Cruise crime bill signed into law

By: Johanna Jainchill

President Barack Obama signed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act on Tuesday, enacting legislation that will require the cruise industry to be more transparent in reporting cruise ship crime and comply with new cabin security and surveillance measures.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), who joined Obama at the White House for a signing ceremony.

“The President’s signature on this legislation is a significant milestone for American consumers and the traveling public,” said Matsui in a statement. “H.R. 3360 will improve the safety and security of all cruise ship passengers traveling in and out of U.S. waters, and provide common-sense security measures to prevent crimes from occurring — and protections and support for victims and their families if and when they do.”

Also in attendance was Laurie Dishman, a Sacramento resident who wrote to Matsui after she was sexually assaulted on a cruise ship, prompting Matsui to advocate for a cruise crime bill.

The bill mandates a minimum height for railing as well as peepholes and security latches on cabin doors.

The law also requires cruise lines to report crimes on a website operated by the U.S. Coast Guard. Ship personnel are required to contact the FBI to report incidents involving homicide, assaults or missing U.S. nationals as soon as they occur, even in international waters.

CLIA backed this version of the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2009, after working with victims-rights groups and lawmakers last year to revise the original bill.

CLIA CEO Terry Dale said, “Although millions of guests each year enjoy a safe cruise vacation, we welcome the opportunity to ensure consistency across our member line fleets.”

CLIA said that many ships may already have 42-inch railings, peepholes in all cabins, onboard video surveillance systems and medical personnel who meet guidelines established by the American College of Emergency Physicians. The organization added that the new law would “make these and other new provisions consistent across the fleet.”

The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously and was sent to the President for his signature earlier this month.

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