journey is mainly recreation and holiday on board, and not to transport a traveller from one place to another, it can be considered as a travel package containing two independent travel services, carriage of passenger and accommodation. Instead, an overnight ferry journey with a cabin is not a package if its main purpose is a transport from one place to another and staying on board is a necessary part of the journey. In this case, accommodation is not seen as a separate, independent travel service.
‘In particular, holiday cruises to Stockholm and Tallinn are well-established in shape and therefore this issue is important for travellers’ rights. It must be clear to the traveller what type of travel service he or she is buying, and which regulations and rights are applicable to it’, says Consumer Ombudsman Katri Väänänen.
The Consumer Ombudsman required Tallink Silja to take into account in its activities that cruises whose main purpose is recreation and holiday on board, such as the ‘Day in Stockholm’ and the 22-hour Helsinki-Tallinn-Helsinki cruises, fulfil the definition of a travel package and the shipping company must take the corresponding responsibility for them and provide a standard information form before the package travel contract is concluded. Tallink Silja confirmed that they would proceed as required by the Consumer Ombudsman and that they would implement the necessary changes on their website.
Decision: Compatibility of package travel legislation with cruises (in Finnish)