U.S. Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX) and Jim Himes (D-CT), members of the Congressional Victim’s Rights Caucus, have introduced bipartisan legislation to increase the safety of cruise ship passengers.
The Cruise Passenger Protection Act (CPPA) would build on the passenger safety measures put in place by the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which was signed into law in 2010, say the group in a statement published on Wednesday. It is intended to clarify and strengthen the crime reporting requirements and the video surveillance requirements and to improve medical standards.
“The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act was signed into law by President Obama in 2010, and was a critical first step in putting protections into place for the thousands of Americans who unknowingly put themselves at risk when they go on a cruise,” said Matsui.
“The Cruise Passenger Protection Act, which I am pleased to introduce today with my colleagues Representatives Ted Poe and Jim Himes, will continue to build upon the security and safety measures aboard our cruise ships and ensure that consumers have access to accurate information and victims are given the support and resources they deserve. I am grateful to the survivors and the victims’ families, who by sharing their stories, have brought national attention and Congressional action to this important consumer safety issue.”
“This is a personal issue for me because it has profoundly affected my district and Connecticut,” said Himes. “In 2005, George Smith IV of Greenwich went missing while on his honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean Sea. Since George’s disappearance, his family has been fighting tirelessly to improve safety on cruise ships and to protect cruise ship passengers.”
Specifically, the CPPA would:
• Ensure a cruise vessel owner notifies the FBI within four hours of an alleged incident.
• Ensure that if an alleged incident occurs while the vessel is still in a U.S. port, the FBI must be notified before that vessel leaves the port.
• Require vessel owners to also report an alleged offense to the U.S. Consulate in the next port of call, if the alleged offense is by or against a U.S. national.
• Clarify that vessels must have video surveillance equipment in all passenger common areas, and other areas, where there is no expectation of privacy.
• Allow individuals access to video surveillance records for civil action purposes.
• Mandate that all video records are kept for 30 days after completion of the voyage.
• Direct the Coast Guard to promulgate final standards within one year detailing requirements for the retention of video surveillance records.
• Transfer authority for maintaining the internet website of alleged crimes on cruise ships from the Coast Guard to the Department of Transportation.
• Require that the website breakout the crimes that are reported against minors and alleged “man overboard” incidents.
• Direct the Department of Transportation to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of having an individual on board each passenger vessel to provide victim support services
• Require integration of technology that can both capture images and detect when a passenger has fallen overboard.
• Ensure medical standards that would require a qualified physician and sufficient medical staff to be present and available for passengers, crew member basic life support training, accessible automated defibrillators, and that the safety briefing includes important emergency medical and safety information.
• Ensure that should a U.S. passenger die aboard a vessel his or her next of kin could request the vessel to return the deceased back to the United States.
Similar legislation authored by Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey has been introduced in the Senate.