On Tuesday, November 17, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009, sponsored by Representative Doris Matsui of California (H.R. 3360). The vote was 416-4. The House also included this legislation as title IX of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010.
The legislation addresses crime against and safety risks to passengers on large oceangoing cruise ships. Over the past few years, there has been substantial publicity about crimes committed against American passengers on international cruise ships. Other instances have involved passengers who have disappeared overboard.
As introduced, this bill would have inadvertently imposed new requirements on many vessels operated by PVA members, even though PVA vessels have not been implicated in the problems of concern to Congress. Many PVA passenger vessels of various types – overnight cruise, ferry, even dinner cruise – fell within the ambit of the original version of the legislation.
PVA’s staff drafted language to fix the bill and provided it to Congress. The amended version of the legislation largely incorporates the PVA suggestion. As a result of PVA’s work, the legislation now limits its application to a passenger vessel (100 gross tons or more) that is authorized to carry at least 250 passengers; that has onboard sleeping facilities for each passenger; that is on a voyage that embarks or disembarks in the U.S.; and that is not engaged on a coastwise voyage.