The Cruise Safety Bill was passed by the United States Senate last Friday and the new legislation requires tighter security and transparency on cruise ships. The Congressional investigation that went along with the deliberations related to this bill were not kind to the cruise industry, and subsequent civil trials have revealed the statistics that the cruise industry is willing to acknowledge may be far less than in reality.
After a civil lawsuit in 2006, Royal Caribbean was forced to turn over internal documents that showed that these numbers were actually much higher, with 273 sexual assaults from 2003 to 2006. Several other passengers have also been reported missing since then.
The Greenwich-Post posted an article detailing some of the stories of those who were victims of crimes aboard cruise ships and the new legislation hopes to make getting justice for the victims a far easier task than it has been in the past. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law before July 5th, a move that is welcomed by many. Meanwhile, the cruise industry has been against the bill.
In March, Business Week reported that the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) spent almost $400,000 in federal lobbying in the fourth quarter, and a total of $2.9 million from January 2004 to July 2005. This total is in addition to lobbying money spent by individual cruise lines. Dr. Ross Klein, an industry analyst who is affiliated with Memorial University in Newfoundland, reported that Royal Caribbean alone spent nearly $3 million for lobbyists in the past three years.
The bill would require crimes on cruise ships to be reported to the Coast Guard as well as requires ship safety improvements such as 42-inch guardrails, peep holes in every passenger and crew member’s door, on-deck video surveillance, and an emergency sound system; and improvements to crime scene response by requiring “rape kits, anti-retroviral medications, and a trained forensic sexual assault specialist be aboard each ship.”
The cruise industry was against the bill because, among other reasons, it forced the industry to spend money to upgrade all it's ships to meet the standards as well as acknowledge there was a problem. The CLIA has since dropped its opposition to the bill and had this to say about it, "“The safety and security of our guests and crew is CLIA’s number one priority. The cruise industry has reported allegations of serious crimes to federal law enforcement agencies for many years and looks forward to continuing our longstanding work with the U.S. Coast Guard, FBI and law enforcement both here and elsewhere around the world”.