U.S. Department of Transportation Launches New Website Providing Information for Cruise Ship Passengers
The U.S. Department of Transportation today launched a new webpage featuring information and resources provided by other federal agencies as a one-stop resource to assist cruise ship passengers in making informed vacation planning decisions. The website contains information on consumer assistance, vessel safety, and cruise line incident reporting statistics. DOT’s Cruise Ship Passengers website can be found here.
“We are committed to providing the traveling public with as much information as possible to make informed decisions about their travel and making sure they know their rights before, during, and after their trip,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We appreciate Chairman Rockefeller’s continued advocacy on behalf of the traveling public and believe this will serve as a helpful tool for consumers when choosing among cruise ships after spending years saving for that once-in-a-lifetime vacation with their family.”
While the U.S. Department of Transportation does not regulate the cruise line industry, safe and reliable travel, as well as transparency, is important to the Department. Providing this information in one location – information shared by other agencies with direct jurisdiction – will serve those purposes.
Information provided on the website includes:
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) requires operators of passenger vessels carrying 50 or more passengers from a U.S. port to be financially capable of reimbursing their customers in the event that a cruise is cancelled. The FMC also requires proof of ability to pay claims arising out of passenger injuries or death for which the ship operator may be liable. If a cruise is cancelled or if there is an injury during the cruise, the consumer will have to initiate action on his or her own behalf against the cruise line; however the FMC’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services (CADRS) is available to review any problems or inquiries that passengers bring to its attention and help ensure a quick and fair consideration of the issues involved. Consumer complaints can be reported to the FMC by telephone at 202-523-5807. See FMC’s website for additional information: http://www.fmc.gov/about/notice_to_cruise_passengers.aspx.
The U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for cruise ship safety. Although each cruise ship is subject to the vessel inspection laws of the country in which it is registered, as a condition of permitting the vessels to take on passengers at U.S. ports, the Coast Guard requires the ships to meet the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and other international regulations. Among other things, these regulations concern structural fire protection, firefighting and lifesaving equipment, watercraft integrity and stability, vessel control, navigation safety, crewing and crew competency, safety management, and environmental protection. The Coast Guard conducts routine onboard inspections of cruise ships to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
Cruise Line Incident Reporting Statistics
The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 established security and safety requirements for most cruise ships that embark and disembark in the United States. The Act mandates that reports of criminal activity be reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Under the Act, the U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for posting via internet portal cruise line reporting statistics provided by the FBI, which can be found here: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg2/cgis/CruiseLine.asp.