According to the International Cruise Victims Association (ICV), the House has passed today Cruise Line Safety Act of 2009 authored by Congresswoman Doris O. Matsui (D-CA) “ensuring the safety of cruise ship passengers on the high seas.”

The first measure of its kind, the approval of this legislation represents an historic step towards securing for all passengers the safety and security they need and deserve, the ICV said in a press release. “Since the Senate has already unanimously approved this legislation, it will now move forward to the President to be signed into law.”

ICV was formed four and a half years ago by people who had lost members of their family. Since then, this small group has grown to have members in over 20 countries, according to the ICV. The group said it first advocated for major changes to improve safety for all victims of crimes on cruise ships during a Congressional hearing back in March 2006.

The measure approved today is a major victory in the fight for cruise passengers’ rights, according to ICV Chairman Kendall Carver: “Adoption of this bill would be proof to the world that our small group of volunteers with limited funds has been able to make a difference in the safety of Americans. When the Cruise Safety legislation is signed into law, it will serve to protect Americans across the nation during what ought to be relaxing vacations.

“This accomplishment was made possible through the strong Congressional support from Rep Doris Matsui who sponsored this legislation in the House and Sen. John Kerry taking the lead in the Senate. The odds were against us but with the leadership of these two sponsors this historic legislation was passed.  ICV is also indebted to Rep.Christopher Shays who held the first two hearings in the House in 2005 and 2006. Without the support of these individuals, this legislation would not have been possible.”

The ICV, however, sees this as just a first step in a long journey. Through the efforts of members in England and Australia, the group will be working to have similar legislation adopted throughout the world so that all passengers will have similar protection. Also, the ICV stated it plans to support legislation to change the Death on the High Seas laws so that passengers on a cruise ship have the same protection from wrongful deaths that a passenger on an international airline has.