Last updated: 01:36 PM ET, Fri July 24 2015

Cruise Ship Safety Legislation Introduced in US House

Impacting Travel | Theresa Norton | July 24, 2015

Cruise Ship Safety Legislation Introduced in US House

Furthering efforts to increase oversight on cruise ships, three U.S. Representatives have introduced the Cruise Passenger Protection Act (CPPA) in the House.

The House sponsors of the bill are Democrats Doris Matsui of California and Jim Himes of Connecticut, and Ted Poe, a Republican from Texas. Similar legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate earlier this month by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.)

The legislation builds on the passenger safety measures put in place by the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA,) which became law in 2010, by strengthening the crime reporting and video surveillance requirements, and improving medical standards.

“This is a personal issue for me because it has profoundly affected my district and Connecticut,” Himes said. “In 2005, George Smith IV of Greenwich went missing while on his honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean Sea. Since George’s disappearance, his family has been fighting tirelessly to improve safety on cruise ships and to protect cruise ship passengers. The fight continues today with the Cruise Passenger Protection Act. This bill bolsters current law with tighter crime reporting, expanded video surveillance equipment and record-keeping requirements, and streamlined tracking and public reporting of alleged crimes on cruise ships. It is safety improvements like these that will help prevent more avoidable tragedies.”

Among the requirements of the CPPA are provisions that would require a cruise ship to notify the FBI within four hours of an alleged incident and, if it happened in a U.S. port, before the ship departs. If the incident occurred in a foreign port, the vessel owners must report an alleged offense to the U.S. Consulate in the next port of call, if the alleged offense is by or against a U.S. national.

The bill also requires video surveillance equipment in all passenger common areas as well as technology that can both capture images and detect when a passenger has gone overboard.

The bill also calls to transfer authority for maintaining an Internet website of alleged crimes on cruise ships from the Coast Guard to the Department of Transportation, and also would require that the website break out the crimes that are reported against minors and alleged man-overboard incidents.

The bill also would require a qualified physician and sufficient medical staff for passengers and mandates training for crew members in basic life support and automated defibrillators.

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