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Why the Government is Cracking Down on the Cruise Industry

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In March 2012, after the crash of the Costa Concordia, the Senate held a hearing to evaluate the state of cruise safety. In the 16 months that have passed, we’ve witnessed the engine fire on the Carnival Triumph that left passengers stranded in horrid conditions for days, another fire onboard Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas,  passengers gone overboard the Carnival Spirit and an incident of sexual misconduct directed at a minor onboard the Disney Dream.

It’s no surprise that consumer confidence for the cruise industry has dropped 12 percent. The Senate is now moving to take action as well.  Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced legislation that would compel the industry to provide critical consumer protections for passengers.

In a hearing today, Rockefeller noted:

“I felt like the industry needed a fair chance to correct its course. It’s now been 16 months since that hearing and I have not felt like things have changed.”

The hearing covered three main topics: maritime safety, accurate reporting of crime statistics, and transparency of passenger rights.

In the hearing, Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein stated that starting August 1, the cruise line, along with Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line, will begin making all alleged cruise ship crimes publicly available, not just the cases that have been closed by the FBI, which is the current requirement.

Above and beyond the industry’s own Cruise Passenger Bill of Rights. The Senate is now reviewing a draft of The Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2013. The current draft of the bill calls for the federal government, including the DOT, to have more authority to protect cruise ship passengers. Lastly, passenger will have more information, with cruise lines being required to provide a plain-language summary of the key rights and limitations that passengers have during their cruise so they are fully aware of what rights they have, and don’t have, before they book their tickets.

Watch Peter’s latest CBS This Morning report to find out what was said at the senate hearings and whether cruise passengers stand to benefit from increased government regulation.

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