Over the last 20 years there has been a growing debate about crime and safety on cruise ships. Most of the time you will never know a crime has been committed and most people who go on cruises will not fall prey to cruise ship crimes. But for too long the laws regulating cruise ship crimes have been lax and nebulous, and victims and family members of victims have been gathering support for more legal intervention on cruises for US citizens.
The problem has always been that cruise ships sail through international waters and this is out of the United States’ jurisdiction. But thanks to a new law that has been passed by the Senate and House and signed by President Obama, US citizens are more protected in cruise ships than ever before.
The name of the new bill is the “Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act”, and even though it was signed in 2010, it will not go fully into effect until 2012.
So what changes will be made?
The bill requires that every cruise ship that leaves from a United States Port has the following:
- 42 inch railings all around the ship on every deck
- Peepholes in all cabin doors
- Security latches on all cabin doors
- Video surveillance all over the ship
- Security training of cruise ship personnel
- Medical personnel who meet guidelines established by the American College of Emergency Physicians
- Crimes must be reported to the US Coast Guard
- The FBI must be contacted in events of homicide, assaults, or missing persons
So what ships will be required to abide by the law’s regulations?
Any ship that carries more than 250 passengers, leaves from a US port, and offers overnight accommodations. In 2012, any ships that have failed to meet all the requirements of the new safety laws will not be allowed to enter the United States.
In addition to adding these laws to the US side of things, the US is now taking these issues to the International Maritime Organization in London to further ensure the safety of all cruise passengers.
Since this law has passed many other countries like Great Britain, Philippines and Australia have incorporated similar safety features and practices into their legislation as well.
For too long cruise lines would just overlook crimes on their cruise ships and leave the victims to fend for themselves. But now with this added accountability, cruise lines are actually embracing the new changes, and most already have the stated requirements. This law was long over-due, but the cruise lines have realized that if they cannot ensure the safety of their passengers it will start to hurt their bottom line in the future.