Cruise Ship Safety Resolution
September 17, 2007 —Chances are you know someone who is planning a vacation on a cruise line this year. In 2007, over 12 million Americans will travel on cruise lines. Unfortunately, few of these vacationing “cruisers” fully appreciate their potential vulnerability to crime while on an ocean voyage. Citizens who are victimized often do not know their legal rights or who to contact for help in the immediate aftermath of the crime.
In recent years, the media has reported a number of high profile cases of passengers falling overboard, passengers gone missing and passengers being raped and sexually assaulted. Sadly, many of these cases remain unresolved. Worse yet is many cases go unreported because there is no industry reporting mechanism.
Congress has been holding hearings on this important issue during this session. Most recently the Coast Guard and Maritime Subcommittee received testimony from the President of the International Cruise Victims Association, Kendall Carver, and Ms. Laurie Dishman during a March 27, 2007 hearing about the many problems they experienced as relatives and victims of crime on cruise ships.
The resolution acknowledges:
- The lack of federal regulation overseeing crime reporting by the cruise industry;
- The absence of law enforcement officials on ocean voyages;
- That without a law enforcement official, cruise officials are essentially responsible for collection and preserving a crime scene;
- Most cruise ships are registered under the laws of another country;
- Perpetrators of sexual violence and other violent crimes on cruise ships are rarely brought to justice;
- Consumers who book a cruise generally do not receive information at the point of sale about their legal rights as a cruise passenger and who to contact for help in the event a crime occurs during their voyage.
And resolves that:
- Americans who are victims of crime on a cruise ship should have access to justice and necessary steps should be taken to ensure that the perpetrators of such crimes are brought to justice;
- The cruise industry should provide comprehensive information to passengers about security risks and maintain necessary security personnel on each ship; and
- Congress should provide oversight to ensure the safety and security of American passengers.
For more information on Help for American Victims of Crime Overseas, contact the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.