Ferry passengers are expected to be given the right to claim compensation if their journey is delayed or cancelled.
The European Parliament has voted in favour of giving sea passengers similar rights to airline customers, who can claim compensation if a European flight is disrupted.
The new rules are likely to come into force within two years.
Currently, ferry passengers can claim a refund or book a seat on the next available crossing if things go wrong.
If the new rules are adopted, they will be entitled to a refund if the journey is delayed more than 90 minutes or cancelled; food and accommodation of up to three nights if stranded; and compensation of up to 50% of the ticket price.
Disabled people will have right to free assistance and compensation for loss or damage of mobility equipment.