Sen. Jay Rockefeller Schedules 2nd Cruise Ship Safety Hearing

U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who introduced a cruise passenger protection bill last year in Congress has scheduled a second hearing on the bill before the Senate Commerce Committee on July 22 at 2:30 p.m.

Among the requirements of the proposed legislation? Highlights include:

  • Cruise lines would be required to summarize cruise contract terms and conditions in plain language rather than in the legal phrasing used today in lengthy documents.
  • The bill also would require a Web site to post statistics about onboard crime on cruise vessels
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation would set up and monitor a complaint hotline for cruise passengers.

No speakers have yet been announced for the hearing, although last year a mix of U.S. Coast Guard, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and cruise line executives spoke.

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Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the industry's trade association, also has developed a Web site -- www.cruiseforward.com -- which discusses cruise safety as well as environmental, community and operational topics.

In addition, cruise lines have been voluntarily displaying crime information on their Web sites for about a year.  And within the past two years, CLIA member lines have proactively adopted certain safety procedures that, at the time they were put in place, were more stringent than those required by international maritime law.

Sen. Rockefeller's bill remains "in committee" and has not as yet been brought to the Senate floor for a vote.