Thursday, November 19, 2009

Safety Aboard Cruise Ships

We have been following the work of International Cruise Victims and recently had the pleasure of meeting Laurie Dishman and Caitlin Burke with ICV to learn more about the organization and their work. To say we were impressed is an understatement. These ladies are passionate, driven and down right spunky so we were not at all suprised to learn that some of their hard work is paying off in a big way. This week the Matsui Cruise Safety Bill passed in the House of Representatives. Congratulations! This is a huge.

You can read the full press release below. To learn more about safety on cruise ships or to get involved with the ICV visit-

Another great day for ICV and future victims of crimes on Cruise ships
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
(202) 225-7163
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PASSES MATSUI CRUISE SAFETY BILLStand-Alone Legislation Will Protect Americans Aboard Cruise Ships

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congresswoman Doris O. Matsui (D-CA) joined with hercolleagues in the House of Representatives to pass H.R. 3360, the CruiseVessel Security and Safety Act of 2009 by a bipartisan vote of 416-4.Introduced by Representative Matsui earlier this year, the legislation is acritical and common-sense fix which will provide safety and security toAmericans who go on cruise vacations without realizing they are notprotected under U.S. laws when they leave its territorial waters.

"Unfortunately, the status quo has allowed cruise ships to operate underforeign flags of convenience - but leaving our territorial waters does notmean that cruise ships should be allowed to operate without basic laws thatprotect American citizens," Matsui said today on the House floor duringconsideration of her legislation. "Over the past several years, I have metwith far too many victims and their families who have experienced tragedy onthe high seas, only to be left to fend for themselves. It has becomeincreasingly apparent that this landmark legislation is both urgent andnecessary."

Rep. Matsui was contacted regarding the need for increased protections forAmericans on cruise ships in 2006, when her constituent, Laurie Dishman,wrote to her for help. Ms. Dishman was the victim of a sexual assault whileon a cruise vacation, and was given no assistance by the cruise line inproperly securing evidence of the assault, identifying her attacker, orprosecuting the crime once back on shore. Devastated, she reached out toCongresswoman Matsui for help. Matsui immediately began working on thislegislation and held multiple hearings with the support of Transportationand Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Chairman ofthe Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Elijah Cummings(D-MD), to bring the reality of what was happening on these ships to light."

Unfortunately, incidences of sexual attacks, missing persons and otherserious crimes have continued to be reported on board cruise ships in recentyears, despite increased media and Congressional attention on this issue,"stated Matsui. "The passage of my Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Actwill not only help recent victims of cruise crimes and offer them enhancedprotection, but will help from preventing further crimes from happening. Wecannot sit back and witness these violent and reprehensible acts tocontinue."

Matsui's legislation will require the cruise industry to comply with anumber of security provisions including specific rail heights, peep holes,warning devices, and cabin security measures. Additionally, the billnecessitates that vessels are equipped with a video surveillance system toassist in documenting and prosecuting crimes, and requires vessels tomaintain a log book to record reports on specified complaints. Finally, thelaw will mandate cruise vessel personnel to contact both the Federal Bureauof Investigations (FBI) and the United States Coast Guard as soon as a crimeinvolving homicide, suspicious deaths, missing U.S. nationals, kidnapping,assault, and other serious occurrences are reported.

Passage of this legislation is in addition to the inclusion of the CruiseVessel Security and Safety Act of 2009 in the Coast Guard ReauthorizationAct f 2010 recently passed by the House of Representatives. CongresswomanMatsui and her colleagues are hopeful that the Senate will soon take upconsideration of companion legislation introduced by Senator John Kerry(D-MA) that was passed unanimously by the Senate Commerce, Science andTransportation Committee this summer, and be sent to the President as soon as possible.
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C said...

I recently lost a very special person in my life in a cruise "accident?" and have found it difficult to obtain accurate information as to what did or might have happened.

I am thankful to the individuals and Senators and anyone involved who have worked so hard to pass laws like this. I look forward to the day that I can trust and feel comfortable cruising again.

Thank you, and please keep up the excellent work protecting all of us who have enjoyed cruising in the past.

casandra said...

i was raped while on a cruise ship, and never reported it because i was unaware of the procedures and of my rights.

thank you to everyone that creates laws like this, to help survivors like me.