July 23, 2014

U.S. Senator holding afternoon hearing on cruise passenger protection

A hearing on protections for cruise passenger is scheduled for Wednesday evening in Washington, D.C.

The cruise industry will be in the spotlight again Wednesday afternoon during a hearing in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, is chairman of the committee and a longtime critic of the industry. He is continuing to push for the passage of measures included in legislation he proposed last year, the Cruise Passenger Protection Act.

The hearing will start at 2:45 p.m. in Washington, D.C. It will be streamed live at the Senate Commerce Committee’s homepage,

Since last month, Rockefeller has been trying to include some provisions from the act in the Coast Guard reauthorization bill.

They include:

• Modifying existing law to make sure crimes that occur on cruise ships are fully reported to the public and available on the Department of Transportation website.
• Requiring cruise lines to report crimes within 24 hours of the time a complaint is made, make log books available to the FBI and report a crime committed at port to the FBI before departing.
• Creating a consumer protection website at the DOT for cruise passengers.
• • Establishing a consumer protection advisory committee focusing on the cruise industry at the transportation department.
• Requiring a study of medical professionals on ships.

“This hearing – along with the other hearings and inquiries I have made into the cruise industry since I have been Chairman of this Committee – are about one thing, accountability,” Rockefeller said in a statement. “When it comes to the cruise industry, we have been doing our job, while the industry has not. We have held hearings, we have analyzed the data, and we have talked to many different people with experience in this industry. This oversight has led us very clearly to the conclusion that we have to act and pass legislation to better protect consumers. No other passengers should have to suffer when there are basic steps that can and should be taken to protect their safety and health.”

According to the chairman’s office, Rockefeller decided to hold Wednesday’s hearing after running into resistance on his efforts to include the provisions in the Coast Guard bill.

The hearing will feature four witnesses, including a woman who was on the Carnival Triumph when it was disabled by fire; a woman who reported that she was raped while on a Royal Caribbean International ship; a plaintiff’s attorney who is a board member of the International Cruise Victims Association and a woman whose mother died after becoming ill on a Carnival ship.

No cruise line representatives are included on the witness list.

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