Consumers Getting Incomplete Picture of Crime on Cruise Ships
Wednesday’s oversight hearing on cruise ship safety by the Senate Commerce Committee has brought attention to crimes that normally go unreported to the public.
The hearing was held in response to two recent cruise ship fires and provided West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller an outlet to voice concerns about misconceptions the public may have in regards to cruise ship safety. He also introduced the Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2013.
Details Concerning Crime Aboard Cruise Ships
“According to our investigation, it doesn’t appear to me that passengers are substantially safer.” – Sen. Jay Rockefeller and published by CNN.
- In 2007, it was decided that cruise ships must report major incidents (suspicious death, theft over $10,000, kidnapping, sexual assault, etc.) to the FBI for investigation.
- In 2010, Congress ordered that the Coast Guard create and maintain a web-based record of alleged crimes no longer under investigation.
- The concern is that investigations can take some time, and so records shown to the public via the site create an incomplete picture misrepresenting passenger safety.
- Out of 959 crimes reported to the FBI since 2011, only 31 are listed on the U.S. Coast Guard's webpage. The remaining 928 are still considered “under investigation.”
- Further concern has come from the fact that there are no independent emergency services aboard cruise ships. In the event of an incident, passengers are to report to officials who are directly employed by the cruise ship.
Solutions Proposed in Cruise Passenger Protection Act
As described on Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s website.
- Consumers must be given a clearly worded summary of the terms and conditions associated with the ticket contract before purchase.
- The Department of Transportation would become the lead federal agency for consumer protection, similar to the aviation industry.
- The Department of Transportation would create a toll-free hotline for consumer complaints and concerns.
- Reports of all alleged crimes that take place aboard cruise ships would become publicly available.
- A victim advocate would be made available to victims of crimes that occur aboard cruise ships, providing the victim insight and access to the appropriate law enforcement entities.
- A similar act has been proposed by Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Doris Matsui (D-CA).
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