In recent years, victims of crime aboard cruise ships and their families have claimed that cruise lines get around U.S. regulations by registering ships in foreign countries and hiring foreign crews. At present, cruise ships are not required to report crimes that occur outside U.S. waters, according to U.S. law. Therefore, many issues surrounding crime aboard cruise ships remain a matter of debate, such as which crimes are required to be reported, to which agency and which of the agencies has jurisdiction.
Due to growing concern about cruise safety, a new legislation, introduced by Senator John F. Kerry, would require ships to increase guardrail heights, maintain crime report logbooks and install peepholes in cabin doors.
“Murky legal jurisdictions in international waters are no longer an excuse for failing to report serious crimes so that they may be effectively prosecuted,” Kerry told the Los Angeles Times. “If U.S. passengers are at risk, then U.S. law should hold the industry accountable for their safety.”
Recently, the California Senate also took up this issue and approved a bill to place “ocean rangers,” which have a similar role to air marshals on planes, onboard cruise ships. However, the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee killed the legislation in June after intensive lobbying by the cruise industry.