The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act
Origins of the Act
In July 2010, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act was enacted in order to bring about a uniform standard of rules and regulations to the cruise industry. The push for this legislation came about due to the public’s opinion that cruise lines were not handling serious incidents properly and that these types of incidents were underreported. The Act applies to any cruise ship sailing to or from the United States based ports.
Rules and Regulations of Cruise Ships under the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act
1. Crime Reporting
This 2010 Act addresses a multitude of safety concerns. Under the Act, cruise ship personnel are required to report any serious crime that occurs while in U.S. water or during the use of U.S. ports. Serious crimes that must be reported include theft over a sum of $10,000, kidnapping, sexual assault, and homicide. Cruise ship personnel must report these crimes to the F.B.I. via telephone and also to the U.S. Coast Guard in writing and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security by electronic means.
2. Safety Precautions
The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act includes regulations for preventative safety measures. Under the Act, it is required that deck railings must be at least 42 inches high. Each ship must also have warning devices to use to communicate with the vessel in the event of an emergency.
Under the Act, it is now a requirement for cruise ships to provide pamphlets with general safety instructions for passengers as they come aboard the ship. These pamphlets must also provide information and steps necessary for the passenger to report a crime if one occurs. It is also required that all staterooms on the vessel must have peepholes in their doors.
3. Measures to Help Minimize the Effects of an Onboard Emergency
The Act requires certain steps to be taken in order to reduce the effects of an emergency occurring onboard a ship. One of these measures is the requirement that every ship must have cameras with the ability to detect whether a passenger has gone overboard the ship. This can help notify ship personnel and allow them to address the problem immediately, which would aid in saving lives.
Ships are also required to carry rape kits and various medications to treat STDs. The vessels must also employ staff trained in the area of sexual assaults to provide treatment to a victim on board. Passengers must also be given access to 24-hour sexual assault hotlines, and it must be free and confidential.
4. Notifications to Passengers and Potential Passengers
In accordance with the Act, ships are now required to provide passengers and potential passengers with a list of incidents reported for the cruise line as a whole. These lists are made available on the cruise lines’ websites. This sections of these websites also provide statistics of the incidents occurring on land, for the sake of comparison.
The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act contains a number of regulations to ensure passenger safety. The Act is comprehensive, covering not only regulations in connection with crimes and incidents on board ships, but also including preventative safety requirements for the benefit of all ship passengers and staff.