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Not another ‘Scary Cruise’ law? Sen. Kerry reintroduces cruise legislation

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 13 - 2009

It’s only been a few days after the arrest of a Princess Cruises headwaiter for an alleged sexual assault and the politicians have seized the opportunity to legislate.
Rep. Doris Matsui of California and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts have reintroduced the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009– both introduced a similar bill in June last year.

The politicos’ legislation is asking to “keep Americans aware and protected while on cruise vacations”, calling for guard rails 54 inches in height, peep holes on stateroom and crew cabin doors, formalization of the crime reporting the industry already voluntarily provides to the FBI and US-certified crime scene investigation training. It even includes an anti-piracy provision, calling for a sound warning system so vessels can communicate within a security zone, and it addresses the enforcement of environmental standards, requiring the US Coast Guard to verify logbook entries related to waste treatment and disposal. Further, it establishes “fair and equal remedies for persons injured in boating disasters.”

Both Rep. Matsui and Sen. Kerry have constituents who allegedly were victims of crimes at sea and both have been the driving forces behind Congressional hearings on cruise ship safety.

“For far too long, American families have unknowingly been at risk when they have embarked on what should have been relaxing sea voyages,” Matsui said. She added that there has not been a conviction of a cruise ship rape accusation in recent history. “This legislation would increase safety, keep passengers informed, and improve crime scene preservation efforts,” Matsui stated.

“All crimes, regardless of a cruise ship’s shifting international jurisdiction, must be reported, investigated or prosecuted,” Kerry said. He added, “We owe it to law-abiding citizens like Ken Carver who have lost loved ones on these ships to hold the industry’s feet to the fire and make sure this never happens again.”

Carver’s daughter went missing from a Celebrity cruise to Alaska several years ago. No evidence of criminal activity in that incident has ever been disclosed. Carver is president of the International Cruise Victims Association which provided recommendations that were incorporated into the legislation.

Matsui’s constituent, Laurie Dishman, alleges she was sexually assaulted on a Royal Caribbean ship. The FBI declined to prosecute.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said in a statement that “the safety and security of passengers is the top priority of its members, adding that serious crime aboard cruise ships is very rare. We have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to crime and have comprehensive policies and procedures in place to ensure that passengers are safe while enjoying their cruise vacation.”

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