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Cruise ship law

Practical and legal tips for safe cruising

Victoria M. Dalton, Esq.  Jun 20, 2010

Summer is here, full of travel and memorable moments. To ensure smooth sailing this summer, consider the practical and the legal before embarking on a cruise.


First, it is important to note that just because you board a ship in a United States port, it does not mean you are protected under the United States legal system.

Often ships are registered in other countries and, once out at sea, U.S. laws may not apply.

In an effort to minimize crime and increase your traveling pleasure; here are some helpful tips, according to

• Make sure your luggage has a lock on it, as this will deter theft.

• Inventory your luggage and create a list of the contents. You may even want to take photos as an added precaution.

• Use common sense when entering your cabin. Other crew members have keys to your cabin so it is important to check to make sure it is empty when you enter and use the safety box inside for valuables.

• Stay in a group or well-lighted areas while aboard your ship. Strongly monitor your teens and their whereabouts.

Safety and security are the goals for all Americans as cruise ship passengers. Presently, we are waiting for the President's signature on a bill which passed on June 11, 2010, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.

Federal Legislation

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act was passed with bipartisan support with Congresswoman Doris Matsui representing the 5th congressional District in California and Sen. John F. Kerry from Massachusetts in the United States Senate.

The legislation would require the cruise industry to increase rail heights to 42 inches, increase cabin security with peep holes on all doors and have a sophisticated video surveillance system.

The video surveillance program would detail crimes committed aboard the ship, making prosecuting and documenting a crime much easier.

The bill would also mandate cruise personnel to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Coast Guard in the event of a serious crime.

Serious crimes would include homicide, suspicious deaths, kidnapping, missing nationals and assault.

Further, rape kits and a sexual assault forensic expert would be on board each ship. The Secretary of Transportation, along with the FBI, will also establish a program to train all crew members in detection, prevention, reporting and preserving evidence on all cruise ships.

So, if you are planning a family cruise, request a copy in writing of how the cruise ship handles problems such as lost luggage through criminal acts. Remember, a safe vacation is a fun vacation!

Practical and  legal tips for safe cruising
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