Cruise-ship security will be scrutinized in July at a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee called by committee chairman Jay Rockefeller, reports Gannett. The West Virginia Democrat has been a staunch critic of what he considers the industry’s poor record of documenting and reporting crime to the public. His bill, “The Cruise Passenger Protection Act,” would publicly disclose all alleged crimes on cruise ships, require cruise lines to place video cameras in public areas, and direct the Transportation Department to establish an advocate to provide assistance to victims on board ships.
The trade group representing the industry, the Cruise Lines International Association, describes serious crime aboard ships as “very rare.” The association says cruise ships promptly report allegations of serious crimes to law enforcement agencies. Under pressure from Rockefeller and others, several cruise lines began disclosing crime data on their web sites. Florida is home to the world’s three busiest cruise ports, Miami, Port Canaveral and Fort Lauderdale. The industry employs more than 130,000 people in the state and accounted for about $6.7 billion in total economic impact last year. Almost 6 million cruise passengers departed from Florida ports in 2012.