Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 21, 2014

Cruise Ship Passengers Recount ‘Horrific’ Incidents (Video)

Passengers gave harrowing testimony about illness and crime aboard cruise ships at a hearing Wednesday of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Security guards “did everything wrong” and “waited at least 10 minutes to even call for someone to come down and look at my mother’s body to see if she was breathing or not,” said Amanda Butler, whose mother collapsed while on a Carnival cruise while the ship was docked at Grand Cayman Island.

The woman, Violet Butler, later died.

“It was horrific and completely unacceptable for American citizens,” Amanda Butler told the committee.

Another former passenger, Laurie Dishman, testified about being raped by a crew member while aboard a cruise ship.

Last year committee chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D- W.Va., introduced a bill, the Cruise Passenger Protection Act, which would impose regulations on the industry including:

  • Requiring a plain language summary of the rights and limitations that passengers have during a cruise.
  • Requiring cruise lines to install video cameras in public areas and setting requirements for them to keep the video footage.
  • Assigning a victims’ advocate to help victims of crime or of mistreated illness on board a cruise ship.

“Why not, as a matter of business sense – forget humanity for the moment – but just as a matter of business sense, wouldn’t they take steps to clear up some these problems we’ve been talking about?” Rockefeller asked at Wednesday’s hearing.

Rockefeller’s previous hearing on this issue in July 2013 included witnesses from Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean.

But the trade group Cruise Lines International Association said it wasn’t invited to testify at Wednesday’s hearing and said it “presented a distorted picture of an industry that has an exceptional guest care and safety record. It also did not provide a balanced view that would help policy makers and the public better understand the full implications of the Cruise Passenger Protection Act — and why it is not needed.”

It called Rockefeller’s bill “a solution in search of a problem. Overwhelmingly, cruise passengers have a wonderful experience, as demonstrated by a more than 90% customer satisfaction rate.”

It added that “The cruise industry is already heavily regulated. Adding a new layer of federal regulation and bureaucracy at the expense of taxpayers, cruise lines and cruise passengers is both unjustified and unnecessary.”

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