Less than five months ago, we were shaken by the bone-chilling stabbing of cruise passenger Nina Elisabeth Nilssen in Antigua. In hopes of legitimizing the suffering incurred by friends and family of cruise crime victims, President Obama pushed a long-overdue maritime travel bill into effect on July 27. The Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act promises to dissolve the no mans land jurisdiction governing offenses committed against American cruise passengers abroad, in addition to revamping preventative and response measures onboard and enforcing accountability.
Cruise lines are allotted two years to comply with the imperatives of the act, which include raising guard rails on ships to 42 inches, in addition to installing an emergency sound system, a peephole in every cabin, and on-deck video surveillance. Ships will be mandated to keep a publicly accessible crime log, and report all serious incidents to the FBI. Every vessel must carry rape kits and employ a trained doctor, as well as provide sexual assault victims with an 800-number hotline, unaffiliated with the cruise company. Unlawful evasion of these requirements may result in a hefty penalty of up to $250,000 or denial of entrance into American waters.
For more information on the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act, visit www.usatoday.com.