It has only been a few months since Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller introduced the Cruise Passenger Protection Act, which calls for cruise ship crime data to be available to the public, and some of the world’s major cruise lines have begun to cooperate, releasing their crime statistics. Among those are Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean. But is this legislation enough to protect passengers from harm?
The act may reveal the troubling circumstances onboard vessels, but it won’t necessarily prevent crimes from happening. It will certainly help travelers keep their eyes peeled for signs of danger, but the cruise industry has yet to really make a meaningful impact in its’ efforts to improve safety on the high seas and in port. This year alone, the cruise industry has faced a greater number of accidents and crimes than in past years. When Sen. Rockefeller launched the Cruise Passenger Protection Act, the industry had already faced three ship groundings, five fires, two collisions, and nineteen instances in which ships endured mechanical problems. And that was just in the first six months of the year.
Even worse, because cruise lines impose clauses in their passenger ticket contracts that limit their liability when something goes wrong – along with the fact that they register their ships in foreign countries to avoid U.S. legislations – cruise passengers face nothing short of an uphill battle when trying to file a lawsuit against a cruise line.
Taking note of the dire situation within the cruise industry, two congress people in California decided to take matters into their own hands. Fed up with the lack of rights bestowed to cruise passengers, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove CA), the Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, and Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) have introduced a bill designed to protect cruise travelers from harm and from being denied the compensation they deserve after suffering an injury or being the victim of a crime.
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