The Cruise Line Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009 passed the House on Wednesday evening; the Senate has already unanimously approved the bill. The approved legislation is a significant victory for cruise passengers’ rights.
The bill requires the cruise industry to comply with a number of security provisions that mandate ship rail heights, peep holes in cabin doors and video surveillance systems. Crews are required to record alleged crimes and report all serious crimes to the Coast Guard and FBI.
Other provisions require each ship to have supplies to treat sexual assault victims, including equipment and materials for performing a sexual assault medical exam and collecting forensic evidence, and medications to prevent sexually transmitted diseases after an assault.
“Adoption of this bill would be proof to the world that our small group of volunteers with limited funds has been able to make a difference in the safety of Americans,” said Ken Carver, chairman of the International Cruise Victims Association. The organization, comprised of cruise ship victims and their loved ones, has lobbied for protections from crimes at sea since March 2006.
Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., sponsored the legislation in the House, and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., led the effort in the Senate.