Carnival Triumph seen adrift in the Gulf of Mexico in February 2013. This and a number of other high-profile incidents have brought cruise ship safety and passenger rights to the attention of government officials and the public. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard
By Christopher Palmeri
July 24 (Bloomberg) — Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Ltd. and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., the target of proposed legislation after high profile mishaps at sea, will voluntarily publish more data about crimes on their cruises.
Adam Goldstein, president and chief executive officer of the Royal Caribbean’s namesake line, announced the change at a hearing today on cruise safety by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in Washington.
The three largest cruise operators are taking the step after U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who heads the commerce committee, introduced legislation to require disclosure of the crime data and make the Department of Transportation responsible for consumer protection on cruises.
“We are proud of this initiative and believe that it addresses many of the concerns raised with the limited public reporting required,” by current law, Goldstein said.
Congress in 2010 required the U.S. Coast Guard to maintain a public website disclosing crime allegations arising on U.S. cruises. The information was limited to probes completed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to Goldstein. The new policy will disclose all alleged crimes on ships worldwide.
Royal Caribbean will begin posting the expanded data for all of its cruise divisions starting Aug. 1 and the information will date back to the fourth quarter of 2010, Goldstein said.
Ross Klein, a professor of social work at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, who has written four books on the industry, told the panel many crimes aren’t reported to the FBI or made public by the bureau.
“Access to reliable data is important for passengers who have a right to know the relative risk, including between one cruise line and another and ideally between one cruise ship and another,” he said.
A number of high-profile incidents, including the January 2012 wreck of Carnival’s Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy, which cost 32 lives, brought cruise safety to the attention of government officials and the public.
“This bill is the only way we’re going to make consumer awareness and protection a priority, since the cruise industry seems to refuse to take action on its own,” Rockefeller said in a statement yesterday.
Last month, the Coast Guard barred the Carnival Triumph, a cruise ship that was stranded in the Gulf of Mexico with passengers aboard, from returning to service following repairs after finding “three serious deficiencies” in its first inspection, Rear Admiral Joseph Servidio said today.
The deficiencies involved the ship’s fire detectors, sprinklers and lifeboat drills, and were corrected the next day, Servidio, assistant commandant for prevention policy, testified at the hearing. The ship will be subject to quarterly examinations for three years as a result, he said.
Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.
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