The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009 has been marked up in the U.S. Senate, with similar legislation pending in the House.
The Cruise Lines International Association is now supporting the legislation and will help work toward passage, according to a statement on the International Cruise Victims website.
If passed, the legislation will mandate guard rails 54 inches in height; entry doors to each passenger stateroom will have peep holes, security latches and time sensitive key technology.
Cruise lines will also be required to implement technology to detect when passengers fall overboard, as well as procedures to determine which crew members have access to cabins and when.
The bill asks that reporting structures be established based on the current voluntary agreement in place between cruise lines, the FBI and the Coast Guard. Each ship will be required to maintain a log book, recording all deaths, missing individuals, alleged crimes and passenger/crew member complaints. The log books shall be made available electronically to the FBI and the Coast Guard, as well as any other law enforcement agency.
Ships will be required to maintain anti-retroviral medications and medications used to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, in addition to equipment to perform medical examinations to determine whether a victim has been raped. A U.S. licensed medical practitioner shall be on every ship to perform the necessary examinations and provide treatment.
The legislation would also establish a program designed by the Coast Guard and the FBI and certified by the Maritime Administration to train appropriate crew members in crime scene investigation.
Some of the measures are expected to be implemented immediately, others will be phased in, such as the peep holes over a year to a year and a half, said Ken Carver, president and founder of International Cruise Victims. The legislation was introduced by Senator John Kerry (D-Mass), while Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) has recently signed on as a co-sponsor, according to Carver.
Also, if passed, the legislation will apply to all cruise ships calling in U.S. ports.