The cruise industry operates under the centuries old Law of the Sea.
If you've ever wondered why just about every ship in world is chartered as Panamanian or Liberian, it's because those two countries offer shipping companies "flags of convenience." That means the shipping companies are not required by Panamanian or Liberian law to have any safety standards or protections of any kind for passengers or cargo.
Reuters ran a story that detailed seven rights you sign away when you purchase a cruise ticket and it is amazing how you as a passenger agree to have your rights curtailed.
Whenever you cruise, I always recommend buying your own travel insurance policy from a third party company to make up for the protections you give up as a passenger. Never buy the company's own insurance policy because there's a conflict of interest there. A third party policy will provide more protections way beyond the cruise contract.
There have been some calls for a cruise passenger bill of rights. I think an industry code of conduct and bill of rights would be great ideas. The reality is that discounting to retain loyal customers will cost them more than if they had a uniform code of conduct.