Safety Accountability On Cruise Ships | My Family Travels

A historic bill designed to ensure accountability by the cruise lines for safety matters aboard their vessels becomes law in the United States.

A new bill that will help tighten security and safety requirements on cruise ships was unanimously approved by the House and Senate, and signed by President Obama on July 27, 2010.  

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act details new mandates for peepholes in all cabins, security latches on cabin doors, onboard video surveillance systems, a minimum height requirement of 42” for railings, and medical personnel who meet guidelines established by the American College of Emergency Physicians. The bill also requires that crimes committed on cruise ships, even in foreign waters, be reported immediately to the FBI, as well as on a website operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Rep. Doris Matsui, who introduced the bill, was present at the White House for the signing ceremony and said with pride, “The President’s signature on this legislation is a significant milestone for American consumers and the traveling public.”

Matsui was prompted to advocate for safety on cruises when Laurie Dishman, a Sacramento resident, wrote to Matsui after she was sexually assaulted on a cruise ship. Following the correspondence of the two women, Matsui took immediate action, instigating a series of congressional hearings that brought light to the issues of crimes occurring on cruise ships. The women continued to work together throughout the process, and Dishman was also in attendance at the White House for the signing of the bill.

“This has been a long, difficult road for all cruise victims and their families, and this legislation is truly a result of their courage, their dedication and their conviction to preventing further crimes from happing,” said Matsui. “ This legislation is critical to providing the security and safety measures that all Americans need and deserve, no matter if they are on land or at sea.”

An earlier draft of the bill was revised last year by CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), victims-rights groups, and lawmakers in order for its requirements and mandates to be effective in keeping passengers safe. Former CLIA CEO Terry Dale stated, “Although millions of guests each year enjoy a safe cruise vacation, we welcome the opportunity to ensure consistency across our member line fleets.”

Another diehard supporter and proponent of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act is Sen. John Kerry, who also corresponded with a cruise crime victim before deciding to help in the cause. Sen. Kerry was contacted by Kendall Carver, Chairman of ICV, to assist in addressing the cover-up of his daughter’s disappearance while on a cruise.

With the combined efforts of Sen. Kerry and Matsui, numerous hearings were organized in the senate, which ultimately created a greater awareness of the problem, and succeeded in helping the bill pass.

With all these new safety measures, families will be more excited than ever to sail around the world aboard a cruise ship.

For information on taking your kids on a cruise, read FTF’s article Cruises With Kids Today or visit the CLIA website.

This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.