Cruise lines say ships nearly compliant with new safety rules

By Johanna Jainchill

Major cruise lines foresee no problems complying with the requirements of the recently enacted Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.

President Obama signed the bill into law late last month, requiring the cruise industry to be more transparent in reporting cruise ship crime and to comply with new cabin security and surveillance measures.

Major lines say their ships already are amostly or fully compliant with the law’s requirements regarding onboard video surveillance, medical personnel, railing heights and peepholes in cabin doors for passengers and crew.

Cynthia Martinez, manager of corporate communications for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said the company’s three brands (Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity and Azamara) meet most of those requirements and are in the process of installing peepholes in crew cabins.

She added that all cabins have electronic key and lock systems.

Carnival Cruises Lines also said it is generally in compliance.

"For instance, we have peepholes in all guest cabins, security locks and 42-inch railings," said Carnival spokesman Tim Gallagher. "We also have video surveillance systems, our medical personnel meet [American College of Emergency Physicians] guidelines and we carry rape kits," which are used to collect evidence of a sexual assault.

"But it is impossible to say if further modifications will be necessary until the actual regulations have been drafted, finalized and published," he said. "However, at this time, we do not expect any significant difficulties in meeting all of the regulations."

Oceania Cruises said all its ships are compliant with the 42-inch railings, and some ships already feature onboard surveillance systems. Oceania said all other areas will be fully compliant on or before the deadlines.

Disney Cruise Lines spokeswoman Christi Erwin Donnan said that the line is "pleased with the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act and is taking steps to ensure our complete compliance. … We already meet or exceed many of the mandates in the legislation; for example, our ships meet the requirements for rail heights. In addition, we have medical personnel onboard who meet [ACEP] guidelines."

Disney said it would install the peepholes within the required time.

None of the cruise lines surveyed would discuss how much it would cost to comply.

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," Matsui said 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."

Kendall Carver, president of the International Cruise Victims Association, said passage of the bill was "a great day for any passenger going on a cruise. ... It has been a long journey for members of the International Cruise Victims Association."

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