A new U.S. bill aimed at increasing safety on cruise ships is set to become law. The Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act will require cruise lines to install peepholes on cabin doors, ensure rails are no lower than 42 inches and provide passengers with information on how to report crimes. The law means business: non-compliance can result in denial of entry into U.S. ports, civil penalties up to $50,000 per violation and criminal penalties up to $250,000 and/or one year’s imprisonment.
The bill, introduced by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), requires safety measures for Americans at sea and provides protections for those sexually assaulted on board. All cruise ships will be required to install the 42-inch guard rails and peepholes in every passenger and crew member’s door, in addition to security latch door and smart keys, on-deck video surveillance and an emergency sound system on the ship. Passengers and crew must also be provided with a list of all U.S. embassies and consulates in the countries they visit.
For treating and examining persons alleging sexual assault, the act requies cruise ships to have on board medications to prevent sexually transmitted diseases; equipment and materials for performing post-assault examinations; and doctors and/or registered nurses with appropriate experience/certification in emergency medicine.
In additon, cruise ship companies must provide transparency in reporting by establishing a structure between the cruise industry, the FBI, and the Coast Guard, including requirements that each ship maintain a log book, which would record all deaths, missing individuals, alleged crimes, and passenger/crewmember complaints regarding theft, sexual harassment and assault. In addition, there will be a need to establish a program designed by the Secretary of Transportation in consultation with the FBI to train appropriate crew members in crime prevention, detection, evidence preservation, and reporting of criminal activities in the international maritime environment.
The bill was presented to President Obama for signage on July 19.