In conjunction with efforts by the International Cruise Victims Association (ICV), major legislation to improve safety on cruise ships was introduced today by Rep. Doris Matsui in the U.S. House of Representatives and Sen. John Kerry in the U.S. Senate.
Entitled The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009, the legislation will provide for transparency in reporting crimes, improving crime scene response, improving security training procedures and enforcing safety and environmental standards.
At a congressional hearing in March 2006, ICV first introduced a 10-point program to improve safety on cruise ships, with the goal of protecting both passengers and crewmembers. These recommendations are included in the new legislation.
Since December 2005, ICV members have participated in five Congressional hearings. Of the four House hearings, two were led by Congresswoman Matsui (D-CA). The Senate hearing, held in 2008, was chaired by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). ICV members have also met with cruise line officials on four separate occasions in an effort to bring about voluntary reform of safety procedures for U.S. passengers and crewmembers. Despite all these efforts, the cruise lines have failed to commit to any significant changes to improve safety, leaving legislation as the only alternative.
“What we have found through hearings is truly alarming,” says Congresswoman Matsui. “There is little to no regulation of the cruise industry, and far too many crimes go unprosecuted each year. When a Goliath like the cruise ship industry will not act in the best interest of the customers who are entrusting it with their personal well-being, then Congress has a responsibility to step in and shed some sunlight on the problem,” she adds.
Although based in the U.S., most cruise line corporations register in such foreign countries as Liberia and Panama. While spending millions of dollars to advertise cruise vacations specifically aimed at Americans, the cruise industry also spends millions lobbying against efforts to establish any reasonable safety regulation.
“Passenger safety should be the top priority for the cruise line industry,” says Sen. Kerry, “and it’s clear that they have work to do.”
Kendall Carver, President of ICV, agrees. “There is no reason that passengers on cruise ships should not have the same protection that they would at a comparably priced resort in the United States – because, let’s face it, that is the cruise lines’ competition.” He encourages all Americans to support the bill by contacting their congressional representatives.
The International Cruise Victims Association, Inc. (ICV) is a not-for-profit corporation formed by victims and families of victims of cruise crimes. For more information, please visit www.internationalcruisevictims.org