U.S. Aims to Expose Cruise Crime

By MarEx 2014-12-07 18:51:00

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a Coast Guard reauthorization bill that transfers the responsibility for maintaining the cruise vessel crime data website from the Coast Guard to the Department of Transportation and requires a number of changes to ensure the website is user-friendly and includes all important data.  

Specifically, it requires the website to be updated quarterly and sorted by cruise line. The website will be required to identify each cruise line by name, identify each crime committed or allegedly committed by a passenger or crewmember regardless of the status of the investigation, and identify the number of individuals alleged overboard.

“This is an important victory for cruise safety advocates and for the millions of Americans who have taken a cruise or are considering one in the future. While cruise ships are billed as safe, family-friendly vacations, the reality is that crime happens onboard these ships just as it does anyplace else,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “Today’s passage of this key provision from the Cruise Passenger Protection Act will ensure that anyone considering a cruise can easily view a more accurate number of crimes that occurred on each cruise line, and the nature of the crime. This is a huge step forward toward transparency and ensuring the safety of cruise passengers.”

Congresswoman Matsui is a long-time advocate for improving safety and security aboard cruise vessels. She authored the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA), bipartisan legislation that was signed into law in 2010, requiring the cruise industry to comply with a number of security and crime reporting provisions. Last year, she introduced the CPPA, legislation which would build on the passenger safety measures put in place by the CVSSA by clarifying and strengthening the crime reporting and video surveillance requirements.  

In addition to requiring the website improvements passed, this legislation bolsters FBI notification requirements when an alleged incident occurs, and strengthens video surveillance requirements to ensure maximum protection for passengers and victims, while taking steps to avoid privacy concerns.

Kendall Carver, founder of the International Cruise Victims Association, said the legislation will lay the violent truth bare. Carver has fought to regulate the cruise industry since his daughter vanished during an Alaskan cruise in 2004. 

Azcentral reports that the Cruise Lines International Association, said that the legislation isn't needed. “The provision is unnecessary,” CLIA public-affairs director Elinore Boeke is quoted as saying in an e-mail. “It largely duplicates information already available to the public, which shows that crime is rare on cruise ships and a fraction of corresponding crime rates on land.”

The association has resisted the legislation claiming the cruise industry is already heavily regulated. Azcentral reports CLIA officials saying in response to proposed legislation last year: “"Adding a new layer of federal regulation and bureaucracy at the expense of taxpayers, cruise lines and cruise passengers is both unjustified and unnecessary. It also unfairly singles out the cruise industry for punitive treatment that would not apply to competitors, and with no basis for doing so.”

The legislation now goes before the U.S. senate and is expected to pass.