The US cruise industry is adopting a passenger bill of rights that guarantees the "safety, comfort and care" of guests.
The bill of rights promises, among other things, full refunds for trips cancelled due to mechanical failure, and a back-up power source on every ship to keep emergency systems running if the main generator fails.
The announcement on Wednesday by the Cruise Lines International Association, which represents 25 companies including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Holland America and Cunard, comes after the Carnival Triumph drifted for several days April without power as passengers endured filthy conditions.
Association president Christine Duffy said it was a response to calls by US Senator Charles Schumer that companies guarantee minimum standards and protection, including sanitary conditions, medical care, back-up power and refunds in the event of a power failure.
Asked to comment on the announcement, Schumer called the bill of rights "a step in the right direction towards increased accountability for the cruise industry and ensuring the safety and well-being of its passengers".
Duffy acknowledged that many of the steps outlined in the bill of rights are already standard practice for most major cruise lines, such as providing refunds for trips disrupted by mechanical failure and equipping ships with back-up power for emergency systems like lighting.
But she added that while "some of our members are already doing these things, a big part of the bill of rights is being consistent across the cruise industry, making these things transparent so that they do become part of the contractual agreement between the passenger and the cruise lines".
The association said the bill of rights would be effective immediately for US passengers who purchase their cruise in North America on its North American member cruise lines. The association also said it had submitted the bill of rights to the International Maritime Organisation, "requesting formal global recognition and applicability".