Congressman Files Cruise Ship Crime Bill

Connecticut congressman Christopher Shays has introduced legislation that would require cruise ship owners to report any crime, passenger overboard or missing person incident to the Homeland Security Department no later than four hours after the ship's captain learns of the incident. Shays' said he was spurred by the disappearance of a Connecticut man on a honeymoon cruise last year. Royal Caribbean has been criticized sharply by the family of missing passenger George Smith for slowness in responding to the situation, but the line denied that it did anything wrong and said it was forthcoming with authorities. At the time, the ship was in Turkish waters and authorities from both that government and the FBI investigated, but found no wrongdoing by the company. The International Council of Cruise Lines, the industry's lobbying arm, said it is reviewing the proposed legislation; ICCL's stance has always been that the lines have an excellent safety record and that incidences of crime are far less at sea than within the general population. One question that's not yet known is whether legally foreign-flagged cruise lines, operating in foreign lands, would have to abide by such legislation, even if it passes Congress and is signed by the President. Most major cruise lines based in South Florida are flagged overseas. In addition, other countries may have jurisdiction during certain maritime incidents. Smith's family resides in Shay's Congressional district.